Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Vincent Price in “Theatre of Blood” (1973)

Vincent Price in “Theatre of Blood” (1973)
…A partial DVD review!   And a look at a film-load of frightful fun! 

SUMMARY:  The Critics have Spoken… Their LAST WORDS! 

They’re not going to start killing people for writing BAD NOTICES, are they?”

Apparently Vincent Price is doing exactly that, in this delightfully ghoulish romp through the lives (…and deaths) of a group of theatre critics. 

Presumed dead by suicide, Edward Kendal Sheridan Lionheart (Price) was an accomplished Shakespearian stage actor, who was denied what he felt was his due by a pompous circle of critics who, at the last moment, decided to give their award to a young newcomer instead. 

With the help of his devoted daughter “Edwina” (Diana Rigg) who spends much of the film dressed as a man with red afro hair, moustache, and dark glasses (...it would seem SHE was a better actor than her father, see above!), and a group of devoted outcasts and derelicts, Lionheart systematically “offs” the reviewers one-by-one, in grizzly deaths inspired by the plays of the Immortal Bard. 
Thus, the unfortunates are stabbed by a crowd, dragged behind a charging horse, beheaded, drowned in a barrel of wine, suffer the extraction of a “pound of flesh”…  and there’s one sequence concerning British mainstay Robert Morely and a PIE, best left to the imagination. 

Oh, and there’s one death by electrified hair curlers, that in Lionheart’s mad view, is analogous to Joan of Arc being burned at the stake. 
It’s Lionheart all right! Only HE would have the temerity to rewrite Shakespeare!” 


The relationship between Lionheart and daughter Edwina is very much like that of Batman villain Ra’s Al Ghul and daughter Talia – but without the “dashing detective” to test her loyalties. 
Say, HE'S even creepier than Vincent Price!
Theatre of Blood” echoes the earlier Vincent Price murder-fest “The Abominable Dr. Phibes” (1971), where he (all together now) systematically “offs” the team of doctors and hospital staff who botched his wife’s operation, resulting in her death.  Though, in "Phibes", his inspirations are the biblical plagues, rather than Shakespeare’s plays.  But, hey… It’s Vincent Price, what would you EXPECT from him!   

The critics come off as SO pompous, arrogant, and self-important that you actually cheer each time Lionheart claims another victim!  At least *I* did!  Go, Lionheart, go! 

DVD Specifications:

Theatre of Blood” is “Side A” of a two-sided single disc also containing “Madhouse” (1974), in which Price stars with fellow horror-meister Peter Cushing.  That, in turn, is part of a greater set “Vincent Price MGM Scream Legends Collection”, featuring a total of SEVEN Price thrillers, and additional documentary material.

Theatre of Blood” is billed on the packaging as being in “widescreen”.  It is not. 

No extras are included with “Theatre of Blood” beyond its Theatrical Trailer (02:30).  It’s a lively affair, full of quick cuts of the many murders and scenes of general mayhem… but NO voice-overs or accompanying text beyond the title, Price’s star billing, and a list of supporting players – identified as “Guest Victims”. 
BLEED to me, only with thine eyes!

The trailer is SOOO not in widescreen that the names of the aforementioned “Guest Victims” are partially CUT OFF on either side of the screen image!  ..."Cut Off" before they're "Cut Down", can you imagine such a thing!

Final Thoughts:

I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, LIKED this film!  Honest and truly, I did! 
…And, if it were to turn out that, perhaps, I didn’t like it after all… I’d certainly never let that slip to Edward Kendal Sheridan Lionheart. 

I wanna keep on Blogging (...in a non-critical manner, of course) for a long time! 


Chris Barat said...


Wasn't it at about this time that Price guest-starred in that BRADY BUNCH story about the cursed tiki, or whatever it was?

"Sorry to dispatch you in such an outre manner, Madame, but... something suddenly came up!"


Scipio said...

MY GOD I love this film; Glad to know I"m not the only one.

Joe Torcivia said...


According to IMDB, they both occurred within less than a year! I kinda thought that, even without looking it up – but we strive for accuracy at TIAH Blog!


You CAN’T be the only one! The film is just TOO GOOD for that! While I enjoyed all of the ingenious murder methods of the Dr. Phibes films as well, this one was REALLY the best. Maybe because, unlike “Phibes”, I feel the victims really did deserve their fates… just for being so pompous!

And, unlike in the Phibes films, Price can actually SPEAK on his own! Essential for even a would-be thespian!