Welcome! This site is brought to you by Thrillpeddlers, the San Francisco theatre company at the forefront of Grand Guignol performance today. Thrillpeddlers are featured in the documentary "Grand Guignol: A Theatrical Tradition" included as a bonus feature on Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd DVD (2-Disc Collector's Edition). Be sure to visit the Thrillpeddlers' website for information about current and upcoming productions. Enjoy!

What is Grand Guignol?

Grand Guignol PosterAs used today, the term 'Grand Guignol' (pronounced Grahn Geen-yol') refers to any dramatic entertainment that deals with macabre subject matter and features “over-the-top” graphic violence. It is derived from Le Theatre du Grand Guignol, the name of the Parisian theatre that horrified audiences for over sixty years. The theatre was founded in 1897 by Oscar Metenier as an extension of the naturalist movement, which had been popularized by André Antoine's Theatre Libre. A typical evening at the Grand Guignol Theatre might consist of five or six short plays, ranging from suspenseful crime dramas to bawdy sex farces. Grand Guignol PosterBut the staple of the Grand Guignol repertoire was the horror play, which inevitably featured eye-gouging, throat-slashing, acid-throwing, or some other equally grisly climax. Over the years, and under the direction of several different managers, the Grand Guignol theatre flourished, becoming one of the most popular tourist attractions in Paris. By the early 1960’s, however, the Grand Guignol’s formula no longer had the same impact with audiences, and in 1962, it closed its doors. Despite the fact that the Grand Guignol has fallen into relative obscurity, it has had a profound influence on the art of horror performance and special effects.

Click the links in the right column for more about the Grand Guignol.