17. Theatre of Blood (1973)

I thought there’d be a lot more Vincent Price on this list, but when I came to think about his films I realised that although I love his performance in nearly all of them (The Abominable Dr Phibes, Witchfinder General and all those Roger Corman productions) there are very few that I actually like much as movies. Theatre of Blood is certainly an exception. The central idea of an embittered old actor taking revenge on the critics who ruined his career appeals greatly, and if I don’t start making some decent money out of writing soon I might just follow suit. And I love the Shakespeare gimmick: each death replicates something in one of the plays. Some are funny (Robert Morley force-fed his own poodles), others are really scary. The scene in which Michael Horden is done in by a bunch of tramps in a derelict building is very unpleasant indeed. Theatre-of-Blood-MainPrice is great in the lead role, with Diana Rigg as a suitably sinister daughter/henchwoman and a great line-up of British actors as the victims. I wish there were more films like Theatre of Blood: they can’t be that expensive to make, you just need a decent, intelligent script and some reliable actors. It’s the sort of thing that, on a scaled-down version, we used to get on TV (Hammer House of Horror, Tales of the Unexpected). But wit and style have left the building, replaced by po-faced realism, which I loathe. Bring back the gaslight!


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