Director: Douglas Hickox
Starring: Vincent Price, Diana Rigg, Ian Hendry, Harry Andrews, Coral Browne
At your own risk
Edward Lionheart is a frustrated stage performer, who has grown tired of the criticism he has been receiving by the snobbish critics during the years. When he feels overlooked by the critic’s annual acting award, he sets out a big plan to get revenge on them, in the most theatrical way possible.
This premise must be the dream of every actor, director or artists in other creative fields. I’m sure everyone who gets criticized for their work wouldn’t mind going a few rounds with the faceless critics who tear their work and effort a part, even ridiculing their talents if they find it suitable. Even though I write reviews for this website, I hardly consider myself a critic and even if I was I would still want to keep things respectable towards the filmmakers since I have no doubt in my mind that they are trying their best to do what they want to do with their lives. More power to anyone who has ever made a film, regardless if it is a film I hate or love.
To get back to this film, Theatre of Blood is a film made to show off the talents of our genre legend Vincent Price. He gets to do different performances from Shakespeare plays as Lionheart and he gives magnificent performances in every scene he is in. If you are a fan of Vincent Price then you should, and probably already have, see this film. There are few actors that are as much fun to watch as Price and this film is definitely up there with some of his greatest work.
The rest of the film however is not great. The premise is fun, the killing scenes are fun and creative, but the pacing is a bit outdated. It feels like the film runs for 10-15 minutes longer than it should have and there are times when it becomes repetitive seeing Lionheart trap his hated critics. The comedy is very tongue-in-cheek and might put some newer viewers off, although I felt that it worked well in this film.
I do think that director Douglas Hickox could have done more for the narration of the film and also injected something more to make it a bit more entertaining. Even though, as I’ve mentioned, it has a lot of comedy elements to it, it is actually played out very straight forward and serious and that makes it a bit weird when things get absurd and over the top when it comes closer to the end.
Theatre of Blood is worth seeing for one big reason and that is the fantastic Vincent Price. His performance in this film makes it a worthy movie for a double feature with The Abominable Dr. Phibes. It is a film that starts off very good, but runs out of steam before the credits start to roll, but it is still a fun film that is worth seeing at least once.