Michael Jackson, Werefolk, and Bigfoot

Posted by: Loren Coleman on June 26th, 2009

“Due to my strong personal convictions, I wish to stress that this film in no way endorses a belief in the occult.”
Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson died on June 25, 2009. You would have to be a hermit on a Pacific island (hopefully we do have a few as readers here) to have missed out on the media storm on this one.

So, since everyone is talking about this story, in one way or the other, we might as well note Jackson’s links to Bigfootery, even if only through his associations and life links.

Jackson’s long-version of Thriller has the above disclaimer on it. It was a short film done for him by John Landis, a name of some significance in the history of hominology.

Let’s track the popular cultural trail on this one.

Schlock is a 1973 low-budget satire film, written and directed by filmmaker John Landis, then 21. The film is the first credited project by Landis, who also starred as the title role. It opened in Hollywood in March 1973 and in West Germany on September 17, 1982. The film is notable for the early work of make-up artist Rick Baker. The Bigfoot suit for the film was made by Rick Baker and this would be the beginning of a long-term collaboration between Landis and Baker.

In 1981, Landis wrote and directed another cult-status movie, the comedy-horror An American Werewolf in London (photo above).

Landis also directed the opening teaser (about a werewolf) and first segment of Twilight Zone: The Movie in 1983. During the filming of Twilight Zone, actor Vic Morrow and child extras Myca Dinh Le and Renee Shin-Yi Chen were killed in an accident involving an out of control helicopter. This occurred during the Nazi-Vietnam time travel segment of the movie.

Right after filming ended, Landis and his family were living in London when he was approached by Michael Jackson to make a video for his song, “Thriller”.

Michael Jackson’s Thriller is an almost 14-minute long music video for the song of the same name released on December 2, 1983 and directed by John Landis who also co-wrote the screenplay with Jackson.

The mini-film music video was broadcast on MTV three weeks before Christmas 1983. It was the most expensive video of its time, costing US$500,000, and Guinness World Records listed it in 2006 as the “most successful music video,” selling over 9 million units.

During the video, Jackson transforms into both a zombie and a werecat (although makeup artist Rick Baker referred to it as a “cat monster” in the Making of Thriller documentary); familiar territory for Landis, who had directed An American Werewolf in London two years earlier.

Co-starring with Jackson was former Playboy centerfold Ola Ray.

After the credits, when they concurrently show the zombies dancing again, the disclaimer humorously states, “Any similarity to actual events or persons living, dead, (or undead) is purely coincidental.” Landis’ An American Werewolf in London likewise offered this disclaimer.

Thriller has some entangled links to Bigfoot.

In the beginning scenes, when Jackson and Ray are outside the movie theater, the movie poster behind them is for Schlock.

(See 23 seconds into this online version of Thriller for Schlock poster.)

Of course, since Landis produced Thriller, the placement is subtle and, in some ways, to be expected. The film, Schlock, as previously noted, was directed by John Landis, who also played the film’s very thin Bigfoot.

John Chambers, whom years later John Landis (above) would claim created the Bigfoot in the Patterson-Gimlin footage, played the National Guard Captain in Schlock.

Rick Baker.

Chambers’ student, Rick Baker, who one day would create Harry in Harry and the Hendersons, did the makeup and created the Bigfoot in Schlock.

John Chambers Burbank Bigfoot

John Chambers and the Burbank Bigfoot, which was one of Chamber’s fakes.

John Chambers denied he had anything to do with the Patterson-Gimlin Bigfoot.


It is only a movieland rumor that Michael Jackson wanted to capture a Bigfoot to go with his chimp in his personal zoo at California’s Neverland Ranch. Although at one time Jackson also wanted to rent a haunted house, he appears to have turned away from an earlier attraction to occult matters during his later years.

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

7 Responses to “Michael Jackson, Werefolk, and Bigfoot”

  1. cryptidsrus responds:

    Great post, Loren.

    I remember watching the “Making of Thriller” film years ago. Did not know some of the information you gave. Thanks.

    Well, it looks to me like we’re in for “Michael Weekend” real fast.
    I say this will last about two weeks. Maybe slightly less.
    Including the funeral, the attempted settling of various lawsuits, the question of who gets his children (I think it has been announced his mother will get custody of them) and the discussion as to whether Jacko really can truly be called the “Elvis of this generation.” Among other things.

    Plus the sincerely real question of whether his demise was due to doctors/confidantes/friends administering drugs to him recklessly—aggravating his decades-long prescription drug habit, a la Anna Nicole.

    Another question is the very real possibility he may have had acute Anorexia, which may have been one of the contributing factors to his death. Honestly, I do not understand how he lived to be 50 with his various conditions.

    Since battle lines have already been drawn between roughly A) people who admit he was a “troubled, disturbed soul” but choose to remember and testify to the greatness/genius of the enterntainer and to his impact in world culture, or B) folks who are muttering “Burn in Hell” under their breaths right now and are puzzled right now as to how anybody could like a “guy like him,” I have to say I’m in the first camp.

    Whatever he probably did, that was not the “whole” of the man.
    The Almighty will take care of him, whatever he did or did not do. “God” will be the final determiner of his fate, not us.
    If you are an atheist, one can say that posterity will be the judge.

    But we cannot just stop listening to his records and just dismiss him as a “sick molester” without first acknowledging that with a family like his, you’d turn out screwed up, to. No excuse for whatever he “did” but one can “understand”.

    To be honest, I think he may have been “weird” enough to NOT have done what he was accused of. The truth comes somewhere in the middle. He may have done some, but not all of things. It may have been he did not do anything but he had “predilections.” It could also be he was innocent but his behavior was weird enough that folks got the wrong idea.

    The fans and others who are clogging the streets out there atoday re not necessarily “stupid,” as some cynical people have suggested today. Some of them may be, but most of them I guess are not. They understand that MJ may have been “misunderstood,” or at LEAST not the “best person on Earth” but they are willing to at least look past that and see what they feel is the GREATER part of him, which changed lives (and world culture) in some ways.

    Ultimately this is a matter of whether one can separate the man from his “works.” And judging by that template, I at least can.
    The joy and good he brought to millions ultimately transcend whatever “bad” he may have done.

    A great portion of the great souls and artisits of this world had demons nibbling at their heels. Look at Wagner. Reprehensible human being, superb artist. Still listened to. Perfect example of “joy coming above human foibles.”

    I guess some folks just want the whole of humanity to stop listening to Jackson records and put an engraving over his tombstone saying “Michael Jackson—Freakish Child Molester”—and that’s it. Just remember him as that. That ain’t gonna happen and it shouldn’t. That is not looking at the bigger picture and the totality of the man, like I stated above.
    And I totally understand that that is MY opinion, and not everyone will agree with that. Soem folks cannot do that.

    Whatever he WAS or was NOT, he deserves admiration (at least for his influence, his genius and the way he changed world culture), mourning, and deserved remembrance. Also, for the sheer human tragedy that was his life. Added to that the fact that he was able to rise somewhat above a nightmarish childhood and bring forth beauty out of it. RIP, King Of Pop.

  2. Ceroill responds:

    One more bit of John Landis trivia, regarding Thriller, and other John Landis films is See you next Wednesday.

    In Thriller this is something said by someone in the film that Michael and Ola are watching, just before they leave the theater. See you next Wednesday was the first screenplay he wrote, when he was a teen. Since then it has been treated by him as a background item in most of his productions, either as movie posters, or mentioned in conversation. It was referenced in Shlock, for instance, as well as in American Werewolf in London, and I think in all his films. It’s his personal in-joke and something that Landis fans like to spot.

  3. Loren Coleman responds:

    Yes, one of Landis’ little jokes is to insert references to a fictional film called See You Next Wednesday in films he directs. The line is from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey as the final goodbye from Frank Poole’s parents who are speaking from Earth on the videophone from them that he is watching.

    BTW, before anyone goes there, See You Next Wednesday doesn’t have anything to do with John Keel’s famous “Wednesday phenomena.”

  4. red_pill_junkie responds:

    Thriller is arguably the best music video of all time.

    I remember seeing it when I was 10. Scared the mierda out of me 🙂

  5. CryptidHuntr responds:

    Wacko Jacko. Doesn’t surprise me. at all

  6. gridbug responds:

    Godspeed, you wonderful terrible enigma you. And may you finally find what it is you’ve been seeking.

  7. kittenz responds:

    R.I.P. Michael.

    I hope he finds the childhood that he never had, over on the other side.

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