The anthology film, a collection of shorts often connected by a single thematic idea, has a long and storied history in cinema, and the format is enjoying a bit of a recent revival. The Sundance Film Festival premiered a new anthology of found-footage horror shorts called “V/H/S,” a project that brings together six directors — Adam Wingard, David Bruckner, Ti West, Glen McQuaid, Joe Swanberg and a collective known as Radio Silence. Filmmaker David Gregory has his own offering, “The Theatre Bizarre,” which will screen in Los Angeles at the Nuart Theatre on Friday at midnight in addition to other limited engagements across the country.
It was while working on a DVD featurette for the film “Diva,” an ’80s era art house anthology with entries by Jean-Luc Godard, Robert Altman, Nicolas Roeg and others, that Gregory had his own idea for a collection of horror shorts. “I think now people are allowed to explore the genre in more intelligent ways,” he said. Gregory assembled a diverse group of filmmakers – Richard Stanley, Buddy Giovinazzo, Tom Savini, Douglas Buck, Karim Hussain and Jeremy Kasten alongside himself – with only the most bare-bones of directives on what to create within certain budgetary and technical constraints. The basic concept was that the shorts would be tied together by the concept of the macabre French theatrical tradition known as “Grand Guignol.”
Kasten shot the sequences that connect the films, with Udo Kier as something of a marionette MC. From there the films are each distinct, united by an off-beat sensibility and undercurrent of creepy anxiety more than actual gore. Stanley’s “Mother of Toads” exists in a fantasy realm. Giovinazzo’s “I Love You” and Savini’s “Wet Dreams” each take place in a contemporary world of psycho-sexual pathology. Buck’s “The Accident” and Hussain’s “Vision Stains” create bracing allegories out of automobiles and addiction. Gregory’s own “Sweets” is a semi-comic look at desire.
“We’re going to show what a diverse world horror is,” Gregory said. “It’s not that simple and we all have a different perspective on what represents horror to us. People tend to dismiss horror as something just kind of simple and splatter-like and sort of one step above porn. There’s a multitude of different ways to approach horror and we all have horror stories, we all have nightmares and things that frighten us or disturb us.”
– Mark Olsen
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