Metraform and Edge Productions

at Cotton Chicago

Mick Napier, who conceived and directed both Splatter Theater and Splatter Theater II, is using his talents to capitalize on the slice-and-dice movies so popular these days. He has an obvious penchant for gore. In last spring’s press release for Splatter Theater, he traced the origins of the genre through the centuries. He knows the techniques, he knows the formula, and he knows that the top two ingredients are bad taste and blood. Splatter Theater II has plenty of both.

The show is entirely an excuse for spewing colorful substances around a white stage. Most of it is blood, but there’s other stuff, like vomit, scattered throughout for good measure. Everything else, including plot or acting, is secondary.

The story, such as it is, follows the standard teen horror-flick formula. A father and son move into a house in which another father and son were killed ten years ago. The son has a party and invites everyone in the neighborhood–the bimbo, the stud, the virgin, the policeman, the class clown, the lesbian neighbors, etc. The bimbo and the stud engage in gratuitous sex, the son and the virgin dance, the clown initiates a party game, and then the fun really begins. The man in the hockey mask comes in through the window and proceeds to slice everyone to pieces. The end. In between scenes there is a lewd puppet show–with a sleazy host and puppets consisting of a piece of meat, an uncooked chicken, and some hot dogs–and a raffle for an undisclosed prize to be given at the end of the show.

The idea is great. But the creativity in Splatter Theater II ended with its conception. The intended laughs are stock humor, and since the show finds fun only in the actual killings, the thing plays more like a snuff movie than anything else.

Some of the actors were fun, but the cast changes from night to night, so it’s impossible to say if this is always the case. The best acting the night I saw it came from the man who played both the nubile newspaper boy and the Meat Puppet Master, Vinnie the Squid, the sleazy puppet-show host. He combined just the right amount of tongue in cheek with an apparent awareness that this was a performance, not a beginning improv class (something much of the rest of the cast lacked). The Ominous Host was also charming, though he was more pleasantly twisted than scary.

The raffle prize is a treat for anyone who likes the show. And, to be fair, most people seemed to. Obviously, there’s something there for those who can appreciate it. My gore-hound friends assure me that the reason they watch splatter movies is to discover the psychological motivation of the killer. I think a lot of teenagers particularly enjoy the sex scenes. Personally, I like to be scared silly. In Splatter Theater II, we discover the killer’s identity, but get no clue as to why he would want to go on a killing spree. The sex is thankfully ludicrous, and the scariest parts are the blackouts, when you get the feeling that, indeed, anything could happen. But unless you get off on squirting blood, there’s more fun in a food fight.