Murder, madness, humor and satire fill “Grand Guignol: A Theatrical Horror Halloween Event” this week at Z Space in The City.
Set in 1903 Paris, the production, a psycho-comedy-thriller, comes from the wild imagination of British playwright Carl Grose (“49 Donkeys Hanged,” “Superstition Mountain”). It’s one reason why horror-film writer-director Mitchell Altieri jumped at the chance to become a part of it.
“The producer said that they wanted something dramatic, and for me, Carl’s script was what made me say yes. It was funny, it was dark. I share the same kind of twisted humor he has. The first thing I thought was, ‘This could really be a movie.’ And that’s what really excited me about it,” says Altieri, who, along with filmmaking partner Phil Flores, has a cult following under the alter egos The Butcher Brothers. Their movies include “The Hamiltons,” “April Fools Day” and “The Violent Kind.”
Altieri also was interested in social aspects of the project. “I was intrigued with doing theater that was not necessarily for ‘theater people.’ We wanted this to be interactive and fun,” he says. “And also, to make it more of a social outing and revive that kind of spirit, which is lost.”
Action in the show unfolds in the back streets of Montmartre, right about the time the Theatre du Grand Guignol — known for its productions packed with madness, murder, maiming and mutilation — swings its doors open to the public.
At the forefront is Dr. Alfred Binet, an obsessed psychiatrist who inadvertently becomes part of the theater company. In an attempt to understand why the playwright pens horror stories, he somehow becomes the writer’s new muse.
Suddenly, the Grand Guignol is a burgeoning success — until a serial killer goes on a rampage.
IF YOU GO
Grand Guignol: A Theatrical Horror Halloween Event
Where: Z Space, 450 Florida St., S.F.
When: 7 and 10 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday
Tickets: $15 to $195
Contact: (866) 811-4111, www.GrandGuignolsf.com
Note: Halloween performances Thursday are followed by an after-party from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. at Caña Cuban Parlor, 500 Florida St., S.F.