Down a seedy city street, a young woman is obsessed with what appears to be a long abandoned theatre. One night, she sees the front door slightly ajar and impulsively decides to sneak inside. But there in the vast, eerie auditorium, a show unlike any other unfolds before her eyes. Its host is an odd marionette- like man who will introduce her to six tales of the bizarre: A couple traveling in a remote part of the French Pyrenees crosses paths with a lustful witch; A paranoid lover faces the wrath of a partner who has been pushed to her limit; The Freudian dreams of an unfaithful husband blur the lines between fantasy and reality; The horrors of the real world are interpreted through the mind of a child; A woman addicted to other people’s memories gets her fix through the fluid of her victims’ eyeballs; And a perverse obsession with sweets turns sour for a couple in too deep. But as the stories unfold, something strange is happening to the woman. Something irreversible and horrific. Something that awaits its next audience in THE THEATRE BIZARRE.“The idea for THE THEATRE BIZARRE was hatched when I was editing a DVD featurette for the 1990 art-house portmanteau ARIA, directed by Jean Luc Godard, Robert Altman, Nicolas Roeg, Ken Russell and others,” explains producer and Severin Films CEO David Gregory. “Horror anthologies have a rich history dating back to the silent era, and include classics like DEAD OF NIGHT, BLACK SABBATH, SPIRITS OF THE DEAD, THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD, CREEPSHOW and more. I felt that the notion of giving filmmakers a general concept, the same budget and complete creative control would lend itself perfectly to a modern horror film. In my opinion, there is no other genre where unleashing the unrestrained creative ideas of filmmakers could redeem such an outlandish array of stories and images.”The project’s seven chosen filmmakers – Richard Stanley, Buddy Giovinazzo, Tom Savini, Douglas Buck, Karim Hussain, David Gregory and Jeremy Kasten – had all made at least one modestly budgeted and internationally acclaimed movie in the horror field, and comprise what Fangoria calls “horror’s most adventurous minds.” But the true test would come with the financial and creative logistics of bringing together six directors from around the world to create a cost-effective and effects-laden omnibus of terror. “There was no doubt that this was a good vehicle for Severin Films as a production company, but how would we get such an insane project financed?” Gregory says. “Sending filmmakers money and telling them to come back with a film without any restrictions would never have flown at the average film finance corporation. Luckily my old friend Daryl Tucker was up for the challenge of executive producing, and after Fabrice Lambot of Paris-based Metaluna Productions came aboard we were off and running.”“We approached some of the most talented directors in the horror genre and told
them, ‘Here’s your budget and this very broad idea that your film will be playing in a Grand Guignol-esque theatre. Come back with your movie.’” explains executive producer Daryl J. Tucker. “And while the filmmakers had to take a step back in terms of budgetary levels, I strongly believe it forced them to rediscover the passion and creativity they had when they started as filmmakers, making their earliest and often finest works. No other creative restrictions existed, except that they were required to be at the very top of their game as six of modern horror’s most distinctive auteurs.”
For Richard Stanley, ‘Mother of Toads’ marks his return to the director’s chair for the first time in 18 years. The South African born filmmaker, whose visionary work includes the cyber-punk cult classic HARDWARE, traveled to the French Pyrenees to shoot his evocative tale of young travelers and an ancient evil. Inspired by the stories of Clark Ashton Smith and H.P. Lovecraft, ‘Toads’ also marks the return of ‘80s horror queen Catriona MacColl – best known for her roles in Lucio Fulci’s CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD, HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY and THE BEYOND – as the witch who holds the erotic key to a diabolical curse. Additionally, the film features a spellbinding score by British composer Simon Boswell, whose award-winning scores also include Dario Argento’s PHENOMENA, Alejandro Jodorowsky’s SANTA SANGRE, Danny Boyle’s SHALLOW GRAVE, and Stanley’s HARDWARE and DUST DEVIL. “Horror fans have been waiting nearly two decades for Richard to return to the genre,” says producer Fabrice Lambot. “It was an incredible experience to watch him weave his tale in the mountains of Southwest France, where a weird aura of sorcery infused every frame.”For writer/director Buddy Giovinazzo, his project offered an opportunity that has become elusive for even the most veteran filmmakers. “‘I Love You’ was a chance to do something completely on the edge,” he says. “It’s so rare for any filmmaker to find a situation where they can truly express themselves without any censorship of some sort. Even with my independent films, there was always pressure to make the film more ‘commercial’. With THE THEATRE BIZARRE, there are no boundaries. I love that kind of freedom, and I jumped at the opportunity to work on a project that would also be a part of a bigger film with so many directors whom I respect and admire.” Staten Island born Giovinazzo is himself widely admired by genre fans, and whose 1986 film COMBAT SHOCK remains one of the most startling indie shockers of our time. He went on to write and direct such features as the 1996 Tim Roth-starrer NO WAY HOME and 2009’s acclaimed ensemble drama LIFE IS HOT IN CRACKTOWN (adapted from his novel), as well as numerous works for German television. Filmed in Buddy’s adopted home city of Berlin, ‘I Love You’ is a physically and emotionally harrowing story of obsession, fueled by a stunning performance by André Hennicke (co-star of ANTIBODIES and David Cronenberg’s A DANGEROUS METHOD) as a damaged man struggling to confront the end of his marriage. “It’s an original script idea I’ve had for a long time about what happens when love crosses into that netherworld of obsession and madness,” Buddy explains. “I wasn’t sure if it would work as a feature length story, but it fits perfectly in THE THEATRE BIZARRE.”The idea behind ‘Wet Dreams’ by Tom Savini – arguably the best-known name among THE THEATRE BIZARRE filmmakers – began with the gore icon’s own sexual nightmare. “We wanted to do an old-school Tom Savini movie with practical effects and really gory things,” says producer Michael Ruggiero of Nightscape Entertainment, “and I figured Tom had to have something that’s been in the back of his mind his whole career that he’s never had the chance to do. And that was the perfect way to start this story.” For Savini, whose landmark effects work on DAWN OF THE DEAD and FRIDAY THE 13th have come to define the genre – as well his go-for-broke performances in such films as FROM DUSK TIL DAWN and MACHETE – it was an opportunity to participate in a feature directing situation for the first time since his 1990 remake of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. His ‘Wet Dreams’ – starring scream queen Debbie Rochon and Savini himself – delivers an absolute orgy of flesh, from the naked and writhing to the severed and gushing. It’s a genuine throwback to the glory days of ‘80s excess, featuring jaw-dropping splatter by Pittsburgh based Toetag EFX, and one show stopping ‘guest effect’ by industry legend Greg Nicotero of KNB.“At the time I was asked to participate in THE THEATRE BIZARRE, I was in a particular frame of mind where I wanted to do something quieter and more reflective,” says writer/director Douglas Buck of his ‘The Accident’. “So I took the opportunity to tell a small story that I hope reflects a little on the meaning of why we create grisly artifice like Grand Guignol in the first place as a way to deal with the pain and brutality we see.” The New York born Buck, whose typically raw films include the 2003 Sitges sensation FAMILY PORTRAITS: A TRILOGY OF AMERICA and the recent remake of Brian DePalma’s SISTERS, here delivers a softly disquieting meditation – featuring a mesmerizing score by composer Pierre Marchand, best known for his award-winning collaborations with Sarah McLachlan – on death and violence as seen through the eyes of an 8 year old girl. “Each director in this project has carved a nice little niche for himself for creating boundary-pushing work, all filtered through a particular unique style. To bring us all together, giving everyone the same fixed small budget and yet the complete freedom to realize our visions, has clearly sparked our creative juices. I love how ‘The Accident’ has turned out, and my gratitude will forever go out to the producers for giving me this opportunity.”“An offer of total creative freedom is something a bit too tempting to overlook these days,” agrees Montreal-based writer/director Karim Hussain. “And when so many colleagues agreed to participate, it became about doing a labor of love with good friends.” Hussain, whose unforgettable 1999 debut SUBCONSCIOUS CRUELTY utilized the anthology format, is also a celebrated cinematographer whose recent work includes HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN as well as the Buck and Stanley segments of THEATRE BIZARRE. Hussain’s ‘Vision Stains’ is an intensely provocative look at addiction, compulsion and perception. “It’s about a woman who believes that visual memories get trapped in the vitreous fluid of the eyes that have seen them,” he explains. “Like an image junkie, she steals the fluid in their eyes and injects it in her own to write down their stories.” Hussain’s vision – including several disturbing scenes of eyeball violence – delivers a daring mix of graphic physical horror and dark existential mayhem. “Kaniehtiio Horn (of the popular Canadian sitcom 18 To Life, as well as Walter Salles’ upcoming adaptation of Kerouac’s ON THE ROAD) is the lead, and she’s amazing. She has guts, which is rare these days for young actresses who are usually more interested in being pretty on-screen and making sure no one sees their nipples. She’s very focused and was willing to dive into some very dark and unusual places for the film.”David Gregory’s ‘Sweets’ is a slyly subversive story of gluttony with a deliciously sick twist. “I’ve always been interested in images that straddle the line between beautiful and repulsive,” the British-born/Los Angeles based filmmaker admits. “They may be opposite ends of the taste spectrum but when the two are mixed well I feel that the result can be all the more alarming. With ‘Sweets’ I wanted to push this concept based on a crumbling relationship and the extremes of addiction, specifically a food addiction, and how it affects two people differently as they indulge themselves to the absolute limit.” Gregory, the industry’s foremost documentarian of horror films and whose own 2008 feature debut PLAGUE TOWN was welcomed as “one of the very few memorable horror flicks of the year” by Films In Review, reveled in his project’s sticky surfeits, including a sultry cameo by ‘70s horror star Lynn Lowry of THE CRAZIES and SHIVERS fame. “The conditions on the set were kind of disgusting, what with all the sickly foodstuffs and general fatigue due to the inhuman schedule, not to mention the bloodbath that ultimately ensues, but this was without doubt the most fun shoot I’ve done,” he says. “Everyone was there for the purpose of doing something unlike we had ever done before and I believe we achieved that goal. From the folks that I’ve shown it to so far, some find it fun, some disturbing, others downright stomach churning, and sometimes a combination of the three…which was the intention all along.”For the film’s wraparound segments, writer/director Jeremy Kasten – whose 2007 remake of Herschel Gordon Lewis’ THE WIZARD OF GORE was steeped in modern Guignol mayhem – enhanced the horror show concept with location shooting inside downtown Los Angeles’ historic yet ominous Million Dollar Theater, the first movie house built by Sid Grauman of Chinese Theater fame (and currently owned by Robert Voskanian, director of the ‘70s grindhouse classic THE CHILD). Utilizing touches of Italian giallo and a literal interpretation of Le Théâtre du Grand-Guignol – which means ‘Theater of the Big Puppet’ in French – Kasten bookends the film with a delectably sinister performance by the legendary Udo Kier (star of such horror classics as ANDY WARHOL’S FRANKENSTEIN and ANDY WARHOL’S DRACULA, SUSPIRIA and MARK OF THE DEVIL, blockbusters like ARMAGEDDON and BLADE, and art-house hits that include MY OWN PRIVATE IDAHO, SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE and Lars von Trier’s DANCER IN THE DARK, BREAKING THE WAVES and MELANCHOLIA) as the theatre’s marionette-like host Pegg Poett. “THE THEATRE BIZARRE is a unique project in that it brings together so many points of view from the horror genre into one movie,” says Kasten, “and does so with little or no constraints. The fact the everyone had the opportunity to make a film with no meddling and full script and edit approval allowed it to be a purer vision of these various horror auteurs’ work.”The anthology has already been hailed by Fangoria as “a film that will give an eye-injection to horror fans everywhere.” And in the end, THE THEATRE BIZARRE stands tall as a daring new take on a classic theme, a bold experiment in creative freedom, and an uncompromising statement on the possibilities of independent horror. “The majority of the horror films currently produced by the Hollywood system are either tired remakes or well worn narratives that take no risks and have no balls,” says Daryl Tucker. “Consequently, it’s become increasingly rare for today’s horror filmmakers to be handed complete control of the creative reins. That atmosphere of genuine artistic freedom is what I feel is the true achievement of THE THEATRE BIZARRE. Our hope is that audiences will applaud the film’s fearless spirit and be blown away by its diverse and disturbing results.”
That’s cult icon Udo Keir in Severin Films’ upcoming The Theater Bizarre, a horror anthology, which features film segments directed by Richard Stanley (HARDWARE), Tom Savini (NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD remake), Buddy Gionvinazzo (COMBAT SHOCK), Douglas Buck (SISTERS remake), Karim Hussain (SUBCONSCIOUS CRUELTY), David Gregory (PLAGUE TOWN), and Jeremy Kasten (WIZARD OF GORE remake) which will have its world premiere at the 2011 Fantasia Film Festival in Montreal on July 16th at 9:20pm.
After the jump, check out the trailer and some more details regarding the film.