31 Days of Halloween – Day 20 – Vincent Price in a theater with lots of blood
If you swear off movies like Theater of Blood (1973) because they’re old, then you’re missing out, because Vincent Price owned the 70s and this movie proves it. How he got away with this movie, I’ll never know. It’s gory. It’s bad. It’s funny. Good times.
There’s no doubt that Vincent Price was typecast in his career for all the stupid horror movies he did, but he celebrated his place in film history, much like Adam West, William Shatner or Leonard Nimoy later did. I think the best Vincent Price movie is House on Haunted Hill, but most people prefer The Fly or The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971). Phibes was a campy hit, and fits Vincent Price’s style to a tee. He followed up this mega-hit with a string of successes, including Theater of Blood, where he hams it up all over again. Some people think this is less campy than Phibes, but I think they’re nuts. Vincent Price can’t be any more hammy and over-the-top.
Theater of Blood tells the story of how Edward Lionheart gets his revenge on all the critics who did him wrong. It’s a revenge movie, a black comedy, and a horror film all rolled into one. He wants to get revenge on the critics who snubbed him at an awards show and continuously dogged him with their negativity. Poor guy. Maybe this is a fantasy for everyone who has thought of getting back at the stupid media. I think your method of getting even might be different, because Vincent Price tries to poke a critic’s eyes out with hot pokers. Ouch.
I think this movie might have been an influence on the movie Saw in 2004. Vincent Price loves his traps and tortures, just like Jigsaw in the Saw franchise. Price hams it up a lot more with some Shakespeare quotes, but the influence is there. He puts this critic into a slowly-activating-trap-of-death, just like in Saw or Scooby Doo or something, except there’s really no way to escape. The critic is only saved because the trap malfunctions.
So Vincent Price fakes his own death to start his revenge spree. They build up his victims as some of the most annoying people ever, complete with stuffy shirts and rich-guy smirk. Vincent Price jumps in a river and everybody thinks he’s dead. What a perfect cover story, right? Well, he shacks up with some of the homeless and starts to plot against the evil, evil critics. The guy is sorta obsessed. SORTA. (/sarcasm)
If you thought Phibes was campy, that’s nothing. Vincent Price takes ham to a whole new level. He serves the ham, and some sides to go along with it. As a lunatic killer, he recites Shakespeare before killing his victims, and keeps a scrapbook of his enemies, squinting and smirking in preparation to kill them. HE’S OFF HIS ROCKER.
In one scene, Price invades some guy’s house and dresses up like a doctor, ready to perform a little surgery. He drugs him while he’s asleep and sedates his wife next to him, then takes his time cutting his head off with a tiny scalpel. He keeps the severed head on the pillow, which frightens his wife to death when she wakes up in the morning. The maid freaks out when the head rolls off onto the floor. Yeah, that’s the kind of movie we’re dealing with here.
The bodycount piles up quickly in this movie. In about 20 minutes, Price has already killed three critics. The movie begins en media res, so it doesn’t waste time with an origin story about how he becomes an insane wacko who dresses in make-up. Diana Rigg plays Lionheart’s daughter and she seems to be the only one he likes.
In all, this is a fun movie, with each successive kill more creative than the last. It’s like Saw without the annoying melodrama and the stupid fast-forward of the camera footage. I can’t decide which kill is my favorite, but it’s probably the doctor scene or the chef scene. Vincent Price’s disguises are probably even more hilarious than the kills. He dresses as a 70s hippy with an afro and really gets into it. It’s the weird kind of funny that makes you chuckle and say, “What the HELL is going on with this movie? LOL”.
In all, this movie is entertaining if you can endure the campy, campy stupidness. I was half-expecting Adam West to walk in. Diana Rigg does alright to give us a break from Vincent Price, because it seems like he’s in almost every minute of this movie. Nobody does it like Vincent Price. He pretends to be a doctor, a chef, a hippy, and a French masseuse, but he’s really an obsessive-compulsive serial killer. Talk about range. lol.
31. Poltergeist (1982) vs Poltergeist (2015)
30. Blair Witch Project (1999)
29. Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
28. The Wicker Man (1973) and The Wicker Man Remake
27. Tales from the Darkside, the Movie (1990)
26. Saw (2004)
25. The Prophecy (1995)
24. The Hills have Eyes (1977)
23. House of the Long Shadows (1983)
22. Creepshow (1982)
21. Phantasm (1979)
20. The Omen (1976) vs Damien: The Omen II
19. We Are Still Here (2015)
18. The Guest
17. Return of the Living Dead (1985)
15. The House that Dripped Blood (1971)
14. Army of Darkness (1992)
13. In the Mouth of Madness (1994)
12. Friday the 13th Part III (1982)
11. Theater of Blood (1973)
10. House of Wax (1953) vs House of Wax (2005)
9. Hellraiser Inferno (2000)
8. Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943)
7. The Changeling (1980)
6. The Eye (2002)
5. The Hitcher (1986)
4. Paranormal Activity (2007)
3. 28 Days Later (2003)
2. Suspiria (1977)
1. Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) – This review will be published October 31st!