America's relationship to horror has always been, in the words of Laura Ingalls Wilder, "profoundly fucked up.*" While we'll never know the identity of the person that told the first ghost story, it's likely they found themselves tossed into a bog for their efforts. Superstitious people have trouble distinguishing fantasy from reality, and there was little difference to our primitive ancestors between telling a ghost story and conjuring an actual ghost.
Don't be daft.
These kinds of urban legends are hardly new, and they're not restricted only to movies. MACBETH has some of the best known superstitions in theatre, but the Hamilton Deane and John Balderston stage adaption of DRACULA had a few of its own. Above is a story from the July 15, 1929, issue of The Bakersfield Californian about problems that plagued the production. While the play was a financial success, the cast and crew were known to be "unlucky in private affairs."
There aren't a lot of names included in the story, which is interesting in itself. Here are a few highlights of The Dracula Curse:
- In New Haven, Connecticut., the stage manager, "a man noted for his coolness under fire," fell victim to asphasia ... a language disorder caused by brain damage.
- The play's leading lady lost her voice "for no accountable reason."
- A photographer fell into the orchestra pit while taking pictures of the play in Asbury Park, New Jersey. The focusing screen of his camera was smashed "without apparently being touched by human hands."
- Light signals from the stage manager to the electrician "went dead" without explanation.
(* She didn't actually say that.)