Monday, January 31, 2011
Theater of Blood (Douglas Hickox, 1973) -- B
Theater of Blood features perhaps one of the greatest high concepts of all-time; thought-to-be-dead (but not) ex-thespian Edward Lionheart (Vincent Price) begins killing the critics who wronged him with Shakespearean inspiration (he would only perform in his plays). Unfortunately, like most high concept films, the idea becomes tiresome around the halfway point, as each critic is successively knocked off in accordance with the given, corresponding play. Moreover, director Douglas Hickox would have been wise to play the film a little less absurd, shifting focus on Lionheart's sincere devotion to his craft, rather than fetishizing his madness. It becomes nearly impossible to see Price's antics as much more than a devilish in-joke, not without its joys to be sure, but necessarily denying any pathos from forming - jokey, tongue-in-cheek, yet without much scope or resonances. Certainly, the parts are grander than the whole, and in twenty minute segments, one could imagine it being hysterical. Nevertheless, at any length, the lukewarm genre convictions prevent invested interest beyond shifting degrees of amusement.