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A haiku:

Musical Monsters

Michael Jackson Backstreet Boys

Oh God, the Horror

Dear Lord, why do I torture myself like this?  Someone asked me to write an article about Halloween-themed music videos.  The problem is that I could only think of two.  That's not completely correct, but I LIKE the Rob Zombie music videos that are based on The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari & Bela Lugosi's The Phantom Creeps.  It's hard to make fun of something that's sort of a direct recreation of a horror classic.  On the other hand, it's hella easy to poke fun at something you really hate when they try to cash in on the same premise.  When the topic of Halloween music videos comes up, and you know it comes up often, everyone has to mention one thing in particular:

Ah, the early 80's.  When Michael Jackson wasn't culturally referred to as a creepy eccentric freak with a plastic face and too many children near him.  These were the days when normal people liked him something fierce, and it was totally alright to do so.  I was too young when Thriller came out, but it was a classic by the time I stopped listening to my Sesame Street books on tape.  The song's not terrible, admittedly (I'm comfortable enough to admit that I LIKE the song), but the main thing behind this ditty is the music video.  Directed by John Landis (the guy behind The Blues Brothers, The Three Amigos, and the occasional horror flick like An American Werewolf in London and A French Vampire in America) and utilizing the voice of Vincent Price...the 12 minute music video was almost a mini-movie.  Hell, it had plot structure in it, damn it.  Almost everyone's familiar with it, but please humor me as I walk you through it.  There's another music video I need to talk about, and karmically I need to do this first.  Also, I hadn't watch the video in some ten years, so maybe it's time I took a closer look.

The first part of the video is a dream sequence.  Well, it's actually a scene from a movie, but the fact that it's all happening in a fictional fantasy land is the important thing to gather.  Of course, you don't know that it isn't "real"...but there are clues.  Like what, you ask?

Michael Jackson making a marriage proposal to his high school sweetheart is definitely a thing of fiction, right?  Well, not really.  But it seems that way.  The whole Lisa Marie Presley thing is one thing, but the fact that a year later he married the nurse of his dermatologist (:insert Michael Jackson skin joke here:) is also a little off.  But hey, whatever.  This totally makes sense because Michael was a teen heartthrob...so even little things like this make the teens happy.

Now that they're engaged, Michael feels he has to tell her he's "not like other guys."  Considering what we'd later hear/learn about MJ, he could say ANYTHING at this point.  Personally, I was in the audience screaming "tell her about the kids, Mikey, tell her about the kids!" But I'm immature like that.  But no, it turns out he's a werewolf.

  

The funny thing is that this sequence ends with a scary-as-hell Jackson being seen through the first person perspective.  This'll be repeated at the end, as nothing says "dear God No" quite like Michael trying to touch you.

And thus we learn that it was all a movie.  So MJ isn't a werewolf, and even better, he's on a date with a girl.  Woo Hoo.  So this part of the video is reality. We'll, it's A reality, as this is where Mr. Jackson (if you're nasty) sings his hit single to the girl.  Here we learn that the song is really about a guy singing how girls are scared and guys like girls who are scared because they'll let them touch them.  There's going to be a quiz on this later, so pay attention.  Of course, Halloween-esque doom is on it's way, this time narrated by Vincent Price. 

While most people know the spooky words that Vincent says to awaken the zombies (which is what happens, by the way), no one that I've talked to seems to remember the ignorant bit of Southern local color that he uses.  By the way, I grew up in the South (but fled) so I can get away with that.  Well, hopefully.  Check out the actual words:

Darkness falls across the land / The midnight hour is close at hand / Creatures crawl in search of blood / To terrorize y'all's neighborhood / And whosoever shall be found / Without the soul for getting down / Must stand and face the hounds of hell / And rot inside a corpse's shell. / The foulest stench is in the air / The funk of 40,000 years / And grizzly ghouls from every tomb / Are closing in to seal your doom / And though you fight to stay alive / Your body starts to shiver / For no mere mortal can resist / The evil of the thriller.

Jesus, God, I actually got to hear Vincent Price say the word "Y'all's".  Was simply saying "your" neighborhood not enough?  Did it need to be made ethnic or something?  IS that ethnic?  Or Urban?  :sigh:  I'll let it go.  While I've been talking about Vincent Price getting ready to do voice acting for HeeHaw, MJ has been turned into a zombie...

...that looks a lot like Jeff Goldblum somehow.

 

Now we're at exactly why this thing was made:  Zombies grabbing their crotch and doing MJ's version of the Electric Slide.  Dancing zombies are somehow awesome, particularly because these zombies are pretty grotesque and perfect.  So we've got convincing zombies dancing around.  While it's kind of absurd if you look at it too closely, this is a music video AND I think I'd be afraid of zombies MORE if I knew they could bust out with a stage number from Cats.  But again, that might just be me.

 

Wow, zombie Michael Jackson doesn't look half bad.  Comparatively speaking, of course.  It's the whole OMG he's going to touch me thing that still has me laughing.  I know the camera angle is suppose to convey how scary it is that the MONSTER is coming for you, but the fact that the monster happens to be named Michael Jackson, well, we call that the deal closer.

In the end, the girl wakes up in Michael's apartment...apparently this was all a dream. Wait a second...the last thing she remembers is walking down the street with him and he started singing...the next she has a weird fever dream about trying to escape him as a zombie.  When she wakes up, Michael says that "He'll take her home."  Um...Mike?  What the hell did you give this girl before throwing her on your couch?  I swear to God, the whole zombie thing could just be a weird Rohypnol nightmare.  I know I'm not supposed to think about this too much, but dear Lord, she passed out and her date took her someplace that wasn't her home.  At least she woke up with her pants on, which is not something you can always say after a visit to the dentist. One last thing might be good to note.  At the very beginning of the video there's a disclaimer.

Thanks for letting us know you don't endorse a belief in the occult.  Can you imagine how many people would have dedicated their lives to the world of darkness if he hadn't put this in his video?  Man, good thinking there, Mikey, good thinking.

Now for something completely different:

In my defense, I pretty much dodged the whole "boy bands" thing.  I don't think guys are supposed to like the music, but whenever they got big I was either in New York without a television or a radio or over here in Germany, where music is either ahead of America by a few years or seriously lagging behind.  It varies.  I still remember seeing the occasional video on campus or at a friend's...and while I tried to remove them from my brain, they're still there.  Now I do NOT know the names of any of the members of the Backstreet Boys...I think the only boy band guy I know is Justin Timberlake, and that's just because my email account keeps posting big articles (advertisements) about him the size of my monitor on a regular basis.  So yeah, I'm culturally out of touch in some respects.  Hell, when I first heard of the Backstreet Boys I thought it was some sort of gay code or something like that.  I mean, is Backdoor Boys that far off from what you've got here?  Then again, I am out of touch.  Maybe the group is all about butt humping.  I don't know.  So I'm willing to admit that the Backstreet Boys aren't for me.  That still doesn't forgive ANYONE for this musical war crime against all things Halloween.  So yes, boys and girls, it's time for the BackStreet Boys Halloween Special.

Alright, it's not a Halloween special, but it is a Halloween-themed music video.  The song is "Everybody", which is pretty much a bunch of boys who typically wear baggy pants singing about how much they rock and as long as music is around they're going to be number one.  Oh, and they need reassurance that you find them attractive.  No really.  The song lyrics actually ask you, the audience, if you think they're sexy and original.  Can you imagine if a novel had something like that:

"Samantha walked into the room, her hips gyrating like a drunken top, captivating me with their hypnotic circles.  I could tell she had the information I'd been looking for but do you think this is a good book?  Is my writing style original to you?  Please tell me if you find my book pretty, I need to know I was going to have a fish's chance in hell if I wanted to pay for it in anything short of blood."

Anyway, the band members (and damn I'm actually glad I don't know their names) all turn into classic horror movie monsters.  And then sing.  And dance.  It's a bit like Thriller in some regards, only infinitely more blasphemous to all individuals who love all things horror and of Halloween.  The band's bus breaks down and they've got to stay in a haunted mansion until it gets fixed.  Then they all turn into monsters and sing about how awesome they are.

Say hello to the Werewolf of Blingity-Bling.  Oddly enough, the Werewolf make-up makes the singer (wait...they're all singers aren't they...no instruments.  The band's like a Barbershop Quartet of Pop?) look a hell of a lot like Seth Green.  Well, Seth Green with an underbite and covered in gold chains, but Seth Green nevertheless. 

Ah, coffin-licking.  Thank you, music video.

On a less cool note, please take a look at the asshat who gets to be the vampire.  Now, admittedly, he looks good.  Minus the vampire fangs, all he's got going on is a suit and a tophat.  I know people who go to clubs like this here in Berlin.  It's not that crazy, really.  So here we have a guy who doesn't look half bad and what does he do?  He negates any possible cool points by communicating "Yo Yo Yo Whuuzzzzah?" in international sign language.  I swear to Christ, Blacula was more respectful of the vampire genre than this.  :sigh:  I'll move on...but not without pointing out the major difference between Thriller and this horrible thing (besides music and the guys singing) is that Michael Jackson at least respected the material he was working with.  This?  This is just the Backstreet Boys doing the drunken Halloween party thing.  You know, where people run around and are far too excited about their costume?  Let's continue.

 

Who doesn't like the Phantom of the Opera?  Let's organize our thoughts:

Pro:  This Phantom actually looks like there's something wrong with his face, unlike the fairly recent Hollywood remake where the Phantom only seemed to have acne or something.  Seriously, when a character who's supposed to be hideously disfigured only seems to be breaking out, you're sending the wrong message.

Con:  Dear Lord, they gave the Phantom formally dressed Fly Girls to do the Macarena with. 

  

The Mummy.  Just what I needed.  I always wanted to see a horny guy wrapped in toilet paper rubbing himself until mummy back-up dancers materialize.  Thank you again, music video.

Of course, now we get to the only one that I actually thought was cool.  He's still singing a GOD DAMN boy band song, but whatever. 

When he first shows up, my first thought was "Holy Crap, they decided to have one of them dress up as a He-She.  How very, very progressive."  You know what I'm talking about...the costume where half the body is a man and other half is a woman?  Grace Jones did it in that movie with Tim Curry...but I digress.  This wasn't the case here, but what I did get to see...well, I'm a big dork who loves me some monsters.

Whoever this guy is, he doesn't corrupt and taint the hell out of a classic monster, unlike the rest of his mates.  So he doesn't have to be severely beaten.  He's a sort of Dr. Jeckyl/Mr. Hyde thing that pretty much sits there holding books and making "angry claw movements" in a room wallpapered with various torture/surgical implements.  It's not awesome, but when you force yourself to sit through something you hate (such as anything made by the Backstreet Boys) for the sake of some crappy Halloween Article, you always force yourself to like SOMETHING.

In the end, everyone wakes up.  It seems the whole video was a dream.  But wait, what's the surprise ending?  Oh no!  The bus driver is now a zombie and this scares the Backstreet Boys very much.  So they make "scared faces" into the camera. 

Yeah. I can see the sex appeal.  It's oh-so-clear now.

I'm done now.  I have survived the horror that is the Backstreet Boys and I've taken a closer look at Michael Jackson's Thriller and learned a few things, most importantly that Vincent Price apparently spent a bit of time in the Deep South.  Enjoy your Halloween season, people.  It has to get better than this. 

-jared

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copyright 2006 jared von hindman, except for images used via Fair Use purpose.  I don't own Michael Jackson nor do I own Mtv or the Backstreet Boys, but I like to review their horrible adventures

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