February 23, 2013
A haunting portrait of Boris Karloff as The Monster, painted by Daniel Horne, fronts the latest issue of Jim Clatterbaugh’s always excellent Monsters from the Vault magazine. The accompanying article, Ballyhoo and the Bride of Frankenstein, by John McElwee of the Greenbriar Picture Shows blog, is a gem.
Tracking box-office numbers, McElwee reveals how Bride and other classic horror films of the 30’s typically performed right out of the gate, often with record-setting receipts, but would fade fast, limiting engagements to a week, with few holdovers. Making a big splash on that first critical weekend required ballyhoo, the art of extravagant publicity, and the article is loaded with wonderful pictures of giant posters, character cutouts and live stunts that accompanied the film as it deployed across America in 1935. Here are the men in Frankenstein masks working the sidewalk crowds, the nurse booths in theater lobbies, mummy-wrapped dummies on gurneys, and ambulances parked out front. Newspapers ran a contest that had a lady sit alone through a midnight showing… “And When the Lights Go Up — If She’s Still There — A Crisp $5.00 Bill Is Her Reward!”
The article also features pages from Universal’s exhibitor’s magazine showing examples of wild ballyhoo and “showmanship” stunts from around the nation.
Also in Monsters from the Vault No. 31, Greg Mank examines censorship issues with James Whale’s non-horror One More River (1934), actress Candace Hilligross looks back at Carnival of Souls (1962), and an article on Bela Lugosi and the making of Scared to Death (1947).
The issue is out now and you can order directly from the publisher.