18th May2014

‘Theatre of Blood’ Blu-ray Review (Arrow Video)

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Vincent Price, Ian Hendry, Arthur Lowe, Michael Hordern, Eric Sykes, Diana Rigg | Written by Anthony Greville-Bell | Directed by Douglas Hickox


For fans of classic horror the thought of being able to see Theatre of Blood on Blu-ray is special enough, but add to that it’s being given the Arrow Video treatment and the beautiful Steelbook version and this may potentially be their best release yet. Arrow Video didn’t stop there though, to add something even more special, they went all out and added a commentary track, from a group of horror fans known as The League of Gentleman. Just take my damn money and give me my damn disc.

There is something very British about having a psychopath killing his victims using the plays of Shakespeare. Vincent Price’s Edward Lionheart is in many ways the perfect role for him, and his obvious love for the character makes his performance stand out as a highlight of the movie. Though it could be argued that Theatre of Blood is a silly little horror film, there is a certain magic to it which makes it a cult success with not only Price fans but horror fans in general. The choices of death scenes are memorable, and the level at which Price overacts his performance adds a level of comedy to the film which in some ways makes it feel like an old episode of The Avengers. This is fitting with the inclusion of Diana Rigg as Lionheart’s daughter.

The rest of the cast of Theatre of Blood is also quite special, especially for a horror film. Actors like Ian Hendry, Arthur Lowe, Michael Hordern and Eric Sykes were recognisable big star names in the Seventies and it’s arguable that a horror film would not garner such high-profile names now or even then. In fact The League of Gentlemen do discuss this point in the commentary and note it was quite lucky for the film to get this group of actors, who were arguably a dying breed at the time and gave Theatre of Blood a unique feel.

Looking at the extras for the movie, Arrow Video have once again outdone themselves, especially with the commentary track.  The League of Gentlemen are known for their love of horror and infuse much of their work with it. Their discussion of the film shows not only the level of knowledge they have of the movie industry of that time, but also their love of everything horror, listening to the stories they have collected about the movie and actors really adds to the enjoyment of the film. I’d love to be able to sit with the League and just watch horror movies with them. Once you’ve listened to them discuss Theatre of Blood I’m sure like me you’ll be hoping that they will be doing more commentaries like this in the future (which I believe they will be doing).

Other extras include an interview with Madeleine Smith who starred in Theatre of Blood and a few documentaries that look at the making of the movie, mainly focusing on Vincent Price and how much he loved working on not only it but also in the UK. There is an overall feeling from the quality of the documentaries that they were made with love for Price and his work which really pays off, especially for fans. A highlight is Victoria Price discussing the movie and the importance of it in her father’s life.

Theatre of Blood is one of my favourite horror movies and I regard it as one of the best to come out of the UK in the seventies, this is why I would easily give it a five-star rating, this is even before taking into consideration the extras. The only thing that could have stood in the way of this rating would be bad picture quality. Thankfully the quality of the transfer is as excellent as you would expect from Arrow Video, so there is no worry about that. The fact is Arrow Video have made what could be the definitive release for Theatre of Blood, a film that fully deserves the love it receives.  In my view this is a must buy.

***** 5/5

Theatre of Blood is released on Dual Play Blu-ray and Blu-ray Steelbook on May 19th.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

2 Responses to “‘Theatre of Blood’ Blu-ray Review (Arrow Video)”

  • Bungoid

    The League of Gentlemen also provide a commentary track for the dvd release of Captain Kronos:Vampire Killer (without Pemberton, sadle) and very entertaining it is too. And really funny, especially when Reece Shearsmith gets into his groove imitating one of the main characters. When I read that they had recorded one fo TOB it made an essential buy even more essential.
    My steelbook arrived this morning, so that’s my evening sorted.
    And Dr. Phibes blu-ray is coming soon too!

    • Bungoid

      Just realised I made an error in my above comment; The League of Gentlemen commentary is on the Blu-ray of Blood On Satans Claw, not Captain Kronos.