|Reviews & Columns|
TV on DVD
Reviews by Studio
Collector Series DVDs
Easter Egg Database
DVD Talk Radio
The M.O.D. Squad
DVD Talk Forum
DVD Price Search|
Customer Service #'s
Theater of Blood
Theatre Of Blood tells the tale of Edward Lionheart (Vincent Price), an aging Shakespearian actor who refuses to branch out and perform anything that was not penned by The Bard. When award season rolls around and Lionheart is denied the Best Actor Award that he was sure he deserved, he dives into the Thames to end it all but is rescued by some homeless types.
Now that everyone believes him to be dead, Lionheart figures out which critics were responsible for this and sets out to get fatal revenge. There's more to this than just an older, unstable actor knocking off those who have said unkind things about him. Lionheart puts enough care and planning into his murders that he's able to base each one off of a scene inspired by one of Shakespeare's own plays! He's also not going to be going it alone, as he's got his daughter, Edwina (Diana Rigg of The Avengers fame) helping him out.
Well regarded amongst Price fans and beloved by the late actor himself, Theatre Of Blood really offers the actor one of those rare ‘perfect' roles. No one else could have brought the same sense of both mayhem and tragedy to this part the way that Price did and he really gives it his all here. While he was an actor who would typically do fine work even when dealing with lesser scripts and hack directors, he really and truly shines here and he was obviously quite aware of the ways in which his character could easily draw parallels to his own real world career. He also shows a great knack with the blackly comedic aspects of the script. Price definitely did have a good sense of humor (Hilarious House Of Frightenstein fans know this only too well!) and you just know by watching this film that he absolutely got what director Douglas Hickox and screenwriter Anthony Greville-Bell were going for here.
Of course, having Diana Rigg onboard doesn't hurt either and while she doesn't quite play the sexpot you might expect if you're only familiar with her from The Avengers (she's actually dressed as a man for much of the film) she delivers fine work and is quite fun to watch. Likewise, a supporting effort from Ian Hendry is equally enjoyable.
As to those murder set pieces based on Shakespeare's work? They're pretty fantastic. Yes, there is a sense of black humor behind each and every one but they're quite gory (as was much of the writing that inspired them in the first place) and do not want for impact. So much of it all plays off of the tragic side of Shakespeare's output but the twists that the movie employs to make them unique are both clever and amusing. Price again really just goes for it in these moments and delivers remarkable work. It's all very over the top, but deliciously so and anyone who enjoys Price's work should absolutely have a good time with this twisted and legitimately bizarre entry in his filmography.
Theater Of Blood looks excellent on Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition framed properly at 1.66.1 widescreen and taking up 29.3GBS of space on the 50GB disc. Texture and color are both vastly improved over the previous DVD release and the nicely encoded disc is free of compression artifacts, edge enhancement and noise reduction. Skin tones look nice and warm without ever getting too pink and color reproduction is pretty much excellent across the board. Detail is strong throughout the picture and the lovely HD transfer really shows off the slick cinematography used in the movie very nicely.
The only audio option for the feature is a 16-bit DTS-HD 2.0 track in English with optional subtitles provided, also in English. This isn't a particularly fancy track but it sounds good, balancing the score and the dialogue properly and offering up the sound effects used in the picture with solid punch. There are no problems with any hiss or distortion, this is a fine mix.
Extras start off with a commentary from screenwriter/producer Alan Spencer that goes over the Shakespearean connections, the alternate title that the film was shot under, the opening titles and where some of the footage we see there comes from, how pretty much everyone in the cast of the film has Shakespeare in their background, the locations used in the film, whether or not Price performs the Shakespearean parts competently or not, details on the makeup used in some of the film's key scenes, how the film deals with the concept of film criticism, notes on the different cast and crew that were involved with the picture, how Price himself felt about his work on this picture and the state of his career around this time and plenty more. It's a nice mix of trivia and analysis from someone who clearly really appreciates this film.
Carried over from the Twilight Time Blu-ray release is an audio commentary featuring film historians David Del Valle and Nick Redman that is quite interesting and entertaining. The two discuss various influences that clearly worked their way into the storyline here but also spend a good bit of time offering input into the locations that were used for much of the film. Del Valle's pretty much an authority on Vincent Price and so he's able to offer up a lot of interesting anecdotes about the various relationships he had with cast members like Diana Rigg but also to provide some important information about where the actor was at, professionally speaking, at this point in the later part of his career. It's a good track with a lot of information packed into it, delivered with the right mix of humor and insight.
The disc also includes a trailer alongside a few TV and radio spots for the feature, a Trailers From Hell entry with Alan Spencer, as well as bonus trailers for The Raven, Master Of The World, The Last Man On Earth, The Tomb Of Ligeia, Scream And Scream Again and The House Of Long Shadows. Menus and chapter selection are also offered and this release comes packaged with a slipcover.
Kino's Blu-ray release of Theatre Of Blood is excellent, affording this great movie a very fine transfer, nice audio and a strong selection of entertaining and interesting supplemental features. A great release through and through. Highly recommended.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.