If you check this site on a regular basis, and I hope that you do, you’ll notice that we have a deep and somewhat obsessive love for Vincent Price. In my opinion Price has been involved in some of the finest movies of the last century and this double feature is no exception. It is well documented that Vincent Price was less than thrilled with the direction that horror/suspense films were headed in the 70s and didn’t much care for the roles he was playing in these films. Sadly for Price, and luckily for us, he was contractually obligated by AIP to do these movies and what we have are some of the man’s finest performance.
“Theater of Blood’ has Price doing what he does best; playing Shakespeare like a seasoned pro of the stage. This is the story of the great Edward Lionheart (Price), the recently deceased and critically ridiculed master of the stage. Unfortunately for the critics Lionheart is back and he wants revenge! As the film rolls on each of Lionheart’s critics are dispatched in very Shakespearean ways. The very strange twist to this film has got to be the use of homeless people as a weapon. Price plays his role with his usual over the top, appropriate style and is as charming and devious as ever before. This wildly entertaining film proves that even by the mid 70s Vincent Price hadn’t lost his touch and is still able to deliver a witty and entertaining film unlike any other. Watch for a small role played by Price’s soon to be wife, Coral Browne.
The second feature on this disc is the equally entertaining “Madhouse.” Starring Vincent Price with an all star supporting cast featuring Peter Cushing and Robert Quarry, “Madhouse” offers up a wonderfully original story of murder, manipulation, and faded glory. Price plays Paul Toombes, an aging horror star famous for playing “Dr. Death”, who’s young fiance is murdered on the night he is being honored by his peers. Following the woman’s death Toombes life begins to fall apart and with it his career. Twelve years later Dr. Death is offered the chance to return to TV and Toombes reluctantly accepts. As shooting for the new Dr. Death series begins so do the murders and Paul Toombes must prove himself innocent and solve the mystery before he goes down for the crimes. Honestly, it just doesn’t get much better than this. Price, Cushing, and Quarry give brilliant performances and the story is top-notch.
Once again MGM gives us a fantastic double feature at a more than decent cost. These two films, like the many that AIP would produce in this era, prove to us that horror can be fresh, entertaining, and frightening without being gory or over the top violent.