Michael Jackson's Ghosts

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Michael Jackson's Ghosts
Ghosts MJ.jpg
Promotional poster
Directed byStan Winston
Screenplay byStan Winston
Mick Garris
Story byMichael Jackson
Stephen King
Mick Garris
Produced byMichael Jackson
Stan Winston
David Nicksay
StarringMichael Jackson
CinematographyRussell Carpenter
Edited byMarcus Manton
Music byMichael Jackson (songs)
Nicholas Pike (score)
MJJ Productions
Kingdom Entertainment
Distributed bySMV Enterprises
Release date
  • October 25, 1996 (1996-10-25)
May 8, 1997 (Cannes)
Running time
39 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$15 million

Michael Jackson's Ghosts is a 1996 short film starring Michael Jackson, directed by Stan Winston, and written by Stephen King and Mick Garris. It is based on a story by Garris, Jackson and King.

Ghosts tells the story of an eccentric man with supernatural powers being forced out of a small town by its judgmental mayor. Jackson plays five roles, and performs dance routines set to the songs "2 Bad", "Is It Scary" and "Ghosts", taken from his albums HIStory (1995) and Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix (1997).

Ghosts was filmed and released in 1996 and released along with select prints of the horror film Thinner, and was first screened in the 1997 Cannes Film Festival.[1] It was released as promo a year later internationally on LaserDisc, VHS and Video CD.


The mayor of Normal Valley leads a mob to the mansion of the Maestro, who has been entertaining local children with magic tricks and ghost stories. The children assure the parents the Maestro has done nothing wrong, but the mayor intends to banish him as a "freak".

The Maestro challenges the mayor to a "scaring contest": the first to become scared must leave. He performs magic tricks and dance routines with a ghostly horde, then possesses the mayor, forcing him to dance. After the performance, the Maestro agrees to leave and crumbles to dust, but returns as an enormous ghoul. Terrified, the mayor leaps through the window. The families agree that they had fun and allow the Maestro to stay.


Ghosts began production in 1993 under the title Is it Scary? with the director Mick Garris, planned for release in conjunction with the family comedy film Addams Family Values.[2] Following contract disputes, the Addams Family connection was dropped. Stan Winston, who was previously in charge of makeup and visual effects, took over as director when Garris left to make the Shining miniseries.[2] According to Garris, Ghosts was the most expensive music video ever made, at around $15 million dollars, all paid for by Jackson.[3]


  • Michael Jackson as Maestro / Mayor / Mayor Ghoul / Superghoul / Skeleton
  • Pat Dade as Pat
  • Amy Smallman as Amy
  • Edwina Moore as Edwina
  • Dante Beze as Dante
  • Seth Smith as Seth
  • Kendall Cunningham as Kendall
  • Loren Randolph as Loren
  • Heather Ehlers as Heather



  • Michael Balderrama
  • Troy Burgess
  • John "Havic" Gregory
  • M.G. Gong
  • Heather Harley
  • Paula Harrison
  • Shawnette Heard
  • Cris Judd
  • Richard Kim
  • Dorie Konno
  • Kelly Konno
  • Suzi McDonald
  • Courtney Miller, Jr
  • Nikki Pantenburg
  • Travis Payne
  • Mia Pitts
  • Charlie E. Schmidt
  • Joie Shettler
  • Yuko Sumida
  • Anthony Talauega
  • Richmond Talauega
  • Lisa Joann Thompson
  • Mic Thompson
  • Stacy Walker
  • Michelle Weber
  • Jason Yribar


The original orchestral score was composed by Nicholas Pike. In 2021 the soundtrack was released on the web from the non promotional CD.

The Michael Jackson songs are the following ones:


Ghosts was screened out of competition at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival.[5] At over 38 minutes long, it held the Guinness world record for the longest music video until 2013, when it was eclipsed by Pharrell Williams' "Happy".[6] In 2020, the film was available on Jackson’s YouTube channel from October 29 to November 1.

In December 1997, towards the end of promotion for Michael Jackson's remix album Blood on the Dance Floor, a Deluxe Collector Box Set of Ghosts was released only in Europe. The box set included a VHS release of Jackson's Ghosts mini-movie on home video and his Blood on the Dance Floor album on CD, as well as a CD maxi single named the Limited Edition Minimax CD. "On the Line" was the first track on this single.[7]


The AV Club writer Nathan Rabin described it as a "staggeringly blunt" allegory for Jackson's life and pop culture status; he described it as "clunky, leaden, and overblown".[8] He attributed its failure to Jackson's place in the public imagination at the time, in light of Jackson's recent divorce from Lisa Marie Presley and the 1993 child molestation allegations against him.[8]

On the Line[edit]

"On the Line"
Single by Michael Jackson
ReleasedJanuary 11, 1997
Length4:39 (short version)
4:53 (long version)
LabelEpic Records, Sony Music
Songwriter(s)Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds
Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson singles chronology
"Stranger in Moscow"
"On the Line"
"Blood on the Dance Floor"

"On the Line" is a song co-written and produced by Babyface. Michael Jackson performs the track and is also credited in its writing (on the writing credits of The Ultimate Collection). It was originally recorded by Jackson for the Spike Lee movie Get on the Bus (1996), but it was not featured on the soundtrack.[7][9]

The full-length version of the song was released on November 16, 2004 as an album track of his limited edition box set The Ultimate Collection.[7][10]


  • Written and composed by Babyface and Michael Jackson[11][12]
  • Produced by Babyface[11][12]
  • Solo and background vocals by Michael Jackson

Track listing[edit]

Limited Edition Minimax CD (EPC 665268 2)[13]

  1. "On the Line" (Short Version) – 4:37
  2. "Ghosts" (Mousse T's Radio Rock Singalong Remix) – 4:25
  3. "Is It Scary" (DJ Greek's Scary Mix) – 7:12


  1. ^ "Stan Winston School of Character Arts". www.stanwinstonschool.com. Retrieved 2022-05-12.
  2. ^ a b Rob Galluzzo (2016-05-09). "Check Out The Long-Lost Michael Jackson Video Directed By Mick Garris & Written By Stephen King!". blumhouse.com. Retrieved 2017-05-15.
  3. ^ S, M. "How Hocus Pocus writer Mick Garris went from 'Thriller' extra to Michael Jackson collaborator". EW. Retrieved Oct 16, 2017.
  4. ^ "GHOSTS".
  5. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Ghosts". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-09-27.
  6. ^ "Longest music video". Guinness World Records. November 21, 2013. Retrieved March 23, 2019.
  7. ^ a b c Halstead, Craig (2007). Michael Jackson: For the Record. Authors OnLine. pp. 243–244. ISBN 978-0-7552-0267-6.
  8. ^ a b Rabin, Nathan (27 October 2010). "Spooktastic Case File #174: Michael Jackson's Ghosts". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2019-10-10.
  9. ^ "Amazon.com: Get On The Bus: Music From And Inspired By The Motion Picture". Amazon.com. 1996. Retrieved 2010-11-12.
  10. ^ "Song info on Amazon.com". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2010-11-12.
  11. ^ a b "Michael Jackson - Limited Edition Minimax CD (CD) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2010-12-24.
  12. ^ a b "Get on the Bus (1996) - Soundtracks". IMDb.com. Retrieved 2010-12-24.
  13. ^ "australian-charts.com - Michael Jackson - On The Line". australian-charts.com. Retrieved 2010-08-01.

External links[edit]