Review: The Special Edition of 'Theater Of Blood' a Smart, Wicked Joy

by Frank J. Avella

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday September 7, 2021

The magic of Vincent Price has always eluded me, and after finally seeing what is widely regarded as his best film (even by Price himself), the black comedy "Theater of Blood," I am still not entirely certain I get his appeal. But I can report that he does deliver an excellent turn in a role he probably knew how to play all too well.

Released in 1973, "Blood" is a forerunner for the slasher-flicks that would bombard cinema screens in the late '70s and well into the '80s, yet it's so much better and more creative in comparison than most of the crap movies that are now seen as classics that it fingerknife-boggles the mind.

Price plays Edward Lionheart, a Shakespearian stage actor who refused to ever play anything but the Bard (and one we are never sure is very good). Lionheart is presumed dead via suicide, yet a gaggle of his harshest critics are being horrifically murdered. It turns out the actor is alive and well, and seeking revenge on one particular critic's group that denied him a coveted award a few years earlier — and each execution is inspired by a different Shakespearian play. Aiding the mad thesp in the killing spree is his loyal daughter, Edwina (the deliriously good Diana Rigg). Will Lionheart and his troupe of butchers achieve their goal in ridding the world of these poison penned critics?

Anthony Greville-Bell's screenplay is smart, wicked, and a joy. Director Douglas Hickox does a fine job keeping the action moving. The film blends mystery, thriller, comedy, and horror nicely. And the movie contains some gruesomely fabulous kill scenes. The only negative for me was the unsatisfying ending.

The supporting cast is bloody terrific, boasting a Who's Who of some of Britain's best, including, Ian Hendry, Harry Andrews, Coral Browne, Jack Hawkins, Michael Hordern, Robert Morley, Dennis Price, Diana Dors, Madeline Smith, and Milo O'Shea.

The film looks great on Blu-ray, with Wolfgang Suschitzky's impressive cinematography popping. The audio is fine.

A new audio commentary by Alan Spencer drones on about Shakespeare a bit too much. An older audio commentary by David Del Valle and Nick Redman covers all other aspects of the film, including career insights.

I highly recommend "Theater of Blood" for fans of theater, satire, or horror, or for anyone who has ever gotten a bad review. You will smile. A lot. "Revenge should have no bounds." — Hamlet 4.7.143

Blu-ray Extras Include:

  • New audio commentary by screenwriter/producer Alan Spencer
  • Audio commentary by film historians David Del Valle and Nick Redman
  • "Trailers from Hell" with Alan Spencer
  • Two TV Spots
  • Four Radio Spots
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Reversible Art
  • Limited Edition O-Card Slipcase

    "Theater of Blood" is available September 7, 2021, on Blu-ray.

    Frank J. Avella is a film and theatre journalist and is thrilled to be writing for EDGE. He also contributes to Awards Daily and is the GALECA East Coast Rep. Frank is a recipient of a 2019 International Writers Retreat Residency at Arte Studio Ginestrelle (Assisi, Italy), a 2018 Bogliasco Foundation Fellowship, a 2016 Helene Wurlitzer Residency Grant and a 2015 NJ State Arts Council Fellowship Award. He is an award-winning screenwriter and playwright (CONSENT, LURED, SCREW THE COW, FIG JAM, VATICAN FALLS) and a proud member of the Dramatists Guild.