Theatre of Blood is one of the all-time classic Vincent Price movies, in my book. That, and the two Dr Phibes films (also out next month from Arrow) freaked me out as a child big-time.
As I found out during my brief time doing stand-up comedy, critics are harsh beasts. One young lad even wrote on a website – and I knew who it was as I’d seen them at the gig itself, “Dom Robinson is the opposite of funny”. Fortunately, for him, while I thought he was a prat of the first order, I had no desire to kill him.
Unfortunately, for the critics who lay into Edward Kendal Sheridan Lionheart, played with perfection by Vincent Price, he DOES want to kill them, and he’ll do it in the best way possible – one that cleverly reflects a death from a number of Shakespeare plays.
In fact, one of the characters who scared me the most in this is the guy with the glasses during my favourite dish (two words: “Poodle pie”). I think it’s the fact that you can’t see deep into his eyes, so he comes across as more weird than most. Or maybe it’s ELO’s Jeff Lynne after a heavy night?
In addition, Arthur Lowe is one of the critics who also loses his head, literally, but how can this great actor meet a violent and bloody death in a horror film when, after making my parents laugh in Dad’s Army, he also made my childhood by brilliantly and sarcastically voicing the Mr Men cartoons!
There’s also an awesome moment when Lionheart’s daughter, Edwina (Diana Rigg looking stunning), meets critic Peregrine Devlin (Ian Hendry) for the first time, resulting in an exchange which she partly delivers direct to the camera, her piercing eyes making it feel like she’s addressing the audience as part of a play; quite apt when those are what the plot centres around.
And of course, one of the critics he bumps off is Coral Browne, as Chloe Moon, who went on to be the real life ‘Mrs Price’ for the best part of 20 years.
It’s also amusing when Larding, prior to his death, goes to a wine-tasting evening and is invited by ‘Jeff Lynne’ to try the white, but the subtitles say “sip of wine”. Well, what else would he be drinking on a wine-tasting evening – Jagerbombs?!
And while Lionheart needs henchmen to help him out, we know he’s barmy from the off, as he hires an unpaid bunch of homeless meths drinkers to do his bidding. Bit of a schoolboy error, that one(!)
Theatre of Blood is also a great example of how you can pack the murders into a horror film without making it drag on forever like a modern film would, stretching it out to 142 minutes just for the sake of it.
Go to page 2 for the presentation and the extras.
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.