If your sense of humor is even moderately twisted, you'll savor this tasty course of well-cooked ham. Directed with delectable British wit by Douglas Hickox, the comedy is decidedly dark when Vincent Price--as effete has-b... more »een thespian Richard Lionheart--wreaks poetic justice upon the snobby critics who panned his performances and drove him to a failed attempt at suicide. Reciting his poor reviews and staging murders inspired by Shakespearean tragedies, the actor and his Dickensian coterie of accomplices (including Diane Rigg, sexy as ever) dispatch their victims with shocking ingenuity, and by the time Lionheart reenacts Titus Andronicus by gorging one dog-loving critic (the hilariously poofy Robert Morley) on toy-poodle stew, Theatre of Blood reaches giddy heights of outrageous vengeance. It's all in good fun, of course, and the film's esteemed British cast plays it to the hilt, none better than Price in one of his most entertaining roles. --Jeff Shannon« less
Helen R. from CHICAGO, IL Reviewed on 2/27/2010...
My all-time favorite Vincent Price horror movie! The whole thing is so campy and so horrific that it's as much a comedy as a horror film. And the Shakespearean exchanges between Price & Diana Rigg are extraordinary. Well worth seeing.
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Revenge is a dish best served by Vincent Price
Daniel Jolley | Shelby, North Carolina USA | 02/08/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As incredibly good as this movie is, one must give pause before attempting to review it; after all, Vincent Price plays an actor who murders the critics who panned his performances and cost him the acting award he felt he deserved. I find it something of a relief to have nothing at all negative to say about this unusual, almost brilliant movie. This is essentially a slasher film, but it differs markedly from its modern counterparts by injecting the story with intelligence, culture, and actual feeling. Vincent Price plays Edward Lionheart, a Shakespearean actor who deigns to perform no dramas not penned by the Bard. There is no better actor, he truly believes, than himself, and thus he is slowly crushed by the stream of bad reviews the local critics hurl down upon his performance in one play after another. After facing humiliation at an annual awards banquet, he takes his own life-or at least so everyone thought at the time, despite the fact that his body was never found. Two years later, a literary critic dies mysteriously on the ides of March of multiple stab wounds. Then a second critic is killed and his body dragged through the streets behind a horse. As more critics die, it begins to become clear, even to the rather ineffectual police, that the murders are all patterned on the death scenes of Shakespearean dramas. After the fourth murder, where the culprit deviates from the script of The Merchant of Venice by literally taking a pound of flesh from the victim, the de facto leader of the critics knows that Lionheart is the murderer because "only he would have the temerity to rewrite Shakespeare." The deaths here range from the somewhat comical to the ludicrously horrid to the deliciously gruesome, with a few nice touches of 1973-style blood thrown in for good measure. Each murder is of course accentuated by a vainglorious dramatic performance by Lionheart. This imbues the movie with both maudlin comedy as well as academic pretentiousness. At the very end, even more unexpected emotions bubble up in the viewer, a phenomenon manifesting itself through a combination of Price's perfectly over-the-top acting and a wonderfully evocative soundtrack. One actually gets something of a lesson in Shakespeare in this film. Lionheart doesn't base his revenge killings on Shakespeare's most famous plays-instead, he draws on several that I and probably many others are not intimately familiar with-yet the magic he breathes into each scene makes one anxious to delve into the Bard's original plays themselves. In total, the following Shakespearean plays serve as the basis of the murders: Julius Caesar, Troilus and Cressida, Cymbeline, The Merchant of Venice, Richard the Third, Romeo and Juliet, Othello, Henry the Sixth, part 1, Titus Andronicus, and King Lear. A little Hamlet is also thrown in for good measure. I must say that the cast is a great complement to the storyline, although even the lovely Diana Rigg of Avengers fame pales in the shadow of Price's mesmerizing aura as he brings to life a character seemingly written especially for him. Who else could have played such a convincing Shakespearean actor and ingeniously mad killer simultaneously? I must admit it is somewhat strange to watch Rigg play the role of Lionheart's fiercely loyal daughter, though, and I daresay that many Rigg devotees such as myself may not even recognize her when she first appears. Theater of Blood is truly one of Vincent Price's most memorable performances. His ability to morph into and truly become different Shakespearean characters is superb, and the range of emotions he is able to express is pretty powerful, especially in the closing moments of the film. A couple of the killings are somewhat farcical, but most of them are rather ingenious and fascinating. Just wait until you see Price playing the role of a bushy-headed hairdresser. The best killing, without a doubt, involves a surgical gown, a scalpel, and a handsaw-I'll let you figure out what Lionheart does with these items. The idea for this movie may not be wholly original, but Theater of Blood works magnificently, and the combined talents of Price and Rigg make this a classic that really should find a home in the collection of all horror movie buffs."
Price has a ball
Deborah MacGillivray | US & UK | 10/08/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Price decided to ham it up for the Abominable Dr. Phibes and Dr. Phibes Rides again. Riding on a tide, he took up this high camp film, and some of England's biggest name actors came out to play his victims. In Phibes style, you have a series of set victims - in this case, Stage critics - and the much scorned Shakespearian Actor Edward Lionheart extracting his revenge by killing his victims through acting out a scene from Shakespeare's plays. Deliciously witty Diana Rigg is there to support Price as his doting, darling daughter Edwina, who mourns her father's recent death, and hisses at the critics who refused to honor his talent while he was alive.
Price's all-star victims include his real-life wife, Coral Browne, Harry Andrews, Ian Hendry, Jack Hawkins, Robert Morley (especially funny twist on the tale!), Denis Price and Diana Dors and more. Hot on the trail of the killer, with Hendry in tow, are Inspector Boot (Milo O'Shea) and Sergeant Dogge (Eric Sykes), but Price and his "helper" are one step ahead.
It's Price at his wickedly delightful best. And great to see the funny takes of the Bards tales being used as a murder medium. Douglas Hickox (Zulu Dawn, Sitting Target), ably orchestrated the marvelously talent crew of actors through this black humor marathon. "
Price's Personal Favourite of All His Films...
Deborah MacGillivray | 07/13/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In an interview with NPR's Terry Gross, late great Vincent Price's daughter was asked which of her father's films was his favourite. She said he loved Theatre of Blood because he got to do Shakespeare.1973's Theatre Of Blood followed the two Dr. Phibes films which were marvelously devilish black comedies. In Theatre Of Blood, Price tops his Phibes performances. Price plays Edward Lionheart, a Shakespearan actor loved by his fans but mercilessly reviled by a group of snobby theatre critics who berate his performances in print and later humiliate him at an awards ceremony. Lionheart sets out to get revenge on the nine critics by use of murder plots in Shakespeare's plays. The makeup and costumes are superb as well as the supporting cast -- particularly the lovely Diana Rigg, Milo O'Shea, and Robert Morley. Price dons dozens of disguises as he methodically carrys out his mission. He's hysterically funny as "Butch", a hairdresser for one of the female critics. This film should be considered among his essential works."
An Actors Delight!
Deborah MacGillivray | 10/05/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Any actor who ever suffered a barrage of bad reviews will want to rush out and add this gem to his/her video collection. What a brilliant concept for a Vincent Price movie: A Shakespearean actor perpetually panned by the critics returns to murder them one-by-one according to the death scene from whichever Shakespeare play they gave him the bad notice for. Absolutely brilliant! Don't overlook the subleties such as each critic's name matching up with his demeanor or the droll throwaway lines ("Why don't you let me try something campy with your hair, like flame with ash highlights") and Lionheart's (Price) passionate "What know you of the toil and sweat of a theatrical production? . . ." speech to Ian Hendry in the sword fighting scene - excellent! A nod to Robert Morley's performance, but above all, who else except Vincent Price could re-write The Merchant of Venice to obtain the pound of flesh? It's gory but great, great fun!"
Vincent Price almost at his best.
chess librarian | USA | 10/30/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Among the best efforts of this badly underated actor. Price had a glorious time with this movie. Like in his Phibes movies his audience is kept cheering for him all the way. The bad guys (critics) are gruesomely slain one by one in highly creative ways. If you are a Shakspeare fan as am I, you should enjoy the carnage even more. My personal favorite scene is the woman getting electrocuted while getting her hair done. Unfortunately the movie is flawed by an ending much inferior to the Phibes movies. Highly recommended."