These Monsters are Real.
Essay by Nicole Mollett published inside The Magic Lantern, March 2021
” Phantasmagoria shows included devils, skeletons, ghosts and strange mythical beasts which were skilfully rendered using fine brush strokes onto glass. Projected from behind screens, sometimes animated using trickery such as moving projectors, smoke and mirrors. The aim being to convince the audience of their authenticity. These hand-painted visions were both frightening, comical and gloriously grotesque.
Conjuring up supernatural beings from beyond the grave has long been a form of public entertainment. Whether through the Magic lantern, or in fairy tales, paintings or on the stage. A menagerie of beasts and monsters have always had a place in society’s collective cultural imagination. But do these diabolical creatures still have cultural significance today, and why are we still so fascinated by them? ‘‘