Theatre of Blood (1973) reviews and overview [updated]

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Theatre of Blood is a 1973 British horror feature film directed by Douglas Hickox and starring Vincent Price as vengeful actor Edward Lionheart and Diana Rigg as his daughter Edwina Lionheart.

The cast includes Harry Andrews, Coral Browne, Robert Coote, Jack Hawkins, Michael Hordern, Arthur Lowe, Joan Hickson, Robert Morley, Milo O’Shea, Diana Dors, Dennis Price, Ian Hendry and Eric Sykes. Price considered it to be his personal favourite of all his films.

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When a top London film critic is murdered in a way reminiscent of Julius Caesar’s death in the Shakespeare play of the same name, it is clear that someone is starting to kill off the members of the Critics’ Circle. Could the murderer be Edward Lionheart (Vincent Price), an actor humiliated by the Circle, who apparently committed suicide because they failed to recognise him? Could be…

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Lionheart’s theatre hideout was the Putney Hippodrome, built-in 1906. It had been boarded up for fourteen years when it was chosen as a location for this film.

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When the movie was adapted for the London stage in 2005, Diana Rigg’s role was filled by her real-life daughter, Rachael Stirling.

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Review:

Great as the Phibes movies are, this is much, much better. In fact, it’s one of the great British horror movies, up there with the best of Hammer, The Wicker Man and other classics.

“This new [Arrow] edition includes amongst the extras a commentary by the stars of The League of Gentlemen, and this is definitely worth a listen – enthusiastic, amusing and informative, it’s more a fan appreciation than anything, and is infinitely preferable to a dry ‘expert’ commentary. It does make you wish Price was still around to talk about these films though. Imagine the commentaries he could have given!

David Flint, MOVIES and MANIA

Other reviews:

“Lionheart’s Shakespearean death traps are wonderfully theatrical, but Price’s performance is often surprisingly poignant, especially his ostensive suicide scene, involving Hamlet’s soliloquy. He and Rigg are terrific together. Frankly, fans had never seen Rigg as she appeared in Theater—you sort of need to see it to understand why.” J.B. Spins

Theatre of Blood has it all. It’s extremely gory and full of dark humor, and wit. Once again Price is allowed to shine. He is at his finest in this role, in one of the few films that can rival The Abominable Doctor Phibes, in its sheer and utter mayhem, served with a touch of class.” Monsters at Play.

“The series of reworked murder scenes are clever, but in succession are a bit exhausting, especially as they increasingly rely on contrivance and coincidence. (For the Othello segment, one critic is led, a bit too easily, to murder his wife out of jealousy.) The real pleasure here is watching Price exercise his campy range…” The L Magazine

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theatre of blood 1973

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Vincent Price … Edward Lionheart
Diana Rigg … Edwina Lionheart
Ian Hendry … Peregrine Devlin
Harry Andrews … Trevor Dickman
Robert Coote … Oliver Larding
Michael Hordern … George Maxwell
Robert Morley … Meredith Merridew
Coral Browne … Chloe Moon
Jack Hawkins … Solomon Psaltery
Arthur Lowe … Horace Sprout
Dennis Price … Hector Snipe
Milo O’Shea … Inspector Boot
Eric Sykes … Sergeant Dogge
Diana Dors … Maisie Psaltery
Joan Hickson … Mrs Sprout
Renée Asherson … Mrs Maxwell
Madeline Smith … Rosemary
Brigid Erin Bates … Agnes
Charles Sinnickson … Vicar
Tutte Lemkow … Meths Drinker
Declan Mulholland … Meths Drinker
Stanley Bates … Meths Drinker
John Gilpin … Meths Drinker

Filming locations:

Alembic House – 93 Albert Embankment, Vauxhall, London, England (Devlin’s apartment)
Dock Road, Brentford, Middlesex, England (Lionheart is revived by wine drinkers)
Kensal Green Cemetery, Harrow Road, Kensal Green, London, England
London Dungeon – 28-34 Tooley Street, London, England (interior of the wine cellar)
Oakley Court, Windsor Road, Oakley Green, Windsor, Berkshire, England
Putney Hippodrome, Felsham Road, Putney, London, England
Robert Fielding Hair Salon, Knightsbridge, London, England
Thames Lock, Brentford, Middlesex, England (Lionheart is revived)
Windsor Great Park, Windsor, Berkshire, England

Technical details:

104 minutes
Aspect ratio: 1.85: 1
Audio: Mono

Alternate titles:

Theater of Blood

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