28 October 2009

Theater of Blood (1973)

Directed by: Douglas Hickox
Written by: Anthony Greville-Bell
Full credits at IMDb

One hesitates to write a bad word about Theater of Blood, a goofily highbrow splatterfest, given that it's a movie in which critics who file negative notices get murdered in manners most clever and classical. Vincent Price stars as Lionheart, a thespian who only played Shakespeare and never got a good review; he fakes his own death and then picks off, one by one, the circle of London critics who disparaged his star turns. Lionheart and his merry band of feral followers, mostly backalley drunks, kill each in the manner of a death scene from the Bard's folio: one is stabbed multiple times on the Ides of March, like Caesar; another by false friends, a la Hector in Troilus and Cressida; another beheaded in bed, as in Cymbeline. (A highlight: as Price saws off the critic's head, the decapitee's sedated wife moans, "You're snoring again!") This time, Shylock gets his pound of flesh! And so on.

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