Whenever I’m feeling especially sad, I know there’s always one man I can turn to who will make me feel better. I am of course referring to my second fictional husband, Mr Vincent Price.
I mentioned in my post about The Abominable Doctor Phibes that a great accompaniment is another Price film called Theatre of Blood. Once again it concerns a man who is believed to be dead exacting horrible and creative acts of revenge on those he feels has wronged him. Except instead of the deadly sins, this time the murders are inspired by Shakespeare’s more gruesome death scenes.
Price plays Edward Lionheart, a stage actor who is still firmly stuck in the ‘Olivier’ style of performance, and is lambasted by the critics for it. When he is overlooked for an important award, he confronts the seven judges before apparently committing suicide by jumping into the Thames.
But of course he’s not dead. With the help of his faithful daughter (Diana Rigg) and a troupe of homeless people, Lionheart lures each critic into elaborate traps in order to exact his revenge. The deaths are awesome and actually pretty gory. As a former literature student I really loved the creative use of Shakespearian death scenes. We get the pound of flesh extraction from The Merchant of Venice, the death by wine vat from Richard III and the decapitation from Cymbeline to name a few.
Aside from the sheer absurdity of the murders, it also means that Price gets to dress up in some truly amazing costumes. Theatre of Blood is the film that provided the world with this:
There are few movie scenes that make me feel happier.
While the film is an absolute riot, there are also moments of pathos. You end up really rooting for Lionheart, even more so than for Phibes, just because the critics really are all dicks. The scene when the devastated Lionheart shows up to confront them and they just laugh at him is simply heartbreaking, and they really garner no sympathy. The relationship between Lionheart and his daughter is also very touching, and adds depth to all the blood and absurdity.
Price said that this was his favourite film, mostly because he got to play a host of Shakespearian characters. He also met his future wife, Coral Browne, while filming whom he stayed with until her death.
Basically, this is a fantastic film and you should all go and watch it if you haven’t already. It’s great fun.
As a sidenote, there is one extra in the film playing one of Lionheart’s troupe of vagrants who looks EXACTLY like Zelda from Pet Sematary. Seriously. She’s on the bottom right.
I know it’s not, but seriously. She appears a few times and it really freaks me out!
P.S. Apologies for the lack of posts recently. I’ve been having some personal issues, but I will try very hard to get back on top of things.