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Theater of Blood

4.2 out of 5 stars 101 customer reviews

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(Aug 28, 2001)
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Theater of Blood

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Editorial Reviews

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-been 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

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Vincent Price, Diana Rigg, Ian Hendry, Harry Andrews, Coral Browne
  • Directors: Douglas Hickox
  • Writers: John Kohn, Anthony Greville-Bell, Stanley Mann, William Shakespeare
  • Producers: Gustave M. Berne, John Kohn, Sam Jaffe
  • Format: Color, Letterboxed, Subtitled, Widescreen, Closed-captioned, NTSC, Dolby
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: Spanish, French
  • Dubbed: Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
  • DVD Release Date: August 28, 2001
  • Run Time: 104 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (101 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005K3OD
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #29,670 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Theater of Blood" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
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.Read more ›
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Format: DVD
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.
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Format: DVD
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.
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Format: VHS Tape
One of my favorite movie themes are tales of revenge. Perhaps it is because I have felt wrong so many times and would give anything to "repay favors." Another is the systematic elimination of a group of people, with the reader/viewer wondering who will be killed next and how. Call this second the Ten Little Indians theme popularized by Agatha Christie.
Theater Of Blood evokes both themes, taking the revenge theme of The Abominable Dr. Phibes, also starring Price, further, in terms of gore and violence. The tale of Edwin Lionheart, a hammy theater actor who seeks revenge after the critics who denied him the Critics Circle Award for Best Actor. He murders them in the manner of deaths performed in Shakespeare's plays. To this end, he is assisted by a group of drunks, billed as the Meth Drinkers, who obey their master and relish the killings as much as he. Vincent Price excels himself in the role of Lionheart and for this, he deserves a positive award of some kind.
Ian Hendry plays the harried head of the Critics Circle, Peregrine Devlin, Diana Rigg plays Lionheart's daughter Edwina, and Milo O'Shea (Duran Duran in Barbarella), plays Inspector Boot. Other familiar British faces include veteran actor Michael Hordern, Arthur Lowe (No Sex Please We're British, Dad's Army, Bless Me, Father) and Dennis Price (The Lavender Hill Mob, The Magic Christian) in one of his last films--he died the same year as the movie's release. John Morley, another veteran, plays a critic who is more than a bit camp, never without two poodles in his arms. Joan Hickson, who plays the wife of one of the critics, is seen here not only thinner but with red hair. A sharp contrast to her best known role as Miss Marple. British sexpot Diana Dors makes an appearance, still sensuous.
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