October 18, 2011

Horror-A-Day: Theater of Blood

I am not sure if I have mentioned it to you, but I love horror. I may have plenty of gaping holes in my horror knowledge and experience, it (along with science fiction) are my go to genres. This is partially why I enjoy this time of year, gives me added excuse to dive into a stack of horror. This year is my first shot at doing a marathon like this and the experience will help me when I do it again next year, potentially. Anyway, the other day I added a solid werewolf to my viewing list and now I have gone a little bit older, perhaps a touch campier, but still a more than worthy entry.

There are some actors whose careers have been defined by their horror output, in some cases it has been defined by their horror output with certain studios. In this case, the man defines a genre with his unique screen presence, incredible voice, and his skills to be simultaneously campy and scary. The man is none other than Vincent Price.

The movie I watched is one I have seen before but it has been a few years. It is the 1972 theatrically themed revenge piece Theater of Blood. It is a fun story of grisly revenge as an actor takes it to his critics who essentially ruined his career.

Vincent Price is Edward Lionheart, a lifelong stage actor whose most recent output was a season's worth of Shakespeare. He believed it to be the best work of his career, the audiences loved him, but the critics had other thoughts. Then, when it came time to present the critics award for acting, Lionheart lost by a unanimous decision. How could this be? But I am getting ahead of myself.

The story is set one year after the presumed death of the thespian. Of course, he is not actually dead, but he has taken up residence in an old forgotten theater with his new acting troupe, comprised of the homeless, the alcoholic, and the drug addicted refuse of London. They are his new family and he uses them to draw out the hated members of the critics circle where he takes on various guises from him season of Shakespeare to punish them with death.

This is a funny, grisly film that does no really have a lot of on screen blood, but there is some and I is usually delivered with Price's inimitable style and grace. Darkly humorous and deadly serious, Edward goes about his deeds in a movie that is the ultimate in actor's tragedy. This is a wonderfully macabre film.

Theater of Blood is a very entertaining movie. I hesitate to call it Price's best, there is a lo to be said for the likes of Witchfinder General and The Last Man on Earth, not to mention House of Wax and The Fly, or even The Abominable Dr. Phibes. Still, it is fun to see critics get their comeuppance from a wronged actor.

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