Cast and Crew: Douglas Hickox (Director); Stanley Mann (Writer); Diana Dors, Jack Hawkins, Milo O’Shea, Robert Morley
What It’s About: When the Critics’ Circle denies Shakespearean actor Edward Lionheart (Vincent Price) recognition, he jumps to his apparent death. A year later, someone is murdering the members of the Circle one by one, with deaths taken from Shakespeare’s plays. Can the head of the Circle, Peregrine Devlin (Ian Hendry), survive long enough to end the murder spree?
Why Watch it Today?: The first murder in the film takes place today, the Ides of March, inspired by Caesar’s death scene in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. Theater of Blood is an inspired member of the tiny sub-genre of black comedies about themed murder sprees, which have their ancestor in 1935’s The Raven. Today’s film is more directly inspired by A.I.P.’s enormously successful Abominable Dr. Phibes, also starring Vincent Price. Like its inspiration, Theater of Blood features Price gleefully dispatching a cast of British character actors and has beens with complicated, themed methods, while an ineffectual investigator fails to stop him, but Blood has the advantage of also functioning as a satire of theater (and by extension film) and acting. There’s also the little matter of the casting of Diana Rigg as Price’s lovely daughter Edwina.