Minister of Science and Chief Protector of the Faith

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Bride of Frankenstein Scare Tactics


probably the best metaphor for the scare tactics that have been drummed up by the whole "birther", "deather", "tenther" and "teabagger" crowds can be found in these stunts pulled off by theaters that followed Universal's Exhibitor's Campaign Book for The Bride of Frankenstein (1935).

Universal's Exhibitor's Campaign Book for The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) suggests a number of "stunts" to pull in the crowds. Here, a giveaway set of teeth, either a rubber novelty item or flavored wax candy, to replace any you'd "swallow in excitement seeing the super-shocker". Another envelope contained candles to light your way home with, in case the movie made you afraid of the dark. Frankensteinia

For the enterprising exhibitor, the gag handouts could be rolled into an elaborate lobby display, the "First Aid Lobby Booth Stunt", providing "everything necessary for the audience who suffer 'thrill-shock' when seeing THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN". The booth should be "painted white, with the cross in red to make it as realistic as possible". Items, "all easily obtainable", included hair straightener and hair dye, spirits of ammonia, gum and cigarettes. Universal would recycle this stunt as the "First-Aid For Shock Booth" in the mid-40s for its House of Frankenstein and House of Dracula monster rallies, calling it "a time-honored stunt… should be taken from your files and dusted off."

The Bride Campaign Book also suggested having a trained nurse in attendance, although I suspect a costumed usherette would do just fine. She should walk up and down the aisle while the movie played, "to enhance the shock-angle".
Parking an ambulance out front was recommended as a natural "follow through" on the Booth and Nurse gags. "Banner this with catch lines and drive it around town for a ballyhoo. This is the money angle, experience has proven!"
The nurse and ambulance gags were longtime stunt staples for fright and suspense films. An ambulance out front was suggested for Frankenstein in 1931, and the gag was still being used in 1973 when The Exorcist was released. Frankensteinia

Classic movie ballyhoo was corny and a lot of fun. It survives today in the form of mass-produced die-cut lobby displays, high-priced Super Bowl ads and corporate tie-in Happy Meals. A lot slicker, much more sophisticated, but not as charming as the Old School stuff. Via Frankensteinia, Images via Max.

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At Mon Aug 31, 12:16:00 PM, Blogger sunshine said...

I'll take some hair dye though. (just in case I go see the new Rob Zombie Halloween movie next week).
Throw in some candles as well. :)
Okay, okay!!! Teeth too!
How much do I owe??

At Mon Aug 31, 01:01:00 PM, Blogger Seeing Eye Chick said...

The Republicons could hand out yummy jello brains to eat in case yours falls out, or gummy fetii--better yet, in case you have a spontaneous abortion after reading the thousand page bill. Self diagnostic X-ray glasses to give yourself a check up, in case your care is rationed [more often than usual] and a military endless perscription of Ibuprofin to cure every ill in the absence of actual care, diagnostic skill, or money to pay.

At Mon Aug 31, 02:59:00 PM, Blogger Utah Savage said...

What the Seeing Eye Chick said. She is so often right. I think I'll follow her home and blog roll her.

At Mon Aug 31, 03:00:00 PM, Blogger Utah Savage said...

Oh crap, she doesn't seem to exist.

At Mon Aug 31, 09:32:00 PM, Blogger susan said...

You just reminded me of one of my favorite directors - William Castle and the theater seats that were rigged to shock various members of the audience during 'The Tingler'. Yow, those were the good old days :-)
Come to think of it, John Waters pulled off something similar not all that long ago. Maybe there is hope after all.

At Tue Sep 01, 07:08:00 AM, Blogger Übermilf said...

PT Barnum

At Tue Sep 01, 09:57:00 AM, Blogger Randal Graves said...

I want to know where's the ambulance when, during surfing, I accidentally forget to skip past O'Reilly.

At Wed Sep 02, 06:43:00 AM, Blogger EspressoFrog said...

now now, wasn't there some kind of evil and ingenious organ vending machine as one of the weekly invention Exchange in MST3K ? And TV Frank needed like 7000 dollars in quarters in order to get a new kidney that eventually got stuck in the vending machine ?

That was brilliant stuff and evil too! Can't we hire Dr Forester as an evil healthcare consultant ?

At Wed Sep 02, 07:08:00 AM, Blogger ZIRGAR said...

Are you suggesting that under Obama's health care initiative we could become mere spare body parts for some grand pseudo-scientific reanimation project?


At Wed Sep 02, 08:37:00 AM, Blogger Dr. Zaius said...

Sunshine: That's the way it works! Just a few more items, and you can become a professional teabagger! ;o)

Seeing Eye Chick: I think that yummy jello brains would actually be an improvement of what is contained in some of the skulls of these town hall enthusiasts. ;o)

Utah Savage: Seeing Eye Chick is at Apocalyptics Anonymous II, Utah Savage. :o)

Susan: I loved the 'The Tingler'! Well, at least the last 10 minutes. Otherwise, it was a pretty dreadful movie. ;o)

Übermilf: Indeed!

Randal Graves: If you accidentally forget to skip past O'Reilly, then no ambulance in the land will be able to save you. ;o)

EspressoFrog: Yay! Dr Forester! I am all for evil healthcare consultants! I love MST3K. ;o)

Zirgar: Ha! You say that like we aren't already part of some some grand pseudo-scientific reanimation project! ;o)


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