Theatre of Blood

 (544)7.21 h 44 min1973R
Vincent Price is a crazed Shakespearean actor who adds murder to his repertoire when he takes gruesome revenge on the critics who slighted him.
Douglas Hickox
Vincent PriceDiana RiggIan Hendry
English [CC]
Audio languages
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4.5 out of 5 stars

544 global ratings

  1. 74% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 16% of reviews have 4 stars
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Chip KaufmannReviewed in the United States on September 19, 2019
5.0 out of 5 starsThe End Of An Era And A Fitting Homage.
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It is ironic and perhaps appropriate that THEATER OF BLOOD was released the same year as THE EXORCIST for it is the latter that would forever do away with the old school type of horror film that Vincent Price specialized in and begat the mainstreaming of the gross out horror film that is still is with us today. While the murders in THEATER OF BLOOD are gory, they are not realistic and are not meant to be. They are deliberately in the style of Grand Guignol which is part of the tradition that this movie pays homage to.

It is no accident that the film opens with Shakespearean scenes from the silent era and their melodramatic performances. Some of those scenes can be found on a marvelous DVD called SILENT SHAKESPEARE while the OTHELLO clip features the great German actor Emil Jannings and is from his 1922 film version of the play. Vincent Price's Edward Lionheart is clearly along the lines of Tod Slaughter and Donald Wolfit and the fact that an actor of that style would still be around in 1970 adds to the unreality of it all.

As has been mentioned by others, the film is really an opportunity for Price to indulge in, make fun of, and pay tribute to the type of performances he gave in the 1960s especially in the AIP/Roger Corman Poe films. It also takes swipes at contemporary performers (the actor who gets the award instead of Lionheart is named William Woodstock), critics in general (one is named Hector Snipe, another who is a notorious ladies man is Trevor Dickman), and Shakespeare himself (the rewriting of the ending of THE MERCHANT OF VENICE).

Adding to the fun are some of Britain's greatest stage performers such as Michael Hordern, Harry Andrews, and Arthur Lowe along with movie and TV stars like Robert Morley, Jack Hawkins and Ian Hendry. Then there is Diana Rigg, fresh from THE AVENGERS and looking to return to the stage. She has said that this was one of the very few films that she enjoyed making and thought highly of. Throw in Diana Dors (the British Shelley Winters), Milo O'Shea (Duran Duran in BARBARELLA), and Coral Browne (THE RULING CLASS) who would ultimately become the third Mrs Vincent Price, and you have a once in a lifetime cast of British talent.

Director Douglas Hickox uses all London locations (there are no studio sets) giving us a time capsule of 1970s London much of which no longer exists. The photography is straight forward and the musical soundtrack adds to the film's enjoyment. In fact the Twilight Time Blu-Ray I'm reviewing gives you the option of hearing just the soundtrack and not the dialogue which with the subtitles turns it into a silent film experience. The Shakespearean murders are clever and occasionally in bad taste but that's what makes THEATER OF BLOOD so worthwhile for fans of Price and of theatrical productions. If you enjoy that type of entertainment than it doesn't get better than this.
8 people found this helpful
NotvinnikReviewed in the United States on September 30, 2016
4.0 out of 5 starsThe film's the thing...
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Vincent Price's movies are almost always fun, but it's easy to miss that he was actually a first rate actor behind the often campy material. His performance here is masterful, playing an actor who always overacts, but without overacting himself. His character, an old "matinee idol" who thinks of himself as the world's greatest actor, is the epitome of any man who has devoted his life to a craft, to receive only scorn in the end. In the meantime, the younger generation gets the honors which he thinks of as his.

He murders his way, one by one, through the critics circle which he blames for his humiliation, each crime based on incidents in Shakespeare's plays. The fate of the queen and her children from Titus Andronicus takes a particularly bizarre form, with the "queen" and children not what one would expect. He is assisted by a band of derelicts and a mustached assistant whose identity is not a mystery for very long.

The supporting performances are all what they need to be, but nobody stands out very much, with the possible exception of Ian Hendry as the last critic left. Diana Rigg is good in a not very large role as the actor's daughter, as is Milo O'Shea as the police inspector in charge of the investigation. A group of homeless "meths drinkers" are both assistants and an audience for the theatrical murders, and add to the atmosphere of the murder scenes.

All in all, this not so much late night horror movie fare as it is an intelligent black comedy. I first watched this, on television, as a teenager and realized none of this. Seeing it now, it's possible to appreciate the things that I missed the first time around.
7 people found this helpful
Lee In MotionReviewed in the United States on October 6, 2018
5.0 out of 5 stars~ Vincent brings Shakespeare to "life" in this 1973 horror production ~
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Vincent Price, in one of his last horror movies of his beautiful career, plays a disgusted theatrical actor that is denied the prestigious annual "Actors Award" by a bunch of critics. In what seems to be a reimagined storyline taken from his former "Dr. Phibes" movies, Price takes pleasure in punishing his former critics in various forms of murder. William Shakespeare would play a big role in his murderous ways as he repeats the death scenes in the plays.

Price's daughter in the movie, played by actress Diana Rigg, vows to help her father take revenge on those that brought humiliation to him and his career. Wearing a clever disguise that fooled most in the movie, you can't but help notice the disguise just looks "off" throughout the movie whenever you see "her" character.

The acting was really good and Price was in his top form here. He did consider this to be one of his favorites of his career, but said he didn't like the gore. One could understand that by looking at all his former classic horror movies. No blood or gore at all. It began in 69 and into the 70s. I'm a longtime fan of Vincent Price and I have movies of him from the '40s. Two of his best are "LAURA" with Gene Tierney and "DRAGONWYCK" also starring the lovely Gene Tierney.

This edition looks really good throughout. I played this back on the Sony Ultra 4K player and Vizio 55" Ultra 4K TV. Picture and audio are superb for a movie of 45 years old as of this review. Find a good price if you get this edition because Twilight Time said only 3,ooo copies would be made. The packaging and graphics are beautiful and there is also a booklet insert on the movie. I only wished there was a nicely done "featurette" of some kind on this movie.
Several Actors/actresses and the people behind making this are still alive. MADELINE SMITH being one of them.

We only get the Theatrical Trailer here. By the way, the lovely actress that plays a very nice looking "Secretary" is none other than MADELINE SMITH who played opposite INGRID PITT in the Sexy Vampire thriller "The Vampire Lover's".

If you are a Vincent Price fan, I think you will like this one eventhough the premesis of the movie looks like a rehash of the Dr. Phibes movies from a few years earlier. Just tweaked to be critics instead of doctors.
3 people found this helpful
john milliganReviewed in the United States on October 29, 2016
5.0 out of 5 starsGET THIS MOVIE
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This was the first Movie I saw,I was eight years old.The Movie filled me up with its terrible gore and Vincent Price's wonderous ghastly humor and his very being .That said,Vincent Price has now been a part of my life since I was eight years old,and now I am Fifty One .I have this Movie on VHS and DVD,but I have been waiting on the Blu-Ray ever since England had it,I really do not know why it was so long but it finally was here and it is supposed to be 3000 copies,so I had to get one before they were gone.I watched the Movie last night 10-28-2016 it was Beautiful the colors and the dialogue were phenomenal,the Music which I think is a great score was amazing.So I would say get this movie if you are a Vincent Price fan or if you are a big horror buff.
7 people found this helpful
Brian GReviewed in the United States on October 23, 2015
4.0 out of 5 starsIt was very enjoyable to see Vincent Price doing Shakespeare and I really love those old British horror movies
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If anyone but Vincent Price had played the main character, I would have given the movie 3 stars instead of 4. It was very enjoyable to see Vincent Price doing Shakespeare and I really love those old British horror movies. My only real issue with the movie was the sound quality wasn't very good. I had a difficult time understanding everything that was being said. The volume wasn't constant and seem to fluctuate. Definitely worth the time spent watching for those who love classic horror movies- especially those with Mr. Price.
One person found this helpful
zepolReviewed in the United States on February 26, 2018
3.0 out of 5 starsok looking blu-ray
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I had this on dvd and thought it might be great to get on blu-ray. The picture is sharper on blu-ray but lacked the colors coming out like most blu-rays do. If you own it on dvd no need to repurchase. Certainly not worth the steep price you see it listed. Be happy with the cheaper dvd of this movie.
One person found this helpful
David LoehmannReviewed in the United States on March 29, 2015
5.0 out of 5 starsA Vincent Price Masterpiece
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Absolutely brilliant, a joy to watch. I saw this movie for the first time during it's initial theatrical release. It still holds up even after 42 years. If you are a fan of Vincent Price and Dame Diana Rigg as I am, you will love this movie. Vincent as 'Butch' the hairdresser, is one of the finest performances Mr. Price has ever done. It is wonderful to see this iconic actor of the macabre deliver a brilliant comedic performance. But that is not the only time during the film Mr. Price delivers. Everyone involved was wonderful. Do rent or buy this movie. Definitely an underrated classic.
One person found this helpful
cookieman108Reviewed in the United States on October 1, 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars"Now is the winter of our discontent..."
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Who knew Shakespeare could be so much fun? More often than not, his plays seemed to put me to sleep in high school literature class. Funny how a movie like this can make you see things in a different light, even make you appreciate his work. I guess it's all in the presentation.

In Theater of Blood, Vincent Price plays Edward Lionheart, a Shakespearian actor who takes revenge on his critics through some particularly devious means after suffering many a bad review. What I really enjoyed, besides Price's outstanding performance, was how he incorporated the murders to fit in with Shakespearian plays. It was a really nice touch that elevated this movie from your typical horror movie to a masterpiece of the genre.

Price plays it perfectly, as an over the top actor, quoting lines from various plays as the curtain falls on each of his victims. I loved how he had that big book containing all his reviews, to which he would refer before dispatching some of his intended targets. Also, I thought Diana Rigg was wonderful as Price's daughter, Edwina. Not only is she very easy on the eyes, but also she complimented Price's performance nicely. If you've seen the earlier Price movie, The Abominable Dr. Phibes, you will certainly recognize a number of similarities in the plot of both movies. Both involve the main character supposedly coming back from the dead to exact revenge. In 'Phibes', his vengeance is focused on the doctors and nurses Price feels are responsible for his wife's death, while here his wrath is aimed at those responsible for the death of his career. Also, both movies involve meticulous planning of the murders to fit into a specific, overall theme, including rather gruesome and horrifying means of demise for the intended victims.

It's all played tongue in cheek, and works so well. This is one of my favorite Price films, and really excellent example of him at his best. If for nothing else, this movie is worth watching to see Price in the guise of a hairdresser, in setting up a death sequence with a female victim. Seeing him in those groovy clothes, glasses stolen from Elton John, and ridiculously oversized afro is truly 'priceless'.

2 people found this helpful
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