The Theatre Bizarre is a 2011 horror anthology film. The six segments were directed by Douglas Buck, Buddy Giovinazzo, David Gregory, Karim Hussain, Tom Savini and Richard Stanley. Each of the stories was inspired by Paris’ legendary Grand Guignol theatre.
The six stories are presented within a connecting framework, “Theatre Guignol”: Enola Penny is intrigued by an abandoned theatre in her neighbourhood. One night the theatre door mysteriously opens and she enters. A puppet host (or Guignol, Udo Kier) introduces six short films. “Mother of Toads”, “I Love You”, “Wet Dreams”, “The Accident”, “Vision Stains” and “Sweets”. As each is shown, the host becomes more human and Enola becomes more puppet-like.
“I Love You”, “Wet Dreams” and “Sweets” match the Grand Guignol genre: physical or psychological cruel horror with natural explanations, each a combination of the cynical, amoral, ironic, frisky or gory.
“Mother of Toads” is loosely based on a supernatural horror story by Clark Ashton Smith. In “Vision Stains” a writer/serial killer injects fluid extracted from her victims’ eyes into her own to experience their lives for her journals. Most reviews note “The Accident” seems out of place: a mother and daughter thoughtfully discuss the nature of death after witnessing an accident.
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“One of the best horror anthologies in recent memory, The Theatre Bizarre features seven (the six shorts and the wraparound) distinctive stories that together make for a very satisfying motion picture experience.” 2,500 Movies Challenge
“Though it’s difficult to recommend The Theatre Bizarre as a whole, at least three of the featured segments are strong enough to warrant a look from devoted horror fans, with one among them standing out as a mini-masterpiece that transcends the genre altogether.” AllMovie
“The Theater Bizarre is a lot of fun; the film is sequenced well, and the movie’s sensibilities lean towards fun gore (and not a small amount of nudity) […] It really is a shame that the long-awaited latest from Richard Stanley is just so damn terrible, but the rest of the film’s gory goodness more than makes up for it.” Badass Digest
“It’s unique, stylish and feels very European. It’s kind of the opposite of V/H/S, which has a muddy look and goes for straight horror and scares and it provides a nice alternative. I did not care for all of the segments, which you rarely would with a horror anthology but it is a nice collection of films…” Cinema Terror
“The Theatre Bizarre is reminiscent of many of the horror compendiums that preceded it. An up and down and down mish-mash of styles and sub-genres, overall this is a fun, dark, gory, intriguing, addition to the fold. When one segment stumbles, there isn’t long to wait for something better to come along, and most have at least something to recommend them or make them stand out.” The Last Thing I See
“The Theatre Bizarre (2011) is a wide-ranging and deeply dark assortment of tales, not all were of the caliber of Stanley’s “Mother of Toads” but each was well-crafted, interesting and stylish in its own way. In my experience very few anthologies fire on all cylinders from start to finish, that’s just the way of the format, but The Theatre Bizarre offers plenty of screams for fans of dark, psychological and sometimes Lovecraftian thrills.” McBastard’s Mausoleum
“The Theatre Bizarre is uneven, nay all over the place, but the fact that its wraparound is so utterly ceremonious holds the rickety boards together. At times it is almost art-house and others it is all about the copious splatter. Either way, it turns, it does manage to hold your attention throughout its two-hour stay and that has been the Achilles heel of so many anthologies, again Amicus excluded.” Rivers of Grue
“How much mileage you’ll get will obviously depend on your tastes as like any good anthology film, this one is all over the place but all in all The Theatre Bizarre is a breathe of twisted, morbid fresh air far removed from mainstream formulaic horror and a film made with an obvious passion for the genre by all involved. Rock! Shock! Pop!
“Out of the six short films – and framing device – contained within, the best is not only head and shoulders above the other five it’s so utterly restrained, quietly moving and unexpectedly profound that it makes most of the other directors look like children trying to get away with something naughty. It’s a shame because much of the rest of the collection is hardly bad – even the mediocre stuff is at least interesting.” Screen Anarchy
“The stories that rely the most on editing are the ones that fail. They fail to create suspense and generate confusion instead. The first half of the anthology contains the better segments, making the second half hard to sit through.” Tales of Terror
“Deviant, demented and occasionally delicious, The Theatre Bizarre offers a hallucinatory flashback to the heyday of omnibus horror while also making a statement about the art: For all its Grand Guignol-inspired excesses, what separates this all-star-helmed portmanteau from the rest of the slavering genre pack is its intelligence, humanity and sense of perverse mischief.” Variety
“The Theatre Bizarre is a nice addition to the many horror anthologies around. At times, well, bizarre, bloody and even thought-provoking. It’s worth your attention.” Wight Blood
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