Michael Jackson's Film Moonwalker -- Things That Really Existed


Nothing surprised me more after Michael Jackson's death than the fact that his 1988 movie Moonwalker did not finally get a proper U.S. release. It was released theatrically in Europe and the U.K. at the time, but it was shunted to VHS in America. It's currently available on DVD and/or Blu-ray overseas, but it seems the distributors believe that we Yanks still aren't ready.

Me, I adore the glorious, plotless mess that is Moonwalker as well as Michael Jackson for making the movie. Let's tip-toe through it together.

Starting things off right, Michael moults glitter in the opening titles.

A recurring motif is "things which are not Michael dancing like Michael."

"Things which are not Michael dancing like Michael" No. 2: The "Bad" video, redone with children.

Never one to hide his mixed feelings about celebrity, Michael represents his more ardent fans as claymation grotesqueries. (Also, demons from Jacob's Ladder visit from 1:38 to 1:46.)

"Things" No. 3: A claymation rabbit, which is actually Michael in a rabbit suit. It just is.

Michael steps out of the rabbit suit, and they dance together. ("Things" No. 4!)

Michael dances with The Elephant Man's bones. ("Things" No. 5!)

Michael cavorts with children, and Skipper the Dog runs away (and learns about racism, I guess).

Joe Pesci introduces his "No School Prayer, All Bugs-and-Drugs" initiative.

Michael turns into a car offscreen.

"Smooth Criminal" pauses for ... well, I don't know what it is, but it involves lots of moaning and goth dancing.

In a blitz of pseudo-Spielbergian visual effects, Michael turns into a robot on screen.

The Michael-bot destroys Joe Pesci.

Bonus: Michael's cigar-aficionado manager explains why Moonwalker didn't play American theaters. TL;DR version: "Meh."

Moonwalker is available on finer Torrent sites (not that we condone such behavior) and thrift stores nationwide. And once again, for a full scene-by-scene recap, visit The Agony Booth.


Sherilyn Connelly is a San Francisco-based writer. She also curates and hosts Bad Movie Night at The Dark Room, every Sunday at 8pm.

Follow us on Twitter at @ExhibitionistSF (follow Sherilyn Connelly on Twitter at @sherilyn) and like us on Facebook.

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Whitney Getz
Whitney Getz

See that robot CGI transformation sequence? That's the first time we will see CGI used in that way in a film.

I suppose we've become so inundated with CGI effects in movies and television that we don't realize when we're seeing the work of pioneers.

Sherilyn Connelly
Sherilyn Connelly

I agree entirely about acknowledging the work of CGI pioneers, but while computers were definitely used for motion control and the like in Moonwalker, I'm not convinced that the robot transformation can be called CGI; they don't mention anything in the making-of documentary about it being graphics-heavy, plus we see the actual models used:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...  (The relevant clip starts at 6:20, if the timestamp doesn't work properly.)  Also, the transforming robot head was nearly auctioned off in 2009:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

WouldntU LikeToKnow
WouldntU LikeToKnow

LOL I love Michael Jackson, but I couldn't stop laughing when I first watched Moonwalker in 2009. The entire thing seemed like it'd been written by an over-excited child who was given the money/opportunity throw all his favorite things into the melting pot. ("...And then I turn into a car, and then I turn into a robot, and then I go to space...") Wasn't surprised when the end credits rolled and stated, "Screenplay by Michael Jackson." God bless him, it all made sense then. XD

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