I love horror. As a kid, I already gravitated towards villains such as Maleficent in the Disney movies I watched, and as an adult I inhabit an apartment where the walls are covered in Lordi posters and various skulls, plastic severed limbs and other such macabre decor are my aesthetic of choice. And of course, I own a Jason Voorhees hockey mask because, well, I love horror movies.

One of my absolute personal favorite eras of horror cinema ever since I was young has been what many call the golden age of monster movies produced by Universal Studios ranging from around the 1920s to the 1950s. Films like Frankenstein, Dracula and The Wolf Man were a big part of my childhood, and they are films that I hold dear to this day. Heck, I have miniature busts of all three of the monsters whose movies I just listed! Apart from just being personal favorites of mine though, Universal's golden age of monster movies include countless upon countless films that are now widely considered classic staples of the horror genre that have laid the foundation for what the genre has become over the last century or so. It is therefor interesting to wonder just how audiences reacted to these films when they were originally released - back when they were brand new and not cemented into the canon of decades worth of horror movies like today.

It's questions of this nature that I couldn't help but ponder when watching Frankenstein on DVD I came across a short film in the DVD's bonus features simply titled Boo! The comedic short produced by Universal in 1932 is compiled of clips from two of their films - Frankenstein from 1931 and The Cat Creeps from 1930 - and one non-Universal film - Nosferatu from 1922 - with dubbed over narration and voices to create a completely new narrative from the pre-existing footage. The short is significant probably for more than any other reason because The Cat Creeps is considered a lost film, and the only known footage that has remained of the film is that included in Boo! So not only is Boo! a humoristic and quaint little riff on some classic horror films, it can in and of itself in a way be considered a classic.

As time goes by, however, the one thing I become more and more fascinated by is the fact that Boo! takes horror films that were brand new at the time and makes light of them. When for example Frankenstein came out, it broke new ground in more ways than one, evidenced by the fact that some of the film's more risky moments were edited and cut in certain places upon the film's release. It is perhaps also telling that the film opens with a warning from Edward Van Sloan telling the viewer that what they are about to see might upset them and that they should only proceed watching at their own discretion. Just a clever marketing trick or were the film makers genuinely worried that Frankenstein might be too much for the day's audiences to handle?

In any case, my point is that if films like Frankenstein and Nosferatu were to their time period what the most intense of our modern-day horror films are to ours, audiences must have been thoroughly shook up after viewing the films. Heck, Nosferatu is a 96-year-old movie and the character of Count Orlok still gives me the creeps. It is therefor that a short like Boo! is fascinating to me, because it's attempting to frame footage that at the time was probably considered horrific and terrifying into something lighthearted and funny. And I can't help but wonder how the short was received at the time. Did people in fact find it funny? Was the narrator telling jokes over horror film footage enough to strip the harrowing imagery of its power? And what does it tell us that Universal would be so ready and willing to make fun of their own horror films so soon after their respective releases?

The humor showcased in Boo! is certainly that of its time, and in light of what mainstream comedy of today is like I doubt many people would write the types of jokes present in Boo! anymore. Or if they did, they wouldn't be very popular. In any case, I still find the short amusing, and during its Frankenstein segment there are actually a couple of jokes that I find genuinely funny. But while certain elements of the short might seem dated, others, such as the film's form, do not. For example, the editing techniques the short utilizes, such as dubbing over actual dialogue with funny voices, and repeating one clip over and over again, or playing it in reverse, are all tricks still utilized by people making parody videos on YouTube today. Some things just never change, it seems.