Michael Jackson's Ghosts Oct 30, 2019 17:50:41 GMT -5
Post by StevePulaski on Oct 30, 2019 17:50:41 GMT -5
Michael Jackson's Ghosts (1996)
Directed by: Stan Winston
Directed by: Stan Winston
Michael Jackson's Ghosts was released in lieu of intense media scrutiny due to the well-documented 1993 child sexual abuse allegations.
Michael Jackson's Ghosts serves as a companion piece of sorts to his mid-nineties albums, HIStory and Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix, as well as quite possibly the most expensive music video of its time. At 39 minutes long, its price-tag was a healthy $15 million, all funded by Michael Jackson himself. With two bloated yet ambitious albums in stores, and his name constantly in the headlines due to the well-documented 1993 child sexual abuse allegations, the spooky short serves as an obvious allegory for his public perception at the time.
The paper-thin concept involves the Mayor of Normal Valley (Jackson) leading an angry mob of concerned parents and their impressionable children to the mansion of the Maestro (also played by Jackson), a mysterious local who has been "corrupting" the kiddies by introducing them to magic tricks and ghost stories. The Mayor refuses to listen to the children, who all admire the Maestro, or the Maestro himself, caustically calling him a "freak" to his face. This prompts the Maestro to challenge the town mayor to a "scaring contest:" the first person to become scared must leave the town. Cue Jackson and his army of ghouls, always ready to dance, be it in "Thriller" or Moonwalker, putting on a show to cuts from Michael only the die-hards are likely to know.
It's worth noting that both HIStory and Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix are arguably underrated albums. Having listened to both, the former is unfortunately saddled with a greatest hits compilation of Jackson tunes, which undermines much of the noteworthy "new" material exclusive to the album by exhausting the listener before they even get to those tracks. The same can be said with Blood on the Dance Floor, which comes with eight (!) "club mixes" or "radio mix" mashups that obscure the original material on the album. That was the release that had "Morphine," one of Jackson's darkest songs, on top of "Is it Scary" and "Ghosts," which are prominently featured here.
The painfully unsubtle allegory, combined with Jackson's uneven acting as the Mayor, make this short really play like a music video thanks to the broad generalizations of characters. There's so little to this story, it's quite a feat that screenwriters Jackson and Mick Garris were able to stretch it beyond 30 minutes. The people of Normal Valley are clearly painted as those who wanted Jackson dragged across concrete (and probably still do, in all fairness, 23 years later) due to the persistent allegations against him, while the kids are the passionate defenders of their unassuming neighbor's childlike tendencies. It's all passable entertainment, a product of its time in a large sense, but there's not a lot that elicits excitement.
One aspect of Michael Jackson's Ghosts that is top-notch, however, are the effects, which comes as no surprise, as the short was directed by Stan Winston, famous special effects wizard behind The Terminator, Aliens, and the Jurassic Park franchise. Fun fact: Mick Garris was originally set to be the director of Ghosts, and the short was set to be promotional fodder for the upcoming film Addams Family Values. When it was announced that Garris would direct Stephen King's The Shining for TV, Winston was promoted to director. Stephen King, too, has a story credit on Ghosts.
NOTE: My review of Captain EO, another Michael Jackson-centered short popularized by the accompanying Epcot ride, stevethemovieman.proboards.com/thread/6334/captain-eo?page=1&scrollTo=27897
Starring: Michael Jackson, Pat Dade, Amy Smallman, Edwina Moore, and Mos Def. Directed by: Stan Winston.