Theatre Of Blood was first released in 1973 and is directed, brilliantly I might add, by Douglas Hickox (Zulu Dawn, Brannigan).
It tells the story of Shakespearean actor Edward Lionheart (Vincent Price – The Fly, House Of Wax) and his lovely and loyal daughter Edwina Lionheart (Diana Rigg – The Avengers, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service).
After years of ridicule, followed by one serious humiliation at the hands of the Critics Circle, led by Peregrine Devlin (Ian Hendry – Get Carter, Repulsion), this seasoned actor appears to take his own life as they look on and laugh. However, it soon becomes apparent that rumours of his demise have been greatly exaggerated, as members of the Critics Circle begin to drop like flies in all sorts of imaginative and deeply disturbing ways.
As the film opens, we see the first victim, George Maxwell (Michael Hordern – Where Eagles Dare, Gandhi) as he responds to a call to remove squatters from a building which he owns, so that it can be demolished. He is brutally attacked by a crowd of strangely dressed individuals and as he lies dying he recognizes his attacker as Edward Lionheart.
Each victim is removed from the equation using the methods from a Shakespeare production (eg. Troilus and Cressida, Richard III, Romeo and Juliet) put on by Lionheart, and in the order in which they were originally performed.
A great idea for a film this, even if you are familiar with the plays of Shakespeare, you can’t always predict which method Lionheart will use. And if you are not a fan, then it will probably be quite educational.
The special effects are really rather good and are very much enhanced by the conversion, rather than shown up by it.There is something inherently sinister about a run down theatre and an excessive amount of poorly applied grease paint, and this film in all its crispy goodness captures that feeling perfectly.
There’s nothing in the world quite like an early seventies British horror film, surreal, freaky and deeply unsettling and Theatre Of Blood is an excellent demonstration of this, an essential addition to any self respecting horror collection.
“Only he would have the temerity to re-write Shakespeare.”
Theatre Of Blood is available to buy now on Blu-ray and Blu-ray Steelbook.