The earliest Phantasmagoria started under the guise of séances or meetings in which a spiritualist attempted to communicate with the spirits of the dead. The first recorded examples were in Germany in the late 18th century and gained popularity through most of Europe throughout the 19th century. Their proprietors specialized in thrilling audiences with macabre illusions created primarily through what was then a cutting-edge projection technology called the magic lantern.
Within a dimly lit chamber images such as skeletons demons and ghosts were projected onto walls, smoke, or semi-transparent screens and typically used rear projection to keep the lantern out of sight. Some Phantasmagoria included additional sensory stimuli such as odors, wind and electric shocks!