Blood gushes in crazy Shocktoberfest!! 

Torture never has been as much fun as it is in the trio of one-act plays developed for the Halloween season by Thrillpeddlers.

The enthusiastic troupe brings outrageousness to life at Hypnodrome, a cozy little South of Market theater under the freeway that adds to the show’s delicious funk factor.

This 11th annual Shocktoberfest!! program — based on Grand Guignol plays filled with horror and humor in Paris at the turn of the 20th century — overflows with fake blood and timeless themes.

Audiences may gasp with delightful disbelief at the grotesque images, but also may relate to the characters’ traumas, covering topics such as infidelity and jealousy.

The show begins with “Lips of the Damned,” set in a rat-infested museum of torture devices such as a state-of-the-art guillotine, ready and waiting to be used by its creator, who catches his wife cheating with another man.

“The Empress of Colma” tells a graphic tale of drag queens vying for a pageant title — a scorching iron provides some over-the-top thrills.

“Kiss of Blood” showcases the crudeness of surgery of the day, with drills and axes used to treat ailments that aren’t necessarily physical.

Pitch darkness takes over in the big finale, during which ghosts fly around the room and get up close and personal with audience members who pay a premium to sit in “shock boxes” that provide a particularly titillating experience.

Under the helm of director Russell Blackwood (who appears in “The Empress of Colma”), the divine and adventurous actors serve up the terror with skill and grace.

Although costumes and sets by Kara Emry, Drew Staffen and Tom Orr, and scenery by James Blackwood, stand out, it is clear that many highly imaginative and energetic individuals comprise Thrillpeddlers. The group exemplifies how good theater doesn’t result from spending tons of money, but from sweat, dedication, innovation, creativity and collaboration.

Theater Review

Shocktoberfest!! 2010

Presented by Thrillpeddlers

Where: Hypnodrome Theatre, 575 10th St. (near Bryant and Division streets), San Francisco

When: 8 p.m. Thursdays-Fridays; closes Nov. 19

Tickets: $25 to $35

Contact: (800) 838-3006,

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Leslie Katz

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