Since I can remember, I’ve been intrigued by Midnight Spook Shows. When I was a kid, I wanted to create my own, but the closest I ever got to it, was a poorly designed haunted house made out of cardboard boxes, that basically melted in the rain. I was so looking forward to scaring the neighbourhood kids. Was that why I was labelled a weirdo so early on in life? Not that it matters, as I wear that label proudly. Now back to Midnight Spook Shows.
What was a Midnight Spook Show aka Midnight Ghost Show? Elwin-Charles Peck (who performed as El-Wyn) created what was known as the first version of a Spook Show/Ghost Show. In this iteration (from the late 1920s and into the 1930s) it was mostly based around magic and spiritualism. During his performances he would try to contact the spirit world. Objects would appear and disappear. Strange noises would happen throughout the theatre and things would fly over the audience members heads. In many cases leading the audiences to scream in fright. This would all take place during what seemed to be a seance.
Eventually, spiritualism would fall out of popularity and the midnight spook shows also began to fade away… that was until horror movies became popular. During the 1930s to the 1950s movie theatre owners were trying to find ways to get audiences into the building, especially the younger generation, especially teenagers. Midnight Spook Shows seemed to be the answer. Similar to its predecessor, shows would have magic, special effects and creatures moving about the audience. In many cases, the troupe putting on the show would travel to several theatres. It was profitable for both the theatre owner and the the groups putting on the shows and would be a weekly highlight for the audience.
Here is a link to an amazing article that gets more in depth, especially about the origins, along with a few other articles you might find spooktacular. https://www.denofgeek.com/movies/midnight-spook-shows-a-brief-history/
Here is a great video that gives you a great explanation.
I have attended a few modern day attempts at a Midnight Spook Show, but they have never fit into my fantasy of what it should be. Then again, I romanticize about a time of silent cinema and Flappers on a regular basis, so it would be hard for modern day anything to live up to my expectations.
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