Saturday, October 19, 2013


Every horrorhound's favorite month is upon us, and to celebrate, I'll be dishing out a personal pick from the genre for every day in October. Some will be obvious and rather unoriginal (sorry that I like movies other people like), while some will be a little more oddball and off-the-wall. Some may even challenge your idea of what constitutes a "horror" movie. Regardless, I hope you enjoy the month with some good movies, even if they aren't ones I recommend!

Today's Pick: Theatre of Blood (1973)

As horror genre laureate Brian Collins has said on his Horror Movie A Day blog, "If you go all October without watching a Vincent Price movie, you're doing something wrong." The man is an absolute legend, but more importantly, he's an icon that seems to relish any bit of ghoulish fun he can inject into a project, making the majority of his filmography perfect for the Halloween season. Picking just one of his films was tough, but I think I was able to do it. Theatre of Blood manages to mesh together lots of elements that make a Price film great: a gleefully macabre sensibility, theatrical brilliance and, in the end, a genuinely poignant story and character.

Edward Lionheart (Vincent Price) is a disgraced Shakespearean actor, denied the recognition he believes his talent deserves. After being refused a prestigious award by an influential circle of theatre critics, he attempts suicide but is saved by a group of wandering derelicts. Determined to seek violent retribution on his critics, he enlists the help of his faithful daughter (Diana Rigg) and stages elaborate death scenarios for each of victims, using the works of the Bard himself as inspiration.

While this film's plot is basically a reworked version of the equally enjoyable The Abominable Dr. Phibes, it surpasses that movie by allowing us to see Vincent Price utilize every aspect of himself to convey his character, instead of relying on a mostly vocal performance. Also, Theatre of Blood lets Price indulge in a multitude of roles, since each murder takes inspiration from a different Shakespeare play. Seeing Price play dress-up and try out a variety of characters is a worthy selling point in of itself, but there's another aspect to Theatre of Blood that gives the film a very sentimental core.

Price was pigeonholed into the horror genre and was often regarded as something of a ham throughout his career. Because of these things, it's possible that he didn't get to portray certain dramatic or "serious" roles that he would have liked. Theatre of Blood feels like an extremely personal film for Price. It's a chance for him to showcase his incredible range, recite some of the dramatic world's most memorable lines and lash out at those who thought he was some kind of one-trick pony. The ending monologue Price gives (from "King Lear") is heart-wrenching and delivered with the utmost passion. But through it all, there's never a hint of bitterness or spite. Price plays everything with his trademark brand of devilish charm and affection. It's truly captivating and loads of fun.

If Theatre of Blood isn't Price's best film, it certainly has to be in the top five. This is a chance to see one of the most talented actors of the era cut loose and have an infectious amount of fun, while also showing the audience that there's a lot more to him then what was usually expected. It's a wicked bit of bloody joy and fits in with the Halloween spirit perfectly.

Next up, we're going to go look at a very exclusive exhibit. I hope we don't get sucked in...

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