Jackson "Thriller" film picked for U.S. registry

Superstar Michael Jackson thanks fans with a kiss after he performs "Earth Song" during the World Music Awards ceremony at the Monte Carlo Sporting Club, May 8, 1996. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Michael Jackson’s 1983 short movie “Thriller,” the song-and-dance horror flick that helped popularize television music videos, will live on in the U.S. National Film Registry.

The 14-minute “Thriller” is among 25 films the Library of Congress on Wednesday named to the registry, and it became the first music video included in the 2009 list of cultural treasures that will be preserved for all time.

“The Muppet Movie” of 1979, featuring Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy, 1975 bank robbery drama “Dog Day Afternoon” starring Al Pacino, the 1957 science fiction movie “The Incredible Shrinking Man” and Sergio Leone’s 1968 spaghetti western “Once Upon a Time in the West” also made the list.

Jackson, who died at age 50 on June 25 from an overdose of powerful medications, worked on the “Thriller” video with director John Landis.

The Library of Congress described the video as a lavish production that “revolutionized the music industry.” It played on TV, and was released theatrically on 35mm film.

In “Thriller,” which was set to Jackson’s single of the same name, the singer is out with a girl when zombies start to crawl out of a graveyard. Jackson joins the zombies in a dance, and himself becomes a zombie for a time.

In 2007, hundreds of prison inmates in the Philippines performed the “Thriller” dance, in a video that went viral on the Web and has been seen by millions.

Los Angeles police are still probing Jackson’s death, in an investigation that appears focused on his personal doctor.

With the addition of “Thriller” and the other 25 films, the U.S. National Film Registry now lists 525 movies.

Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis: Editing by Jill Serjeant and Vicki Allen