“Thriller Night” at the Tribeca Film Festival was billed as “the world’s largest zombie disco,” an event at the open-air Tribeca Drive-In with hundreds of undead revelers lurching along to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” Tons of cheery brain-suckers (and popcorn eaters) showed up for the event, marking the twenty-fifth anniversary of the groundbreaking video. Everyone was treated to free zombie face-painting and a station where you could turn a little cotton glove into a sequined Jackson trademark (“We’ve been inhaling a lot of fumes,” commented glove-gluer Michelle Angelino, who unfortunately ran out of shiny stuff early in the evening).
The “world’s largest zombie disco” never really happened. We got a hasty run-through by longtime Jacko choreographer Vincent Patterson (and the zombified crew of Bravo’s hit show Step It Up And Dance) who briefly taught everyone how to do the “double-bump.” But the night was electric nonetheless due to the carnival atmosphere, a big-screen outdoor screening of “Thriller” and The Making Of Michael Jackson’s Thriller and just witnessing the awe that classic Michael Jackson still inspires in fans all these decades later.
Director John Landis was on hand too, hoping “New York could show those Filipino prisoners who can dance!” New York didn’t give the prisoners a run for their money, but we were still super-pumped to learned one or two interesting Thriller tidbits. For example, Rick Baker, the Oscar-winning monster-makeup artist behind “Thriller” and An American Werewolf In London, makes a cameo as the zombie coming out of the crypt. Notably, he is the bearded zombie, since he wouldn’t shave for Landis. The director also owned up to the origins of the documentary: it was actually an elaborate ploy to finance the expensive “Thriller” video — by adding forty-five minutes of content to a fifteen minute video, you could sell it in stores! When filming it, they jokingly dubbed it “The Making Of Filler.”