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Theatre Of Blood

    Ian Jane

  • Theatre Of Blood

    Released by: Arrow Video
    Released on: May 19th, 2014.
    Director: Douglas Hickox
    Cast: Vincent Price, Diana Rigg
    Year: 1973

    The Movie:

    Theatre Of Blood tells the tale of Edward Lionheart (Vincent Price), an aging Shakespearian actor who refuses to branch out and perform anything that was not penned by The Bard. When award season rolls around and Lionheart is denied the Best Actor Award that he was sure he deserved, he dives into the Thames to end it all but is rescued by some homeless types.

    Now that everyone believes him to be dead, Lionheart figures out which critics were responsible for this and sets out to get fatal revenge. There's more to this than just an older, unstable actor knocking off those who have said unkind things about him - Lionheart puts enough care and planning into his murders that he's able to base each one off of a scene inspired by one of Shakespeare's own plays! He's also not going to be going it alone, as he's got his daughter, Edwina (Diana Rigg) helping him out.

    Well regarded amongst Price fans and beloved by the late actor himself, Theatre Of Blood really offers the actor one of those rare 'perfect' roles. No one else could have brought the same sense of both mayhem and tragedy to this part the way that Price did and he really gives it his all here. While he was an actor who would typically do fine work even when dealing with lesser scripts and hack directors, he really and truly shines here and he was obviously quite aware of the ways in which his character could easily draw parallels to his own real world career. He also shows a great knack with the blackly comedic aspects of the script. Price definitely did have a good sense of humor (Hilarious House Of Frightenstein fans know this only too well!) and you just know by watching this film that he absolutely got what director Douglas Hickox and screenwriter Anthony Greville-Bell were going for here.

    Of course, having Diana Rigg onboard doesn't hurt either and while she doesn't quite play the sexpot you might expect if you're only familiar with her from The Avengers (she's actually dressed as a man for much of the film) she delivers fine work and is quite fun to watch. Likewise, a supporting effort from Ian Hendry is equally enjoyable.

    As to those murder set pieces based on Shakespeare's work? They're pretty fantastic. Yes, there is a sense of black humor behind each and every one but they're quite gory (as was much of the writing that inspired them in the first place) and do not want for impact. So much of it all plays off of the tragic side of Shakespeare's output but the twists that the movie employs to make them unique are both clever and amusing. Price again really just goes for it in these moments and delivers remarkable work. It's all very over the top, but deliciously so and anyone who enjoys Price's work should absolutely have a good time with this twisted and legitimately bizarre entry in his filmography.


    Theatre Of Blood looks excellent on Blu-ray from Arrow in AVC encoded 1080p high definition framed properly at 1.66.1 widescreen. Texture and color are both vastly improved over the previous DVD release and the nicely encoded disc is free of compression artifacts, edge enhancement and noise reduction. Skin tones look nice and warm without ever getting too pink and color reproduction is pretty much excellent across the board. Detail is strong throughout the picture and the lovely HD transfer really shows off the slick cinematography used in the movie very nicely.

    The only audio option for the feature is an LPCM 2.0 track in English with optional subtitles provided, also in English. This isn't a particularly fancy track but it sounds good, balancing the score and the dialogue properly and offering up the sound effects used in the picture with solid punch. There are no problems with any hiss or distortion, this is a fine mix.

    The extra begin with a really fun audio commentary with The League of Gentlemen (Jeremy Dyson, Mark Gatiss, Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith), the guys who were responsible for the TV series of the same name. This is played for laughs more so than for informative purposes but you can tell that these guys know, appreciate and enjoy older horror pictures like this and their enthusiasm for the material is infectious. Additionally they're able to share some insight into what works and what doesn't and tell some stories about meeting some of the cast members during their own travels through the world of show business. This is a good listen and worth taking the time to go through.

    From there we move onto the featurettes, starting with the twelve minute A Priceless Potboiler: Victoria Price Discusses Theatre of Blood in which the daughter of the film's leading man why this was one of her late father's favorite films, how Price would meet her future step-mother during this production and more. It's quite an affectionate remembrance piece and a nice addition to the disc. A Fearful Thespian is an eleven minute interview with film historian David Del Valle, a man who knew price and who knows much about his work. Del Valle covers some of the same details as Victoria Price's piece does in talking about why Price loved this particular film so much, but then it goes on to talk about Price's acting abilities outside of the horror genre and about the range he could and very often did show. The nine minute Staged Reaction is an interview with star Madeleine Smith in which she talks about how Douglas Hickox would wind up casting her in the film, what it was like working with the director and some of the cast members and more. Last but not least, we get the eighteen minute A Harmony For Horror which is an interview with composer Michael J. Lewis. Here he recreates parts of his score featured in the movie, talks about the reservations that he had in regards to working on a horror film and how he feels about the picture in hindsight.

    The Final Word:

    Arrow's Blu-ray release of Theatre Of Blood is excellent, affording this great movie a very fine transfer, nice audio and a strong selection of entertaining and interesting supplemental features. A great release through and through.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    • Paul L
      Paul L
      Scholar of Sleaze
      Paul L commented
      Editing a comment
      This is a cracking release. I've long been a fan of this film (I still have the LaserDisc somewhere) and was pleased to see it get such special treatment :)

    • Lalala76
      Senior Member
      Lalala76 commented
      Editing a comment
      Originally posted by Paul L
      This is a cracking release. I've long been a fan of this film (I still have the LaserDisc somewhere) and was pleased to see it get such special treatment :)
      I echo that
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