Can any of you remember the introduction of the VCR? (For those not old enough to know, VCR stands for Video Cassette Recorder.). I can vividly recall when our house got one. Wow! Now we could watch movies on demand. No longer were we slaves to the TV Network’s program schedules. We could program our new fangled hi tech VCR, record a program then watch it when we wanted to. The television bosses cried doomsday and these evil machines would spell the death of television, (they did say the same thing about DVDs too but network TV is still here although struggling to maintain audience share with streaming services such as Netflix.).
I vividly remember walking into to video stores and just being mesmerised by row after row of movie covers and being hard pressed to make a choice, just like a kid with a limited amount of pocket money wondering which lollies to buy!
So why am I mentioning the humble video when these blogs are about horror in cinema? Quite simply, so you’ll be able to better understand how the first cinema goers felt when they first saw that flickering screen with it’s moving images.
THE AMAZING GEORGES MEILE.
Georges Meile was a pioneer of the early cinema, not only was he a film maker, he was also a set designer, actor and illusionist. He created some of the most incredible special effects in his movies which had the audiences of the 1880’s gasping. Although most of his works were fantasy based, such as the The Impossible Voyage (Based on a work by Jules Verne.). He also created “darker works” such as The Haunted Castle. Can you imagine how terrified audience members, especially women of a delicate disposition at that time, would have been when confronted by a walking skeleton?
I mention this so you will have some idea of the impact of these films had. Even the fantasy films such as a A Trip To The Moon. with its insectoid moon aliens would no doubt have frightened some movie goers. As an example, compare it to how you felt when you first saw Jason Vorhees or Freddy Krueger commit their gruesome murders.
For the first time, book readers could see whether their imagination was on par with that of the film makers. The works of classic literature, from all genres would provide fodder for the coming film makers, (and you must remember Hollywood didn’t even exist at this stage.)
Cinema goers were in for a smorgasbord or thrills and chills.
COMING IN PART THREE: THE COMING OF NOSFERATU AND OTHER DARK STORIES.