After making my way through a few less-Vincent Pricey-than-I-hoped movies like Alice Cooper: Welcome To My Nightmare and Escapes, I wanted to get back to a full-blown performance for It’s All Connected, and, as it turned out, 1973’s Theater Of Blood was exactly what I wanted!
Directed by Douglas Hickox — whose films did not ring a bell — this movie allows Price to cut loose as Edward Lionheart, a snubbed theatrical actor who has decided to elaborately kill members of the critics group that decided to not award him the best actor prize. Much like Dr. Phibes, Lionheart manages to take out the first few victims without raising too much suspicion because he’s supposed to be dead. In one of my favorite scenes in the movie, he confronts the critics and then decides to take a dive off the building he’s on into the river. From there, he was taken in by a homeless mob who moments prior to acceptance, intended to strip every useful item from his presumed-dead body.
When not planning these wild killings — all of which coincide with the plays of William Shakespeare that Lionheart had performed in — he hangs out with the aforementioned horde of homeless maniacs (they’re always drinking something purple that looks like the stuff in the Sunny D commercials) in an abandoned theater where he puts on shows. Oh, and sometimes his daughter Edwina (Diana Rigg) is around.
Theater Of Blood includes some wild kills, from dozens of stabs to a surgery performed right next to a man’s drugged wife. However, my favorite set-piece of the flick came when Lionheart disguised himself as a fencer so he could take out one of the critics at his gym. As soon as I saw the set-up, I was excited, but it exceeded all my expectations by including way more trampolines than I could have even imagined! Oh, and then there’s the hairdresser bit. And the cooking thing. Wow.
While I will forever love the weirdness of the Phibes films, Theater Of Blood now holds an equally special place in my heart. Mostly, it’s fun to have another Price film in this weird and wild vein. I love that I can see him as humanly sinister in House On Haunted Hill, working in a variety of layers in the Corman AIP flicks and then full-on murderous in these movies. What a great actor with all sorts of greatness to put in my brain!
If you’re getting sick of seeing me write about Vincent Price films, too bad! Actually, there will be a break when it comes to the film after next, but then we’re back to my guy for a few more before moving on to a few other icons of the genre!