TITLE: Theatre of Blood
YEAR RELEASED: 1973
DIRECTOR: Douglas Hickox
CAST: Vincent Price, Diana Rigg, Harry Andrews, Michael Hordern, Ian Hendry, Coral Browne, Diana Dors, Dennis Price, Robert Morley, Arthur Lowe
REVIEWED BY SIR BLIMELY WINDY
‘Theatre of Blood’ was made in 1973, and starred Vincent Price, Diana Rigg, Francis Matthews, Ian Hendry, Robert Morley, Arthur Lowe and Dennis Price amongst others. It is, in my humble opinion, a gloriously camp and funny horror film about a Shakespearean actor who enacts a bloody and ruthless revenge on the critics who have lambasted his performances over the years.
The actor Edward Lionheart (Vincent Price), decides to murder each of the critics who gave him such a horrible life in the manner of a Shakespeare play. I will not give the whole series of murders, but there are one or two that stand out as gloriously ghoulish. There is a crowd stabbing from ‘Julius Caesar’, a woman fried in a hairdressers a la Joan of Arc in ‘Henry IV’, Arthur Lowe’s character is beheaded in his sleep and his head is put out for the milkman in a manner which apparently is similar to ‘Cymbeline’, and the most gloriously funny murder is that of poor old Robert Morley, a camp critic who has 2 pink poodles – he is force-fed his pets (children substitutes) along the lines of the play ‘Titus Andronicus’ until he dies.
Vincent Price hams it up gloriously, and is ably assisted by Diana Rigg as his daughter. She has never looked more beautiful. The scenes as a camp hairdresser and his assistant (although the PC brigade would jump up and down about it nowadays, but remember this was 1973, a masseur, and as a chef and assistant are wonderfully funny. And that is where I think the film falls down somewhat, but that is something that Price did so well. In films like the ‘Dr Phibes’ series, and even in ‘Witchfinder General’ there was always something funnily grotesque about his characters. You just knew that he would get his comeuppance in the end.
In the manner of 1970s horror films, come home from the pub on a Friday night, open your pack of chips, put the film on and enjoy!
SIR BLIMELY WINDY is a 43-year-old school teacher from the West Midlands. While not a fan of the über-realistic modern horror film, he does have a soft spot for horror films from the 1960s and early 1970s. On Twitter he is @SirBlimelyWindy