The Knott's Berry Farm Halloween Haunt getting too stale/mobbed/kitschy/overpriced for your jaded, what-could-possibly-be-scarier-than-Governor-Bill-Simon sensibilities? Then take heart—yeah, gnaw it right out of someone's chest cavity!—because there's always Madame Guignol.
This is the seventh year the Hunger Artists have produced their gore-laden shock-o-rama (this one's called Madame Guignol's Fun House), done up not merely to tie in with Halloween, but also as an homage to Grand Guignol theater, that 19th century French invention that reveled in onstage blood and dismemberment—a severed arm here, a gouged-out eyeball there and so on. (Were it created today, Guignol would undoubtedly be youth-target-marketed with a dopey name, like Xtreme Faces of Death Live Onstage! or something.)
Given the Hunger Artists twist, Guignol becomes personified by the leggy Madame Guignol (Kimberly Fisher), your hostess-cum-dominatrix for an evening comprised essentially of a series of six short skits. Envision Rod Serling hosting Night Gallery, but in this take, Rod has a kinky blood fetish; is a whiz with a Ginsu; has a slimy, pussy-whipped manservant named Maggot (John Beane) and an irritating clown-as-foil (Fatima) to tie the separate tales of ghoulish behavior together.
This doesn't always work well, and there's some odd overlaying that make you wonder when one story ends and another begins. Adding to the clunk is a finely acted (by Allen Casey) but momentum-killing soliloquy of H.P. Lovecraft's The Outsider, notable only for its lack of blood spillage.
And really, carnage and evisceration are what Madame Guignol is all about, so let's cut to the good stuff, like:
•Freshly carved-out spleens, brains and testicles getting smashed with a hammer!
•Streams of blood shooting beyond the trash-bag-protected people in the front rows all the way to the back, like a Tim Salmon homer!
•Obnoxious teenagers feeling the ol' slice-'n'-dice from invisible entities after a round of Ouija board overindulgence!
•The most ear-piercing, knee-slapping-funny rape scene you'll ever see onstage—or at least admit to!
•Incan artifact dealers who just happen to be delusional killers!
•A Jesus-loving, Dr. Phil-following Irvine housewife who gets busy with a carving knife!
•A full-grown—and naked-ass-naked!—Satan Figure who pops out of this chick's pregnant womb and starts gnawing on the placenta! (Added bonus: he's well-hung, too!)
•Insane asylum loons who make a tasty snack out of journalists interviewing the unstable (read: totally fucked-up) asylum director!
What's not to love? Better than spending another All Hallow's season with Elvira, that's for sure.
MADAME GUIGNOL'S FUN HOUSE AT HUNGER ARTISTS THEATRE, 699-A S. STATE COLLEGE BLVD., FULLERTON, (714) 680-6803; WWW.HUNGERARTISTS.COM. THURS.-SAT., 8:30 P.M.; SUN.., 7:30 P.M.; SPECIAL PERFORMANCES, TUES.-WED., 8:30 P.M. THROUGH NOV. 2. $12-$15.