Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Blood Will Tell

Eric Hart has a great article on "The Gore of Grand Guignol". It's interesting from both a historical perspective and as an example of the kind of effects that are possible using relatively simple materials and a healthy dose of creativity and stagecraft.

"The fan of both horror and theatre is sure to have heard of Grand Guignol. Though a producer of a variety of works, the infamous Parisian theatre is best known for its horror plays performed in the years leading up to World War II. Founded in 1894 by Oscar Méténier, Le Théâtre du Grand-Guignol offered up stories such as Le Laboratoire des Hallucinations, by André de Lorde: A doctor performs gruesome brain surgery his wife’s new-found lover. The man is turned into an insane zombie and plunges a chisel into the doctor’s brain. Anyone familiar with EC Comics will recognize the kind of plots this theatre performed.

When a theatre regularly displays amputations, burning in acid, eviscerations, stabbings and all other manner of violent actions, a prop person may ask: how realistic were these effects, and how were they pulled off?"


Anonymous said...

Hi Oakree, all effects were based on "big" illusions as done by magicians and pure theatre set tricks that made that everything look "real" and done at the instant. Going to this theatre was also in adventure as situated in a "bad" district of Paris at these times. People first were frightened to go there, then to see the frighten play and then to goe out !!!!! really a thrilling experience


Propnomicon said...

@ Alban

The French love of things like this, as well as their embrace of Lovecraft, are steadily turning me into a Francophile.

Raven said...

It was against this background that Anne Rice's "Théâtre des Vampires" (in Interview with the Vampire) could get away with performing vampirism in full public view, leaving the audience convinced that it was all only an act.

Oddly, Rice claimed she had never heard of the Grand Guignol, nor of the actual Parisian "Theater of Vampires". Not knowing they'd existed, she started fresh.