Theatre of Blood

March 19, 2009

From TIME magazine – March 10, 1947

“Tucked away in a corner of Paris’ rue Chaptal, a cobblestone nook at the edge of Montmartre, is a quaint little Gothic chapel. Inside, carved cherubs and two seven-foot angels smile down from the black-raftered vault at a nightly round of vile murders, mangling, and assorted acts of torturing, fang-baring, acid-throwing.

The onetime chapel is now Le Theatre du Grand-Guignol (The Theater of the Big Puppets), the greatest horror show on earth. As a tourist attraction, it has ranked for years with the Eiffel Tower, Picasso, and the late maisons de tolerance.

Last week Grand-Guignol began its 50 th season with four new short plays which had been toned down for the benefit of queasy critics. It was not like the old days; there were only three gruesome murders, and there was no torture more horrendous than a barehanded strangulation. Nobody in the audience even fainted. The spectators, mostly old Guignol-goers and a few youngsters whose parents had warned them not to go, lounged around on rough wooden benches and had a modest emotional binge. A few couples in screened baignoires had another kind of binge on the indifferent house champagne.

“Really,” sighed English Actress Eva Berkson, who currently owns and operates the theater, “I’ve almost come to the conclusion that the only way to frighten a French audience since the war is to cut up a woman on the stage – a live woman, of course – and throw them the pieces!”

That is about what Grand-Guignol audiences hope to see in the most-famed, most-repeated plays:

Le Laboratoire des Hallucinations is the story of a doctor who discovers that a patient is his wife’s lover and graphically operates on the fellow’s brain. At the first opportunity, the crazed patient retaliates by graphically hammering a chisel into the doctor’s brain.

Un Crime dans une Maison de Fous (Crime in a Booby Hatch) is about two yellow-fanged old hags who are miffed at a new inmate because she is young and pretty. While one harridan pinions the newcomer’s wrists, the other wrenches back her head and plunges long scissors into her eye. “La! La!” she cries happily as gore spatters in all directions. When the hags have a difference of opinion, one shoves her pal against a red-hot stove.

Such realism is a passion with the Grand-Guignol . The stop-at-nothing tradition was established by Founder Max Maurey, who died last week. It was carried on by the late Andre de Lorde, “ Le Prince de la Terreur ,” the man who wrote the two favorite plays and many other Grand-Guignol classics. Says an old De Lorde fan: “He was a mild, sweet little man, always smiling.”

In make-up, especially, Grand-Guignoleurs excel. Their piece de resistance is a boiled, partly skinned head (the actor is wrapped in a silk stocking and daubed with putty, sponge, cloth and “blood”). The theater has a secret recipe for blood: when the stuff cools it coagulates and makes scabs. Thrill-hungry customers in the small auditorium get a dividend when they overhear the hoarse backstage whisper: “Vite, Edmond! Warm up the blood.””

Shame it’s gone now, eh? Gone but not forgotten…

Did I say strange…? Well, I meant crap really!

‘That bite had been deliberate; the walnut had purposely impregnated me, but to what purpose?’

John Russell Fearn
Lines taken from ‘Wings Across the Cosmos’ which appeared in Thrilling Wonder Stories, June 1938.

Oh, then there’s this:

‘The best aspect of it was that it was not the last place they’d look for her. Anticipating her reaction, they would look at once in the last place.’

Yeah, right. That beauty was John D. MacDonald no less!
‘Escape to Chaos’

What about this then…

‘He said, dropping his voice to a sibilant whisper of well-nigh incredible loudness: “Door yonder!”‘

Philip MacDonald
‘The Choice’

Had enough? One more? Okay –

‘The green feather of nausea blew through his intestines as if, during the night, he had polished off a keg of dandelion wine.’

Jeffrey Ford
The Cosmology of the Wider World

Oh, dear, oh dear, I just love that “green feather of nausea”…

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As a kid I was told:“Don’t Buy Things You Don’t Need With Money You Don’t Have!” Which has proved very good advice throughout my life…Do you think perhaps I should pass it on to the Chancellor and the Prime Minister?

See HERE.

You know crap is crap no matter how you dress it up or try to make it look different?

I call her Ria

March 19, 2009

“I call her Ria, but I could call her salt or lightning just as well.
The two of us do many senseless things, We call
them beautiful, and drop them.
She is carved out of x-rays. She radiates through
walls and my words. She is very far away.
If I am alone, she sits here in front of my eyes.
I think I must pain her, because she sighs and sheds
her sadness on my body.
How strange that no one has noticed the flowers
above her head! I have seen and heard them; they fling
colored bells in all directions.
From them, her future children smile at me.
She walks among them, takes care of them, thinking
meanwhile she is cleaning the house and making dinner.
We are prongs of the same tuning fork, and still, if
we look at each other at times sadness flies up with a
hoarse sound.”

Attila Jozsef

The artful woman…?

March 19, 2009

This is so beautiful…

Good advice

March 19, 2009

“So long as you write what you wish to write, that is all that matters; and whether it matters for ages or only for hours, nobody can say. But to sacrifice a hair of the head of your vision, a shade of its colour, in deference to some Headmaster with a silver pot in his hand or to some professor with a measuring-rod up his sleeve, is the most abject treachery.”

Virginia Woolf

Thought provoking…

March 19, 2009

Now this is a strange one…but it makes you think! See HERE.

The routine of a writer

March 19, 2009

“When I’m in writing mode for a novel, I get up at 4:00 am and work for five to six hours. In the afternoon, I run for 10km or swim for 1500m (or do both), then I read a bit and listen to some music. I go to bed at 9:00 pm. I keep to this routine every day without variation. The repetition itself becomes the important thing; it’s a form of mesmerism. I mesmerize myself to reach a deeper state of mind. But to hold to such repetition for so long — six months to a year — requires a good amount of mental and physical strength. In that sense, writing a long novel is like survival training. Physical strength is as necessary as artistic sensitivity.”

Haruki Murakami
The Paris Review, Summer 2004