Michael Jackson's Ghosts

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

Michael Jackson's Ghosts is a 1996 short film starring Michael Jackson, written by Stephen King and Mick Garris, and directed by Stan Winston. It was filmed and first screened in 1996 and released along with select prints of the film Thinner. It was released as promo a year later internationally on LaserDisc, VHS and Video CD. Jackson plays five roles.

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


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 demon. Terrified, the mayor leaps through the window. The families agree that they had fun and allow the maestro to stay.


The project began production in 1993 under the title Is it Scary? with director Mick Garris, planned for release in conjunction with the family comedy film Addams Family Values.[1] 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.[1] According to Garris, Ghosts was "the most expensive music video ever made" at around $15 million dollars, all paid for by Jackson.[2]


  • 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, Nikki Pantenburg, John "Havic" Gregory, Travis Payne, Michael Gregory, Mia Pitts, Heather Harley, Charlie Schmidt, Paula Harrison, Joie Shettler, Shawnette Heard, Anthony Talauega, Yuko Sumida Holley, Richmond Talauega, Cristan Judd, Lisa Thompson, Richard Kim, Mic Thompson, Dorie Konno, Stacey Walker, Kelly Konno, Michelle Weber, Suzi McDonald, Jason Yribar, and Courtney Miller as Dancers



The film was screened out of competition at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival.[3] 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".[4]. In 2020, the film was available on Jackson’s YouTube channel from October 29th to November 1st.


According to AV Club writer Nathan Rabin, Ghosts is a "staggeringly blunt" allegory for Jackson's life and pop culture status. Rabin 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.[5]

Deluxe collector box set[edit]

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.[6]

"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
"They Don't Care About Us"
"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.[6][7]

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.[6][8]


  • Written and composed by Babyface and Michael Jackson[9][10]
  • Produced by Babyface[9][10]
  • Solo and background vocals by Michael Jackson

Track listing[edit]

Limited Edition Minimax CD (EPC 665268 2)[11]

  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. ^ 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.
  2. ^ S, M. "How Hocus Pocus writer Mick Garris went from 'Thriller' extra to Michael Jackson collaborator". EW. Retrieved Oct 16, 2017.
  3. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Ghosts". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-09-27.
  4. ^ "Longest music video". Guinness World Records. November 21, 2013. Retrieved March 23, 2019.
  5. ^ "Spooktastic Case File #174: "Michael Jackson's Ghosts"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2019-10-10.
  6. ^ a b c Halstead, Craig (2007). Michael Jackson: For the Record. Authors OnLine. pp. 243–244. ISBN 978-0-7552-0267-6.
  7. ^ "Amazon.com: Get On The Bus: Music From And Inspired By The Motion Picture". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2010-11-12.
  8. ^ "Song info on Amazon.com". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2010-11-12.
  9. ^ a b "Michael Jackson - Limited Edition Minimax CD (CD) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2010-12-24.
  10. ^ a b "Get on the Bus (1996) - Soundtracks". IMDb.com. Retrieved 2010-12-24.
  11. ^ "australian-charts.com - Michael Jackson - On The Line". australian-charts.com. Retrieved 2010-08-01.

External links[edit]