October is upon us and thus begins the season of all things dark, creepy and sinister. Over the next month, I’ll be featuring events that set the mood for Halloween and the first event that caught my eye was Shocktoberfest in San Francisco.
This trio of noir-horror plays is celebrating its 12th year and is a collaboration between San Fransisco’s renowned Thrillpeddlers and author Eddie Muller, who wrote the evening’s plays. The Thrillpeddlers have been around for nearly two decades and specialize in authentic Grand Guignol horror productions. The Theatre Du Grand Guignol was located in the Pigalle neighborhood of Paris and was open from 1897 to 1962. It specialized in horror shows and today the term Grand Guignol is used to describe a wide range of graphic horror entertainment, ranging from Elizabethan theater to modern splatter films.
Eddie Muller is the founder and president of the Film Noir Foundation and is well known for writing books about film noir movies, leading author James Ellroy to dub him the “The Czar of Noir.” Each of his three plays in Shocktoberfest takes audiences through different periods of San Francisco’s history. The Grand Inquisitor focuses on an odd young woman who calls on a woman that she believes is the widow of a notorious San Francisco serial killer. An Obvious Explanation centers around a heist that goes awry when the thief suffers amnesia and forgets where he hid the loot. When an ambitious doctor steps in with an unstested “memory” serum, things take a dramatic turn. Finally, The Drug is an adaptation of Rene Berton’s classic two-act Grand Guignol, taken from its original setting of Saigon to San Francisco circa 1929.
The show will culminate with the Thrillpeddler’s “famed black-out spook show finale” where ghosts appear before the audience’s eyes. For a slightly higher price, attendees can enjoy the Hypnodrome’s “interactive audience-invading” Shock Boxes – themed love seats that allow couples to hide behind a sheer curtain, concealing their goings on in their own private booth, inspired by the original Theatre du Grand Guignol in Paris. The SF Weekly awarded these with the “Best Bonus Theater Experience” in their “Best of San Francisco 2008” awards. The theater also boasts a “Turkish Lounge” where couples can sit amongst Oriental carpets and silken pillows while watching the show.
Shocktoberfest runs on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights until Saturday, November 3rd and tickets are limited so get yours now right over here. Don’t miss this one-of -a-kind theatre experience that will not only transport you to another time and place but get you in the properly macabre state of mind for October, the spookiest month of the year!