These innovative interpretations of Shakespeare's works may quite possibly have serious theatre lovers reeling in dismay, but they are indeed undeniably clever. The death scenes are done with an air of light humour. Sure, somebody is being brutally murdered, but it's all done in a "fun" way! These scenes are possibly the sort of humour that such films as the later Nightmare on Elm Street films attempted to recreate, but failed in my opinion.
Of course, it probably helps the viewer to see the lighter side of the murders because the victims are critics, who are represented fairly early on as hateful figures - with names such as Snipe, Dickman and Larding, we find ourselves despising their characters and offering our sympathies to the murderous Lionheart. I do wonder how this would play out if the film was remade for the modern audience - an X Factor hopeful cleverly offing the judges who dared crush their dreams.
Theatre of Blood shows the critics as bitter, snobbish, nasty individuals whose death is venomously conceived, ferociously well-written and executed, and ultimately, deserved. The makeup used to recreate the various Shakespearean characters that Price plays, is often over-the-top and sometimes chilling.
You truly do feel sympathy for Lionheart who, like many performers, keeps all his bad reviews and remembers every single word. You come to realise that there are people behind productions, and those people can be quite fragile. This film shows that the act of criticising is punishable by death.
But what can a critic say about the film itself? It is funny, amusing, knowledgeable and witty - a self-reflective, satirical horror film. Price plays his role with flawless comic delivery, yet at the same time, brings an air of tragedy with it - very Shakespearean! He is clearly insane, yet you do not hate this character. Rather you sympathise with his grievances.
Price gives each line of dialogue the treatment that you would expect of his unique acting style, and you can tell that he is enjoying every minute of it - carrying the entire film from start to finish. He is positively buoyant , lifting the humorous material to legitimately hilarious heights.
Theatre of Blood is a happy mix of blood, murder, Shakespearean tragedy and death.
Why We Heart: Theatre of Blood
By Andreas Charalambous - 7th November 2013
What is quite possibly my favourite Vincent Price film, Theatre of Blood stars the great man as Edward Lionheart - a "hammy" actor who is rejected by critical circles.
Not appreciating these personal attacks on what he feels is his serious acting career, Lionheart exacts bloody revenge and satirises the world of Shakespearean theatre in one bloody swoop. This film is highly amusing (look out for Price playing a camp hairdresser, sporting a big afro) and the methods in which Lionheart dishes out lethal justice, is very inventive (more pie, anyone?).
In another favourite Price film The Abominable Dr Phibes, he recreates the ten curses of the Pharaohs to dispatch his enemies. In Theatre of Blood, he stages the deaths of various plays by William Shakespeare - Julius Caesar, Troilus and Cressida, Romeo and Juliet, Cymbeline, The Merchant of Venice, Titus Andronicus and Richard III all get slapstick horror makeovers.