Karloff, Lugosi, Chaney.
These are a few names that are among the immortals of horror. If there were a founding fathers monument for horror, they would probably be on it. For the fourth and final face, you would no doubt have to include the great Vincent Price.
Vincent Price is a man who is impossible to not love and appreciate. He’s the best kind of person, someone who is very intelligent and never came across as pretentious or took himself too seriously. As seen in most of Vincent Price’s films, even as a cold blooded killer he carries a wonderful sense of humor.
One of the most entertaining aspects of the film, Vincent Price posing as a gay hairdresser.
The plot for Theatre of Blood revolved around a Shakespearean actor who after not winning a critics’ choice award takes his own life, but unknown to the critics who gave negative reviews is alive and has been waiting to get revenge. As he gets revenge he reenacts the goriest moments of Shakespeare’s work. With this kind of storytelling and excess gore, this film very much feels like a Herschell Gordon Lewis film with a much better script, performers and budget.
Apparently Vincent Price’s favorite film, Theatre of Blood is by far the most entertaining and memorable for Price in a career filled with memorable moments. I can see why Price would love this film so much given it feels like a film only written for Vincent Price and a film only he could pull off. Price’s performance involve numerous moments of Shakespearean quotation and a variety of costumes where he disguises himself as different characters. The quality camp involved with the gore is truly something only Vincent Price could pull off this perfectly.
Because this came out in the 1970s, a time when most horror films were very serious dramas, Theatre of Blood has been passed over and perhaps forgotten due to its level of camp humor mixed with a bloodbath. For any true fan of horror I feel this is indeed a very important viewing. Released in 1973, a year before Black Christmas, a film considered to be the birth of the slasher genre, Theatre of Blood belongs in the group of pre-slasher films that influenced what the sub-genre would soon become.
Watching this film years after the slasher sub-genre has been brutally beaten into the ground, this film ages like a fine wine due to the amount of quality and creativity that goes into every kill. I can’t stress how fun it is watching Vincent Price in a disguise, surprising the victim and then launching into classic Shakespearean dialogue that only a performer of his caliber can perform. It should also be noted how Vincent Price is a killer who can always see the humor in the most macabre situations almost fifteen years before Freddy Krueger started to become a serial killer with a sense of dark humor.