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iW’s Project of the Day: Detroit’s Illegal Halloween Masquerade, Theater Bizarre

iW's Project of the Day: Detroit's Illegal Halloween Masquerade, Theater Bizarre

Here’s your daily dose of an indie film in progress; at the end of the week, you’ll have the chance to vote for your favorite.

In the meantime: Is this a movie you’d want to see? Tell us in the comments.

Theater Bizarre Documentary (working title)

Tweetable Logline:
The untold story of Theatre Bizarre – Detroit’s legendary illegal Halloween masquerade. Bullets, burlesque, freaks & fire – BANNED!

Elevator Pitch:
Theatre Bizarre is an underground, illegal, fire-spewing, burlesque-filled, rock and roll masquerade – at least it was until the city of Detroit ended its decade-long run by shutting it down in 2010. Up until that time an army of volunteers had toiled year-round (and often around the clock) to create an otherworldly setting for a single night each year that has inspired a rabid following of attendees and wannabe-attendees. The documentary will utilize hundreds of hours of behind-the-scenes and performance video from the show’s history to tell the story of this outlaw production and its leader, (Kresge Fellow) John Dunivant.

Production team:
Co-Directors: Gary Bredow, Per Franchell
Art Director: John Dunivant

About the Project:
Theatre Bizarre has never been properly captured, despite attempts by media outlets like The Detroit News and the New York Times. It’s like lightning in a bottle – loud and flashy with a whiff of danger, but even that description fails to recognize the humanity of it all. This is an outlaw theatrical production staged in a crumbling neighborhood by unpaid laborers who risk life and limb to create genuine magic. It is unique in the world and is currently threatened by a city government with bigger things on its plate and no idea how to handle this dark diamond.

Current Status:
The film is currently in production, fundraising.

For more information and to support this project:
Film Website
IndieGoGo Page

If you have an in-the-works project and you’d like to be profiled in an upcoming iW Project of the Day column, submit yourself by filling out this form!

This Article is related to: Filmmaker Toolkit and tagged , , ,



Theater Bizzare opened up a world of possibility to me when I encountered it in 2006. The community who enabled it to occur is a rock in the Detroit arts scene, and their roots run deep. Bring this to Sundance!


John Dunivant is a most talented artist having won a Kresge award this year. Theatre Bizarre is exactly that. A wonderful and inspired magic zombie crazed mecca of fire breathers, burlesque performers, bands and other Zombo surprises. This documentary is not to be missed. There is no other show like Theatre Bizarre anywhere. It combines the circus, horror and theater all together and produces the best show on earth ! This film rocks !

Trish Woolbright

One of the most amazing places and yes it too changed my life! I LOVE Theater Bizzare! And I will hold a showing of this movie in TN and show lots of friends. MAKE THIS MOVIE!


Theatre Bizarre changed my life….


As a TB veteran I was heartbroken to see it leave the ‘hood. I’m very excited to see what happens at the Masonic. All hail Zombo and all things TB.

Roxi D'Lite

Theatre Bizarre is the most magical place on earth. The people involved are the most creative, hardworking lovely people I’ve ever met. It’s an honor to be part of such a unique family of freaks. I’m so excited to see this film, I know these guys have been working hard on it for many years and it’s going to be spectacular.

Take me Zombo, I’m yours.

MaryKaye Shackelford

Theater Bizarre is a very exciting grassroots Halloween experience and they deserve the recognition. It is unique with tons of fascinating, scary fun. This is the film for me!!!


I would love to see a film like this, as a die hard All Hallows Eve fan! Bring on the Zombies!

Kimberly Negus

Absolutely, can’t wait to see it. Love Theatre Bizarre, and they are due some recognition.

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