Theater of Blood (1973)

Theater of Blood (1973), directed by Douglas Hickox.

Who is killing off the critics of England in gruesomely theatrical ways? It's ham actor Vincent Price exacting his revenge by "staging" murders taken from Shakespeare. Thought to be dead, he's actually in various disguises, assisted by loyal and murderous daughter Diana Rigg and a team of drunken and deranged street people.

I count eight critics down, a good score. (One is in jail for strangling his wife, Othello-like: that's Diana Dors getting a massage in the thumbnails). It's the same cycle each time with variations: pick the next critic, lure him to the killing location, reveal the truth and perform sadistic execution by some more-or-less textual method, while declaiming appropriate passages from the Bard. When the police start protecting the remaining critics, it's fun to see how our avengers will get past them.

Actors killing critics: that was probably easy casting. It's a combination of British understatement with luridly violent murders and is actually kind of creepy in spots.

Said to be one of Price's favorites.

"You begin to resent an actor if you always have to give him bad notices" -- early line by the only surviving critic. "A remarkable performance. He was overacting as usual, but he knew how to make an exit" -- final line by same.

The DVD is in print; 4:3 letterboxed. Netflix has the title online but not on disc. (Later: on Blu-ray from Twilight Time).