Splatter is a staple of the Chicago Halloween season. I got the 4-11 from Annoyance’s Managing Director Charley Carroll who told me all about the fascinating, messy history of this shocker of a show.

BTD: Tell us the history of Splatter at The Annoyance

Carroll: Splatter Theater first premiered in 1987.  Mick Napier, the founder of The Annoyance, is prone to strange obsessions and in the fall of 1987 he was fixated on creating the most realistic fake blood he could muster.  Once he had perfected his special blood recipe he decided he wanted to showcase it in a show.  Together with some other comedian friends from college they created a show that parodied the cult slasher films of the 80’s; in the show, 12 cast members, wearing all white, perform on an all white stage and get hilariously butchered one by one.  By the end of the Splatter, the entire cast and stage was covered in Mick’s special blood concoction.  That first year they performed the show at the Metro in a small theater that was above their main venue; that theater is still there, but not open to the public.  They used so much blood in that first performance, that it started dripping through the floorboards onto the concert goers below.  The show was a great success and was the roots of what is now The Annoyance Theatre.  It has been going strong for the 32 years since that first performance.

BTD: What makes this year’s Splatter special?

Carroll: Over the years Splatter Theater has gone through different evolutions.  Different directors and actors have taken their own spin on the show and characters.  This year we made a real focus on bringing Splatter back to its origins.  We specifically set the show in 1987, so that the references feel even more relevant to that 80’s slasher genre.  From the minute you enter the theater, we want you to feel like it is halloween in 1987. To prepare for the show, I watched every Splatter Theater we had film.  The one that really stuck with me was our 1992 version of splatter.  That year had an All-Star cast of original Annoyance members and they all seemed really comfortable with the show and how to execute the best performance.  Mick Napier also directed that year and he was obviously having fun perfecting both the effects (with the help of Steve Cowdrey) and the comedy of the show. 

BTD: What goes into making Splatter happen?

Carroll: Every Saturday Sam Locke, our incredible Blood Master, heads to an Asian market to pick up all the special meats we need to create the goriest parts of the show.  He then arrives at the theater around 2pm and starts concocting the gallons of blood and gruesome effects for the 8pm show that night.  Sam is still using Mick’s original blood recipe, with some slight modifications he’s made over the years to perfect the look.  Sam has been doing the show for the better part of 10 years now and is by far the most important cast member of the production.  At 8pm the show goes up. At 9:15, our blood soaked cast takes a bow and the clean up process begins.  Many audience members grab a drink and enjoy watching this part of the show year after year.  In 30 minutes, we remove the gallons of blood from the white walls, mop it all off the floor, and get the stage ready for our 10pm show.  It really is a sight to behold.

I Know What You Did Last Splatter & Splatter Theater, The Annoyance Theater, 851 W. Belmont Ave,  (773) 697-9693, www.theannoyance.com. $20. Through October 26th.