Thursday, 17 May 2012

Horror Review: Theatre Of Blood (1973)

Edward Lionheart, an actor who is overlooked for a critics' acting award, despite producing a season of Shakespeare plays. After an attempted suicidal dive into the Thames results in Lionheart being rescued by tramps. Lionheart then (presumed dead) exacts his grizzly, and quite amusing revenge on the critics who denied him his finest hour.

By 1973 Vincent Price was 62 years old and was considered to be an actor from a generation of Horror that was old, camp and forgotten. With this film he showed them how wrong they were!

Price plays a Shakespearean actor called Edward Kendal Sheridan Lionheart, an actor who is hated by critics. Enraged by their reviews of his work he commits suicide. But, unknown to everybody else, he survives and decides to kill off his critics one by one using methods described in Shakespeare's plays.

If that doesn't grab you then I don't know what will, It certainly grabbed me and I never looked back, it has since become one of my favourite Price films, and he did a-lot of great films. 

The dialogue in this film is fantastic, it's a role Price was perfect for, we see him doing some jaw dropping scenes, even if you're not a fan of Shakespeare it's hard not to be amazed by Price's talent as he acts out Shakespearean dialogue. He hypnotises you, that's true talent.

The chemistry between the cast members is fantastic and you get a sense of true enjoyment from them all, which just makes the film even more entertaining as a viewer. It's not only full of gore and great dialogue, it's also got some great humour, what other film do you see with Vincent Price playing a 'cool cat' sporting an afro wig?!

The film is quite low key, even amongst Price fans, which is a hard concept to grasp. I fully recommend this film to anyone who enjoys an entertaining Horror flick full of drama, gore and humour.

To see the trailer for "Theatre Of Blood" click here

Miscellaneous facts about the film:

  • Lionheart's theatre hideout was the Putney Hippodrome, built in 1906. It had been boarded up for fourteen years when it was chosen as a location for this film. 
  • Considered by its star Vincent Price to be his personal favourite of all his films. 
  • Vincent Price fell in love with and married actress Coral Browne following production,which lasted from July 10-August 17, 1972. The film was released after Vincent Price's March 18, 1973 appearance as the subject of "This is Your Life", his last public appearance with second wife Mary, who knew nothing yet about his affair with Coral, set up by Diana Rigg, who noticed the chemistry between the two. 
  • Robert Fuest was asked to direct. 
  • Diana Rigg regards this as her best film. 
  • This film was shot entirely on locations in and around London. No scenes were shot in a studio. 
  • The final theatrical film of both Robert Coote and Jack Hawkins. 
  • Lionheart's tomb is an actual monument in Kensal Green Cemetery, London. It belongs to the Sievier family, and shows the sculpted figures of a seated man, one hand placed on the head a woman kneeling in adoration, while the other holds the Bible, its pages opened to a passage in the Book of Luke. This monument was altered for the film by plaster masks of Price and Rigg substituting for the statue's real ones, the Bible became a volume of Shakespeare and there is a suitable engraving at the front with Lionheart's name and dates.
  • The picture of the handsome Elizabethan young man in black cape and white tights shown during the opening credits, and later used as the model for the film's Critic's Circle Award is a painting entitled Young Man Among Roses by Nicholas Hilliard (1547-1619), and is in the collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. 
  • When the movie was adapted for the London stage in 2005, Diana Rigg's role was filled by her real-life daughter, Rachael Stirling. 
  • The full name of Vincent Price's character, according to his memorial, is Edward Kendal Sheridan Lionheart. "Sheridan" is a reference to the eighteenth-century playwright and manager Richard B. Sheridan, or his actor-manager father, Thomas Sheridan. 
  • The name of Diana Rigg's character is derived from that of Edwina Booth, daughter of actor Edwin Booth (1833-1893), considered by many to be the greatest Shakespearean actor of his day - and the brother of John Wilkes Booth, the most infamous actor of his day. 
  • According to Price biographer Iaian McAsh, six gallons of Kensington Blood (stage blood) was used during production. 


  1. My favourite Vincent Price film. It is, simply, glorious. Wonderful review and analysis. A masterpiece!

  2. Glad you liked the review, like I said it's up there for me in my favourite Price films