32 years later, ‘Splatter’ sequel arrives at Annoyance Theatre
Though “Splatter II” (as the show’s writer/director refers to it) incorporates some clever callbacks to “Splatter I,” the sequel is more than a splatt-ier retread of its predecessor.
It’s a nightmare come true for horror fans. After 32 years, Annoyance Theatre has finally created a sequel to its annual slasher spoof “Splatter Theater.”
“I Know What You Did Last Splatter,” written and directed by Joe McDaniel, continues through Oct. 26, with a special performance on Halloween.
“Splatter II,” as McDaniel has dubbed the show, picks up seven years after the original’s Mayfield Massacre and focuses on the lone surviving victim of the serial killer in “Splatter I.” The two plays are running back-to-back, with a break in between to bleach the set clean of fake blood, but can be seen individually. (“Splatter Theater” is directed by Charley Carroll.)
Though “Splatter II” incorporates some clever callbacks to “Splatter I,” the sequel is more than a splatt-ier retread of its predecessor.
‘I Know What You Did Last Splatter’
When: Through Oct. 26; special show Oct. 31
Where: Annoyance Theatre, 851 W. Belmont
Tickets: $22 per show; or $30 for both “Splatters”
“We figure if somebody’s watched a whole show where the gag is ‘We’re just throwing blood all over the walls,’ maybe people don’t want to see that for two shows in a row,” McDaniel said. “So we’re trying to evolve it a little bit.”
“Splatter II” replaces “Splatter I”’s frenzy of largely improvised sketches, in which walking stereotypes (the Jock, the Virgin, etc.) are killed in absurdly grisly ways, with a more contemporary plot-driven take on horror. Think supernatural instead of masked-man butchery, said McDaniel, who cited “Suspiria” and “Midsommar” as sources of inspiration.
In collaboration with his almost entirely female cast, McDaniel has crafted a script that gives the actors a chance to develop their characters before their guts are spilled.
“The hope is that it can be both really gnarly and also tug at you a little bit,” said McDaniel.
“I’m hoping that as these horrible things happen to the characters in the show, the audience, even if they’re laughing, they feel something for the characters. That when people die, it’s not just, ‘Oh look at that goofy way the person died,’ but it’s maybe a little bit sad.”
Make no mistake, “Splatter II” is still intent on delivering the gags, thrills and gore. McDaniel, for one, loves the adrenaline rush of being scared to death, and then releasing that tension with a laugh. “It’s a bit like a drug, it changes your physiology,” he said. It’s just that “Splatter II” holds out longer on the moments of carnage so that when they do come, they’re that much more shocking and creepy.
“There’s one scene that even still kind of gets me while we do it,” McDaniel said. “The girl, her back gets flayed, and it’s very cringey and you have to sit in it a little longer than you’d want to.”
Given the shoestring budget of theaters like Annoyance, an effects-laden production, much less a double “Splatter” feature, is a significant undertaking.
McDaniel credited stage manager Jessica Thomas for bringing the horrors in his head to life.
“I can be writing and call her and be like, ‘Hey, I want to do this thing, can you figure out a way to make it work?’ And generally she’ll go, ‘All right, give me a day,’ and come back with three different ideas,” he said. “She’s so staggeringly talented. She’s far more important to this process than I am.”
Whether “Splatter II” becomes an annual production like the original depends on audience response, McDaniel said.
“I’m trying to not make any assumptions. I’ve been trying to focus just on this year and getting it right, then we can think about the future after that,” he said.
But just in case, McDaniel teased, “The door is left open for a ‘Splatter III.’”
Patty Wetli is a local freelance writer.