Sardonic Tales: “Guignol”

A few years ago, I did a thing where I picked a movie that would make a good double-feature with one of the stories in my then-newest collection, Painted Monsters. This year, for the Countdown to Halloween, I thought it might be fun to do the same thing, but with my now-newest collection, Guignol & Other Sardonic Tales.

This is probably the easiest one in the book. While plenty of other stories in Guignol & Other Sardonic Tales owe moments or aesthetics to specific films, few of them have their roots sunk as deeply into one particular moment in one particular movie as the title story, “Guignol.”

The scene in question is one in the Stuart Gordon flick, Dolls, which also happens to be a favorite of mine. I love movies about creepy dolls, construct lifeforms, killer automata, you name it. And, of course, for anyone with those predilections, the various Full Moon flicks–the Puppetmaster series most notably, but there are plenty of others–are going to be significant.

Dolls feels of a piece with those, but also connected to Gordon’s early Lovecraft films, which were shot around the same time. And it also feels like a throwback to the old dark house films of the ’20s and ’30s. So it is my jam, is what I’m saying.

There’s lots of good stuff in Dolls, but the one scene in particular that formed the germ of “Guignol” is the fate of one of the film’s very British punk rocker girls, who is transformed into a doll via a particularly grisly process that has always stuck with me.

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