THEATER If you love comedy, horror movies, and the singular sensation of being doused with oddly fruity stage blood, you're probably already a Primitive Screwheads fan. If you're not, it’s time to familiarize yourself with the madcap masters of mayhem behind such spectacles as Re-Animator of the Dead: The Tale of Herbert West and the inimitable Evil Dead: Live. Named for a favorite Army of Darkness quote, the young company was founded by a group of San Francisco State theater students in 2003; now something of a splat-stick phenomenon, they've also mounted two hugely successful shows as part of the Another Hole in the Head film festival.
A few weeks back, a rowdy HoleHead crowd greeted their latest, The Chainsaw Massacres — a riff on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (with The Devil's Rejects, Saturday Night Fever, and other pop culture insanity tossed in) that's now returning to CELLspace. Codirectors Sean Madeira and Robert Selander — the troupe's standout ham, who played Evil Dead's Ash and has a juicy role in Chainsaw — are in the process of attaining nonprofit status for the Screwheads. It's an exciting development for a group that basically runs on a self-fueled (and self-funded) mix of ingenuity, enthusiasm, and a staggering ability to multitask.
"Sean is our main writer, and I'm our main blood technician and fight choreographer, but we split directing evenly," Selander explains. Madeira, who dreamed up the Evil Dead play while at a comics convention, drew on his screenwriting background for the company's first production, filling a previously undiscovered niche in the San Francisco theater scene in the process.
"Everyone's seen Shakespeare," Madeira says. "I figured I'll just give them something different, something wild." The Sam Raimi cult classic was chosen because of its single location and handful of characters — and, of course, its gore-tastic possibilities, though the company's audience-splattering ways (now a trademark) were stumbled upon with utter spontaneity.
"I knew we were gonna have a lot of blood, because it was Evil Dead," Madeira recalls. "But then once it started accidentally hitting the audience, they went crazy."
"By the end of the first run, Sean was, like, 'Well, they liked it! We should just spray it at the audience,’>