Theatre of Blood (1973)

“They’re not going to start killing critics for giving bad notices, are they?”

Synopsis:
With assistance from his loyal daughter (Diana Rigg), a vengeful actor (Vincent Price) systematically murders each of his critics while a hapless detective (Milo O’Shea) attempts to stay ahead of each Shakespearean-inspired crime.

Genres:

Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary writes that “in what must have been his dream role, Vincent Price hit his horror-movie peak as Edward Lionheart, a Shakespearean actor who is as hammy as Price himself”. He argues that while “some of the death scenes are a bit too gory” (I disagree; Shakespeare wrote some undeniably gory sequences!), “this is a suspenseful, witty, flamboyantly stylish film” with an “excellent all-star cast” — and “viewers should have as much fun as Price seems to be having”. Peary points out that the “writing by Anthony Greville-Bell and direction by Douglas Hickox” (who helmed Entertaining Mr. Sloane a few years earlier) “are imaginative”, and notes that “Diana Rigg makes one of her rare screen appearances as Price’s daughter, who isn’t as sweet as she appears to be.” There are many layers of satisfaction in this darkly comedic thriller: watching Price wreak skillful revenge on all who refused to name him best stage actor of the year; waiting to see how the next murder will faithfully (albeit with a twist) enact a Shakespearean scene; witnessing both Price and Riggs’ delightful array of disguises and costumes (none of which the snobbish critics ever cotton onto). This companion piece to The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971) is well worth a visit, and likely return viewings as well.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Vincent Price in numerous “roles”


  • Diana Rigg as Edwina
  • Many effectively gruesome sequences

  • Atmospheric sets and cinematography

Must See?
Yes, as a most enjoyable suspense film, and for Price’s stand-out performance(s).

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3 Responses to “Theatre of Blood (1973)”

  1. One of Price’s best and he’s having a blast. Lots of great character actors in support and it’s surprisingly grisly. However, it’s most likely of must see importance to horror or Price buffs. A great little sleeper.

  2. However, it’s most likely only of must see importance to horror or Price buffs.

  3. A must for all film fanatics: for the story, the direction, Vincent’s performance, and all of the performances in general – and it holds up well on repeat viewings. As per my post (11/1/16) in ‘Revival House of Camp & Cult’ (fb):

    “One is irresistibly reminded of a ham sandwich.”

    ‘Theatre of Blood’: Following Martin’s lead, I’m taking in another of our Vincent’s more sadistic performances. I’d forgotten just how gory this thing is – but it’s not just that…it’s the way Vincent is savoring his extended revenge on each of the critics who panned his character’s various interpretations of Shakespearean roles. What’s most interesting about this movie is that it is such a ludicrous storyline – though the script is well-written – yet it has a cast to (well…) die for and it’s very smartly directed. I especially like Diana Rigg as Vincent’s daughter. But everybody gets totally behind the Grand Guignol of it all. Vincent actually plays quite a few roles within his character…one of the more intriguing ones being ‘Butch’, the hairdresser.

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