Magic, Monsters and Movies: The Rise and Fall of the Midnight Ghost Show
October 30, 2013 7:49 PM   Subscribe

Placing a bag over the boy‘s head, Dr. Silkini proceeded to cut if off with a knife. The girls in the audience squealed and screamed as blood dripped over the white tablecloth. Just after this decapitation, the Frankenstein monster seized the newly-severed head and started down the steps into the audience. At that precise moment, the house lights went off. Enthralled onlookers thought the rampaging creature was loose in the dark.

During the blackout, girls shrieked and boys shouted as ghosts, bats, and eerie faces zoomed about overhead and up and down the aisles. On the stage a chorus line of glowing skeletons danced in front of tombstones and vanished as they floated skyward. After three minutes of special effects and imaginative terror, there was a flash explosion and then the lights came on.

The above description of a sequence from "Dr. Silkini‘s Asylum of Horrors" conveys what an audience might have experienced at a typical midnight ghost show around 1941, as excerpted from Beth A. Kattelman's paper from 2010, Magic, Monsters, and Movies: America’s Midnight Ghost Shows (PDF), and covered in additional detail on the Paleofuture blog post The Rise and Fall of the Midnight Ghost Shows.
posted by filthy light thief (4 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Sweet! My buddy Spence does this now and again, here and there, under the Sprocket Society rubric. I don't think they are producing a full on spook show tomorrow night, but it sounds promising:

"Halloween Night! A rare 35mm screening of Benjamin Christensen's groundbreaking silent horror film (with narration by William S. Burroughs and a jazz score), plus spooky shorts!"

Said film is HAXAN.

Sadly, no apparent permalink.
posted by mwhybark at 7:55 PM on October 30, 2013 [3 favorites]

That sounds like a blast! For those who can't make it to the Seattle show, here's the Criterion edition of Haxan on YouTube, and the Burroughs narration, too! Some form of the film was posted to MeFi previously, but as a now-dead Google video link.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:07 PM on October 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

Man! My mother NEVER told me about this! :)
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 11:57 PM on October 30, 2013

They're doing one in Michigan as well, but I found out about it too late for this year. Already waiting for next year (and one of the kids might be old enough).
posted by Etrigan at 6:38 AM on October 31, 2013

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