All throughout the Victorian era, ghosts and the supernatural were rampant. Why, then, when movies first came into being, among them Horror movies, and especially with the advent of sound in movies, was it so often necessary for filmmakers to reveal, at the end of their narratives, that the ghosts weren’t real, that it had all been a case of trickery or misunderstanding? (As in LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT, for example.) If the ghosts in all the ghost stories of the Victorian era were real, why did the ones in the movies have to be revealed to be fake? Was it for the same reason that, at the end of each episode of Scooby-Doo, the monsters were unmasked and revealed to just be regular people after all? Was it so necessary to assure the kiddies, and the adults, too, that such things were just make-believe? One could argue that burgeoning technological advancement is responsible. (For the trend in the first movies, that is, not for Scooby-Doo.) But that really isn’t important for the purposes of this post, which is to celebrate the movies that broke that tradition, and broke with it, by assuring audiences that monsters most assuredly *did* exist. What were those movies? There are two that come immediately to mind. If not the absolute first, they are certainly among the first Horror “talkies” to do it, and are for sure they are the most famous. I bet you can guess which they are.
Nobody was yanking any masks off the Monster in FRANKENSTEIN or off DRACULA. Because they were *for real.* As the last line in DRACULA reminded viewers, and still reminds us today: “When you get home tonight and the lights have been turned out and you are afraid to look behind the curtains—and you dread to see a face appear at the window—why, just pull yourself together and remember that after all, there are such things…” This scene, by the way, featuring Edward Van Sloan as narrator, was later cut from the film by censors due to a fear of it “encouraging a belief in the supernatural.” What were they so afraid of, back then?