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Theater of Blood (1973) - B&W - 105 min

Vincent Price plays a washed up Shakespearean actor named Edward Lionheart, who goes crazy after he loses The Critic's Award. Though the critics think he committed suicide after losing, he is actually alive, and arranges a Shakespearean death for all the critics who spurned him. Great movie, fine acting, and filmed in Britain.

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Theater of Blood
Directed by - Douglas Hickox

(1973) - B&W - 105 min

Part one
Members of the "Theatre Critics Circle" of London begin to be murdered in most bizarre scenarios reminiscent of scenes from the plays of William Shakespeare. The first from "Julius Caesar"


  So are we Caesar's friends, that have abridged
His time of fearing death. Stoop, Romans, stoop,
And let us bathe our hands in Caesar's blood
Up to the elbows, and besmear our swords:
Then walk we forth, even to the market-place,
And, waving our red weapons o'er our heads,
Let's all cry 'Peace, freedom and liberty!'

and before you know it another murder a la "Hector" from Troilus and Cressida


  Look, Hector, how the sun begins to set;
How ugly night comes breathing at his heels:
Even with the vail and darking of the sun,
To close the day up, Hector's life is done.
Come, tie his body to my horse's tail;
Along the field I will the Trojan trail.

The surviving members of the "circle" are beginning to get pretty freaked out and the local police have no clue as to why these murders are happening.

Starring Vincent Price!

The hairdresser from hell!

Part two
More gruesome Shakespearean tragedy befalls the dwindling critics circle with adaptations of "Cymbeline"


  A most incivil one: the wrongs he did me
Were nothing prince-like; for he did provoke me
With language that would make me spurn the sea,
If it could so roar to me: I cut off's head

and "The Merchant of Venice"


  The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes
A pound of flesh, to be by him cut off
Nearest the merchant's heart. Be merciful:
Take thrice thy money; bid me tear the bond.

But in this adaptation Shylock refuses Portia's advise.

Part three
The police finally begin to catch on and through their questioning of the very nervous remnants of the critics group we are treated to a flashback to the night of what they all thought would be Lionhearts final performance from (naturally) "Hamlet"


  But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?

But the police are powerless to stop the diabolical Lionheart and the untimely demise of the Duke of Clarence from Shakespeare's "Richard III" - who drowns in a butt of Malmsey wine.


  I, that was wash'd to death with fulsome wine,
Poor Clarence, by thy guile betrayed to death!

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Theater of Blood
Directed by - Douglas Hickox

Starring - Vincent Price - Edward Lionheart, Diana Rigg - Edwina Lionheart, Robert Morley - Meridith Merridew, Ian Hendry - Peregrine Devlin, Harry Andrews - Trevor Dickman, Coral Browne - Ms. Chloe Moon, Milo O'Shea - Inspector Boot, and introducing "The Meth Drinkers"

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Starring the lovely Diana Rigg! Diana Rigg is best known for her role as Mrs. Emma Peel in The Avengers!

Part four
Lionheart and Devlin parry ala Mercutio and Tybald from "Romeo and Juliet". Not in the street as in the play but in a gymnasium where Devlin gets pommelled on the pommel horse and trampled on the trampoline but is allowed to live to fight another day. A most hilarious fight scene.


  Ay, ay, a scratch, a scratch; marry, 'tis enough.
Where is my page? Go, villain, fetch a surgeon.


  Courage, man; the hurt cannot be much.


  No, 'tis not so deep as a well, nor so wide as a
church-door; but 'tis enough,'twill serve: ask for
me to-morrow, and you shall find me a grave man!

But Lionheart doesn't have to kill all of them personally. No. His deviant mind can stage a scenario where-in one of the critics as good as kills himself through a crime of passion. Edward Lionheart, "Master of Puppets".

Part five
Lionheart dons the campiest and most ridiculous '60's garb in movie-making history (complete with afro wig) in order to bring Miss Moon to justice in the same way Joan of Arc was brought to justice in the Bard's "Henry VI".


  Kneel down and take my blessing, good my girl.
Wilt thou not stoop? Now cursed be the time
Of thy nativity! I would the milk
Thy mother gave thee when thou suck'dst her breast,
Had been a little ratsbane for thy sake!
Or else, when thou didst keep my lambs a-field,
I wish some ravenous wolf had eaten thee!
Dost thou deny thy father, cursed drab?
O, burn her, burn her! hanging is too good.

By now the police have placed what's left of the critic's circle under around-the-clock armed guard but busy, busy Lionheart and his ever-present henchman create a diversion to get to the foppish, poodle-loving, self-proclaimed gourmet, Meredith Merridew, played impeccably by Robert Morley in a scene adapted from "Titus Andronicus".


  Not I; 'twas Chiron and Demetrius:
They ravish'd her, and cut away her tongue;
And they, 'twas they, that did her all this wrong.


  Go fetch them hither to us presently.


  Why, there they are both, baked in that pie;
Whereof their mother daintily hath fed,
Eating the flesh that she herself hath bred.
'Tis true, 'tis true; witness my knife's sharp point.

Starring Vincent Price

Part six
Miss Lionheart manages to elude the police yet one more time and takes Devlin, the last remaining critic, to Lionheart's lair where the finale is played out in grand scale against a vague background of Shakespeare's "King Lear"


  Upon such sacrifices, my Cordelia,
The gods themselves throw incense.
Have I caught thee?
He that parts us shall bring a brand from heaven,
And fire us hence like foxes. Wipe thine eyes;
The good-years shall devour them, flesh and fell,
Ere they shall make us weep: we'll see 'em starve
first. Come.

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Starring Vincent Price

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