If there’s one thing I especially like about going to the Fantasia Film Festival it’s that every couple of years I’m guaranteed to come across at least one new horror anthology; a genre that I feel is to cinema what UFO, Loch Ness Monster or Bigfoot sightings are to science. It’s something so mind-blowing and unique that the world isn’t quite ready to accept it yet, because if they did it would change everything.
I’ve said many times, with varying degree of emphasis, that the horror anthology is my “pet” genre. I’ve never seen a truly bad one in my life, or at the very least have never been bored by any of them. Pacing and length are usually my two main problems with most films, but with an anthology those problems are eliminated from the get-go. So when an effort is made to do a good one, the results can be nothing less than spectacular.
Theatre Bizarre is one of those efforts to make a good one, and it shows. A lot of care and love and attention went into it. The filmmakers of each segment didn’t just toss gore and entrails around in some lame attempt to shock. They thought about their work long and hard, and then they raped our brain… forever.
Here are my reviews of each individual segment:
Theatre Guignol (Wraparound): Directed by Jeremy Kasten
Finally, something that lets Udo Kier go all out. The thing that’s always nagged me about a lot of films Kier has acted in is that they sort of try and pigeonhole him in these more or less “ordinary” roles. Frankly, that just isn’t who he is. I’m sure he could blow everyone away playing a sweet German uncle or grandfather, but when I see him cast as Hans the transmission mechanic I think the filmmakers are pushing the limits of audience credulity.
The story is about a young woman who wanders into a Grand Guignol play acted out with animatronic robots. One of which (Kier) seems to become more and more human as time goes on, and functions in a kind of “Cryptkeeper” role to introduce each ghoulish tale.
Theatre Guignol let’s Udo be Udo, and this is a good thing.