THEATER OF BLOOD (1973) – everyone has heard of “Vincent Price movies,” almost as if the actor’s performances constituted their very own genre, and in a way that’s not so wrong. But too often, people wanting a taste of the Vincent Price magic bite off a piece of spoiled fruit, because the guy made more stinky movies than he had hot dinners. Netflix has several of his best films (don’t miss The Witchfinder General, and Masque of the Red Death) but the top dog in this pack is Theater of Blood. Price is Edward Lionheart, a truly terrible ham-flavored Shakespearean actor who kills himself after bad reviews drive him to despair. But, it turns out he’s not quite dead yet. Assisted by his daughter (Diana Rigg, looking amazing) and a gang of insane tramps who have pickled their brains on booze, he enacts a suitably Shakespearean revenge on the critics who gave him the bad reviews that sent him to an early grave: one is stabbed to death on the Ides of March (Julius Caesar), one is drowned in a cask of wine (Richard III), one is fed his own children (Titus Andronicus), etc.
Basically a showcase for Price’s performance as the spooky, insane, hilarious, and totally ruthless Lionheart, Theater of Blood is a hell of a lot of fun. It plays like a black comedy, the filming is suitably avant-70′s, and the whole thing moves like a runaway train (104 breathless minutes). If you ever wanted to see what Vincent Price was like when he had a great script, a good director, and was firing on all cylinders, this is the movie for you. (Watch it!)