A Brief History of the Spook Show
“Yeah – what the heck IS a Spook Show Anyway!?”
Once a staple of urban neighborhood movie palaces in the 1940′s through late 1960′s, the Spook Show was a hilarious and slightly macabre evening of magic, comedy, and campy horror films featuring the highlight “Blackout Sequence” – a bit where in the darkness of the theater, patrons actually see glowing ghosts materialize out of thin air and fly just over their heads, see through skeletons dance and tell jokes on stage, and SWEAR they can hear, feel, and see “spirits” frolicking all around them in their seats!
The evenings show generally consisted of three parts; The Magic Show, where the “Ghost Master” – usually a magician would present 45-50 minutes of hilarious and spooky magic and illusions; The Blackout Sequence, where ghosts would “materialize” throughout the theatre, spirits fly over the heads of the audience, skeletons tap dance and tell funny jokes, and audiences are surrounded by apparitions; and finally The Feature Film, one of a number of classic horror movies like Night of the Living Dead, The Creature From the Black Lagoon or Frankenstein vs. Dracula!
To learn more about the Spook Show genre, we encourage you to listen to an interview by legendary Ghost Master Roy Huston recorded shortly before his death in 2009. Huston was a protégé of Jack Backer (Dr. Silkini), and ended up with Dr. Bill Neff’s show after Neff’s passing. Huston paints a very interesting portrait of what the Spook Show was like, as well as its captivating history as can only be told by someone who was there and lived it. Click the image to the left to listen to the interview.
Recently a DVD full of old Spook Show Film trailers with a bunch of other goodies and even a 3-D feature called”Monsters Crash the Pajama Party” has been released. It’s a must have for any Spook Show enthusiast! You can purchase the DVD which included 3-D glasses at Amazon.com by clicking the image on the right.
There are very few texts on the history of the Spook Show, but the most complete written history to date is called “Ghostmasters” by magic and Spook Show historian Mark Walker. It is not always an easy title to find, but copies can be purchased through Amazon.com by clicking on the image on the left.