In San Francisco, you need not worry about which horror movies the video store has in stock when there are half a dozen Halloween-themed plays you can see. “Shocktoberfest,” for instance, has become a Halloween tradition.
This annual blood-fest, put on by the Thrillpeddlers, is inspired by the Grand Guignol tradition of French horror plays, which means plenty of spurting blood whenever the occasion demands — and the occasion demands it frequently. As gruesome as it may sound, the show has a wicked sense of humor and an over-the-top style that will leave you laughing even as you cover your eyes.
The theater itself is part of the show. Besides traditional seats, there are Turkish lounges meant for two (think chaises draped with rugs and scattered with pillows). Or you can choose one of the interactive Shock Boxes, double seats in the back of the house that elicit intermittent screams when their occupants experience little moments of personal theater staged just for them.
This year’s double feature includes “The Phantom Limb,” a commissioned play set in a New Orleans brothel, and “The Torture Garden,” which was written in 1922 for the actual Theatre du Grand-Guignol and is being performed in English for the first time. Both provide good, gruesome fun for any aficionado of the macabre.
Los Angeles Times, October 23, 2009