Grand-Guignol Cinema and the Horror Genre

Grand-Guignol Cinema and the Horror Genre

Sinister Tableaux of Dread, Corporeality and the Senses

By Mario DeGiglio-Bellemare

Anthem Series on Exploitation and Industry in World Cinema

Grand-Gugignol Cinema and the Horror Genre maps important contributions of the Parisian Grand-Guignol theatre’s Golden Age as theoretical considerations of embodiment and affect in the development of horror cinema in the twentieth century. This study traces key components of the Grand-Guignol stage as a means to explore the immersive and corporeal aspects of horror cinema from the sound period to today. 

Hardback, 250 Pages

ISBN:9781839980961

February 2023

£80.00, $110.00

  • About This Book
  • Reviews
  • Author Information
  • Series
  • Table of Contents
  • Links
  • Podcasts

About This Book

Grand-Gugignol Cinema and the Horror Genre traces important contributions of the Parisian Grand-Guignol theatre’s Golden Age as theoretical considerations of embodiment and affect in the development of horror cinema in the twentieth century. This study traces key components of the Grand-Guignol stage as a means to explore the immersive and corporeal aspects of horror cinema from the sound period to today. The book is a means to explore the Grand-Guignol not only as a historical place and genre, but theoretically, as a conceptual framework that opens up an affective mapping of Grand-Guignol attractions in cinema. 

In a broader theoretical sense, Mario DeGiglio-Bellemare positions Grand-Guignol cinema in corporeal and affective terms as a way to discuss central themes from the Golden Age of the Grand-Guignol theatre as they figure within the framework of post-representational analysis in cinema studies. Post-representational analysis draws meaning out of matter, or the material intensities of films; here, making sense (representation and meaning) and also sensing (in a more corporeal, sensorial way) have political relevance that cut across gender, class, race and sexuality. The author deploys the Grand-Guignol as a conceptual tool to reveal its important influence on the horror genre by focusing on the dominant themes of the Grand-Guignol theatre that cinematic horror has taken up in its own immersive theatrics of the corporeal and sensorial.

This study’s restoration of a long Grand-Guignol tradition in cinema makes it a significant contribution to new theorizations of horror. It brings seemingly disparate traditions into conversation, as American, Canadian, French, and Italian cinema are all important sites for thinking through cinematic embodiment. These four countries have developed their own important genres and movements of Grand-Guignol cinema: the slasher, the “French Films of Sensation,” Canadian “body horror,” and the giallo. The Grand-Guignol famously operated in a dead-end of Chaptal Street, in the Pigalle district of Paris; this study offers affective and corporeal readings that open up new byways beyond the dead-end of psychoanalytic readings that continue to be dominant in horror genre scholarship.

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Author Information

Mario DeGiglio-Bellemare teaches courses in genre cinema, grotesque traditions, cinematic embodiment and monster ethics in the Humanities department at John Abbott College, Canada. He is also an independent filmmaker and the codirector of the Montréal Monstrum Society. 

Series

Anthem Series on Exploitation and Industry in World Cinema

Table of Contents

Introduction; Grand-Guignol Cinema and the Senses; Eyes without a Face, Attractions, Affect, and Facial Trauma; 1. The Grand-Guignol Theatre: A Place; A Short History of the Theatre and Spatial Ecologies of Dread in The Hitch-Hiker and Shivers; 2. Grotesque Carnivals of Stubborn Aurality; Murders in Rue Morgue, Freaks, and The Black Cat; Eating Discourse in Early Talkie Horror Film; 3. The Dreadful Sight of Corpses in the Ruins of Modernity; The Body Snatcher, Mad Love, and The Blood of the Beasts; Surgical Sadists under Censorship in pre and WWII Cinema; 4. Erotic Abattoirs of Bad Taste; Fascination, Grapes of Death, and Salò, or 120 Days of Sodom; Unproductive Potlatch in Exploitation Cinema; 5. French Colonial Skinning; Trouble Every Day, Sombre, and In My Skin; Affect and Becoming-Wound in the Cinema of Sensation; Conclusion; Blood and Black Lace and Psycho; Queer Drag Performativity, Tactile Dread, and Deadly Smells.

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