S E A R C H D V D B e a v e r
Theatre of Blood [Blu-ray]
(Douglas Hickox, 1973)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Harbor Productions, Inc.
Video: Arrow Video
Region: 'B' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 48,145,128,389 bytes
Feature Size: 32,998,907,904 bytes
Video Bitrate: 35.59 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray or Steelbook case
Release date: May 19th, 2014
Aspect ratio: 1.66:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary: LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
English (SDH), none
•Audio commentary with The League of Gentlemen, Jeremy Dyson, Mark Gatiss, Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith
• A Priceless Potboiler: Victoria Price discusses Theatre of Blood (11:46)
• A Fearful Thespian: an interview with David Del Valle (10:42)
• Staged Reaction: an interview with star Madeleine Smith (9:21)
• A Harmony for Horror: an interview with composer Michael J. Lewis (17:37)
• Original Trailer (2:32)
• Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Sam Smith
• Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by film critic Cleaver Patterson and a reproduction of original press book material, illustrated with original archive stills
Description: It’s never been tougher to be a critic than in
THEATRE OF BLOOD, one of the greatest horror comedies
of all time. Vincent Price gives a career best performance
as Edward Lionhart, a veteran Shakespearean actor who, when
passed over for the coveted Critic’s Circle award for Best
Actor takes deadly revenge on the critics who snubbed him.
Lionheart, a veteran thespian who refuses to play anything other than
Shakespeare. Piqued by a circle of critics, whom he feels were
disrespectful in their notices and denied him his rightful Best Actor of
the Year Award, he decides to murder them one by one in parodies of some
of Shakespeare's grislier scenes. He's aided by his daughter Edwina
(played by Diana Rigg, often in fake moustache and male drag) and a
ghoulish company of dosshouse zombies.
The darkly comic and sometimes quite gory Theatre of Blood is a vehicle tailor-made for its star Vincent Price, brilliantly capitalizing on his reputation as a master of period horror drawn from "literary" sources. Price portrays Shakespearean actor Edward Lionheart, who becomes enraged after losing a prominent acting award and decides to seek revenge on the critics responsible. Fittingly, he using the works of the Bard as a guide, basing his killings on violent scenes from Shakespearean plays. Price takes full advantage of his meaty role, ominously reciting classic Elizabethan monologues while rigging particularly nasty torture devices. This hilarious turn is assisted by a colorful supporting cast, including Robert Morley, Richard Coote, and Michael Hordern as critics and Diana Rigg as Lionheart's devoted daughter and partner in crime. The end result is a wonderfully evil lark that, in its own way, proves surprisingly faithful to the often bloody spirit of Shakespeare; certainly the full implications of Shylock's demand for a "pound of flesh" have rarely been made quite as explicit.Excerpt from MRQE located HERE
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
Theatre of Blood gets an impressive transfer to Blu-ray from Arrow Films in the UK. It is solidly in dual-layered territory with a max'ed-out bitrate for the 1 3/4 hour feature. The image is thick and rich with some appealing texture. Colors are heavy truer and there is no noise in the darker sequences. The 1080P supports solid contrast exhibiting healthy, rich black levels and some minor depth in the 1.66:1 frame. It's pristinely clean showcasing some hi-def detail and there are really no flaws with the rendering. This Blu-ray offers a solid HD video presentation.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Audio is in a linear PCM 2.0 channel at 2304 kbps. THere is a lot going on audio-wise in the film and the lossless supports it well. The score is by Michael J. Lewis (The Medusa Touch, 11 Harrowhouse, Julius Caesar) andhas some surprising boosts with attention-getting depth. There are optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.
Extras start off with an audio commentary by The League of Gentlemen, the quartet of writers/actors/comedians – Mark Gatiss (co-creator SHERLOCK and JEKYLL), Steve Pemberton (WHITECHAPEL), Reece Shearsmith (PSYCHOVILLE), and Jeremy Dyson (FUNLAND) – of the titular black comic series which pays homage to Hammer, Amicus, Tigon, and other sixties and seventies British horror. The quartet also provide an audio commentary for the Tigon production BLOOD ON SATAN'S CLAW, and THEATRE OF BLOOD is perhaps even more suited to their jokey interplay (which always conveys an obvious affection for the film and the genre). They discuss how they became familiar with the film, their own collaborations with some of the film's actors (including Diana Rigg and Eric Sykes [THE OTHERS]), as well as shots and lines of dialogue they used in their own shows.
Price's daughter Victoria appears in the on-camera interview "A Priceless Pot-Boiler" in which she recalls that the film was her father's favorite for a number of reasons: the opportunity to do Shakespeare (even playing the roles as a ham actor), getting to work with a cast of British actors he admired (and perhaps believed were better than him), and meeting future wife Coral Browne (who she affectionately describes as her "wicked stepmother"). She describes how the film tows the line between absurdity and horror, and as the end of a two decade era – starting with HOUSE OF WAX – before his rediscovery by pop culture in Michael Jackson's "Thriller" music video and Tim Burton's usage of him in EDWARD SCISSORHANDS. Film historian David Del Valle – whose "Sinister Image" video and audio interviews with the late Price are available on Scorpion Releasing's Blu-ray and DVD of THE MONSTER CLUB – appears on-camera in "A Fearful Thespian" also recollecting that the film was a favorite of Price's for the same reasons stated by the actor's daughter, as well as discussing how Price's horror persona eclipsed his greater range and versatility for the public (and how he regretfully turned down playing Prospero in Katherine Hepburn's production of THE TEMPEST). He also recalls how Price may have relished murdering the critics in the film but had conceded offscreen that an artist needs to learn to take criticism since what they produce is out of their control once submitted to the public.
In "Staged Reaction", actress Madeline Smith recalls how director Douglas Hickox spotted her in the TV series THE TWO RONNIES and cast her because he thought she was a blond (she agreed to dye her hair blond in order to get to work with the caliber of cast in THEATRE OF BLOOD and did not think to just wear a wig). She remembers Hickox as a demanding task master, actor Ian Hendry being famously drunk on set, and Price and Browne falling in love on set. In "A Harmony of Horror", exuberant composer Michael J. Lewis (THE MEDUSA TOUCH and THE UNSEEN) performs selections from the score on the nineteenth century piano he used to compose it back in 1972 and shows us the manuscript pages for the score. He remembers not wanting to score a horror film (he had already refused a Hammer film) but warming up to it when it was pitched to him as a black comedy. The video extras conclude with a brutally cropped UK theatrical trailer that spoils many of the fates of major characters (including ones that figure into the climax).
NOTE: Statement from Arrow: "This morning we were made aware of an
issue with one of the special features (A Harmony for Horror) which
contains some very unfortunate glitches and errors. These issue were
caused by a manufacturing error at the factory whereby during the mix a
glitch was introduced when the data was prepared for pressing. This
occurred after the project had been thoroughly QCed and signed off by us
so we are investigating this unfortunate error with our suppliers to
ensure this does not happen again.
April 26th, 2014
About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.
Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who
focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I
find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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