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Theatre of Fear & Horror: The Grisly Spectacle of the Grand Guignol of Paris, 1897-1962

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  63 ratings  ·  10 reviews
"Bloodcurdling shrieks, fiendish schemes, deeds of darkness, mayhem and mutilation—we all have a rough idea of what Grand Guignol stands for. But until now it has been hard to find out much more about it than that. According to the American theater historian Mel Gordon, no major history of the theater so much as mentions it, although it is a form of entertainment that held ...more
Paperback, 220 pages
Published August 9th 2016 by Feral House
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Start your review of Theatre of Fear & Horror: The Grisly Spectacle of the Grand Guignol of Paris, 1897-1962
Carla Remy
Feb 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Guignol is a puppet, a character in Punch and Judy type plays. The name, in France, apparently came to stand for puppet shows in general, so Grand Guignol literally means Big Puppetshow. I loved the history of horror, through early humanity. I was curious about the Grand Guignol's famous violent effects, but it is basically what you'd think, sleight of hand and fake blood. It does sound pretty amazing. A horror movie live on the stage. ...more
Perry
I would give an arm and a leg to attend that 1925 Grand Guignol production of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
Greg
Mar 12, 2019 rated it liked it
I have more questions than answers, after reading this book:
-Why were the French the first to embrace the novels (and make films of them) the very dark novels coming out of America in the late 1940s? They already had "Grand Guignol" theatre and wanted more perhaps?
-And why did Anne Rice's (fictional, natch) vampires use a "Grand Guignol" type theatre called "Theatres des Vampires"? So they could murder innocent victims on stage (for bloood) convincing the audience it was 'theatre'? But why not i
...more
Daniel
Sep 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review originally published in Looking For a Good Book. Rated 3.75 of 5

I've heard of the Grand Guignol of Paris and that it was horror or even depraved theatre, but I didn't really know too much about it. It's not the sort of theatre taught in the local colleges. The sub-title, I think, really gets it right when calling it a "grisly spectacle."

Author Mel Gordon has thoroughly researched this popular French form of drama and given us a look at the performers, the stories, and the audience th
...more
Mckenzie Ragan
A quick historical overview of a fascinating subject and time period. The late Mel Gordon’s interests as presented in his books, ranging from stage techniques to the ‘erotic world of Weimar Berlin,’ are generally noted for their deviation from orthodoxy within academic circles. I haven’t read enough to say if this is just in terms of content or something else (I would guess content). At least at the time of publication, the Grand Guignol would fit under that broad umbrella of fringe scholarship ...more
Jack
Oct 05, 2016 rated it liked it
Mel Gordon's Theatre of Fear and Horror: The Grisly Spectacle of the Grand Guignol of Paris 1897-1962 is many things under one set of covers; it's part history of the macabre Grand Guignol theatre, part analysis of the appeal of the theatre's horrific spectacle as popular entertainment, a catalog of the kind of plays that were performed at the theatre, and a reproduction of a few scripts and original documents from the theatre's history.

The historical section of the book is brief. It reads as a
...more
Bill Wallace
Oct 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
The best book in English on the Grand Guignol is even better, though far from perfect, in an edition that adds color poster plates and more photographs of the stage productions. The subject of Paris' horror theater is best approached from several sides -- in the context of social realism that birthed the playhouse, as the most visible ancestor of a genre of fiction that includes EC comics, splatter fiction, and gore movies, and as dramatic entertainment that deliberately aspired to provoke unhea ...more
Paul Creasy
Nov 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing!

For those who have heard of the Gran Guignol, opportunities for finding details are scarce. This book delivers such details. With amazing production stills, full plotlines and plays revealed and an incredibly detailed history, all curiosities have been answered. Give this tiny theatre's outsized influence on the culture of not only France, but all of Europe and the US, the history of the Gran Guignol should be better known. This book rectified that. I highly recommend!
...more
Megan Hex
I'll be honest; I probably would have rated this higher had I not read it on an e-ink Kindle, because I imagine the illustrations are glorious in color. That said, I wish there had been more history or more actual scripts rather than all the plot summaries. Otherwise good and informative. Now off to find more scripts in English! ...more
Luke
Dec 06, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020
The Grand Guignol was Paris's smallest theatre, was named for a horrifying puppet, and was also a place where you could see various comedies interspersed with incredibly vivid, naturalistic horror.



Couple of laughs and some throat-slitting? Sure, mon ami, sounds swell.

The theatre - which ran from 1897 to 1962 - was where the hoi polloi could get up close with bloody action, spread over a course of several small plays in each performance. It's an important place, and the thing of legend, influenc
...more
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