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December 2, 2014

Before Modern Horror Movies, There Used To Be Live Horror Plays – Pictures of Horror Shows at the Grand Guignol Theater, Paris in 1947

Before modern horror movies, there used to be live horror plays. These plays were complete with all the semi-realistic blood and guts that the 1940s could conjure up. The most famous of these horror theaters was the Théâtre du Grand Guignol in Paris.

Not a haunted house, per se, but a serious theatrical enterprise that put on gruesome, faux-blood-splattered shows year-round for decades, the Grand Guignol featured staged killings, mutilations and scenes of torture so realistic that audience members often fled the theater in terror—when they weren’t transfixed by the grisly scenarios enacted mere feet from their seats.

Here's a series of photos showing horror shows at the legendary Théâtre du Grand Guignol in Paris from 1947.

Eye-gouging with surgical scissors by two insane women, jealous of a beautiful fellow patient who is about to be released, is a high point of Crime in a Madhouse, a Guignol classic.

In a gaslit alley off the Rue Chaptal in Montmartre, the little theater was patronized by the late General Patton and King Alfonso of Spain.

Realistic throat-cutting performed in The Hussy by honest farm lad on his depraved, scheming wife, is achieved by a trick dagger which contains 'blood' in handle.

Grand Guignol, Paris, 1947.

Gruesome retribution comes to eye-gouger ... when her insane accomplice fiendishly fries her face by pressing it against a red-hot stove.

Grand Guignol, Paris, 1947.

Grand Guignol, Paris, 1947.

Sulphuric acid vat used to produce skeletons for medical schools in The Corpse Merchant, reveals to a hysterical mother (left) the hideously corroded body of the villain whom she denounced as the strangler of her daughter. Guignolers take the law into their own hands and wreak their ingenious punishment mainly on utter blackguards.

Private boxes beneath the balcony at the Grand Guignol, Paris, 1947.

Grand Guignol, Paris, 1947.

Jap [sic] villain, after plunging daggers in shoulder and thigh of his victim administers abdominal coup de grace.

Grand Guignol, Paris, 1947.

Burned by vitriol thrown at him by his girl who comes to seek forgiveness, her lover turns slowly to reveal his elaborately blighted face. Then he strangles her.

Grand Guignol, Paris, 1947.

(Photos by Hans Wild—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)


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