Posts Tagged ‘Vincent Price’

Movie Reviews 284 – Theater of Blood (1973)

January 8, 2017

Theatre of BloodThe late prince of horror Vincent Price had a knack for coming back from the dead and tormenting those who have crossed him in the past. He did it in the role of The Abominable Dr. Phibes, in which he took revenge on the doctors who were unable to save his wife after a car accident injured her (and supposedly killed him). As professor Henry Jarrod, his partner at the House of Wax thought he had killed him for the insurance money before Jarrod started creating remarkably lifelike wax creations of his victims. In Theater of Blood Price once again becomes an afterlife tormentor, this time focusing his daggers on a circle of theater critics who denied him his due.

Rejected a theatrical award he believed was rightfully his, Shakespearian thespian Edward Lionheart (Price) confronts the circle of critics who humiliated him and, snatching the trophy that was withheld, makes one final dramatic posture as he throws himself into the river Thames to end his life. But soon after those very critics start dying one by one, in each case the fatal injuries exemplifying scenes from a Shakespeare play. It does not take long for the police detective on the case to tie the murders into a pattern, the common thread being a playlist of Lionheart’s oeuvres.

Luring his former detractors, Lionheart’s kills are as dramatic as his performances, first reading the defamers back their derisive reviews of particular past performances of his which he has meticulously clipped and saved from newspapers over the years. After each scalding review is brought back to remind the critics of their stinging scrutiny, Edward then fashions their impeding methods of dying based on the very acts of death in those plays. With the final recitals exhausted, his doomed victims get their comeuppance in grisly fates that include quartering, stabbing, heart extraction, force feeding, swashbuckling swords, vat drowning, and (my fave) decapitation.

The few leads the cops have in trying to apprehend Lionheart include tailing his daughter Edwina (Diana Rigg) and vainly trying to sequester the remaining critics from opportunities to snatch them. But the dimwitted and vain ensemble each have their vices which, exploited by Edward, are often the eventual cause of their ruination.

The prose of Othello, King Lear, Romeo and Juliet, Titus Andronicus are all delightfully mixed in with a few corny one liners to make this film enchanting. Whether you’re a fan of the Bard or not, you’ll relish this film. Honestly, this is the only way I can really sink my teeth into Shakespeare.


Movie Reviews 258 – The Tingler (1959)

March 10, 2016

The TinglerThe Tingler is as much an event as it is a literal spine tingling movie. Directed by master showman William Castle who was renown for promotional gimmicks, Castle promised the film would shock viewers who watched it. And ‘Shock” them he did, reputedly placing buzzers under the seats of unsuspecting audience members in select theaters at the time of the release.

Given both the title and the histrionic laced background of the film it would be easy to conclude that it would be nothing but more that a humble B movie, created as a quick cash grab and meant to fade into obscurity once it’s theatrical run was over.  But The Tingler should not to be overlooked as a mere stunt and delivers on more than one account.

Dr. Warren Chapin (played by the legendary Vincent Price) and his protégé David (Darryl Hickman) are obsessed with the study of fear and have been researching the matter by capturing stray animals and subjecting them deadly fright. Warren notices that when death is induced by fear, the spines of the subjects are sometimes mangled by an unexplained force.

When not dealing with his research Warren’s has to contend with his adulterous wife Isabel (Patricia Cutts), a vixen who constantly taunts her husband, openly gallivanting every night with other men. Fed up, Warren awaits her one night and quickly dispatches her, much to her own surprise and shock. Having planned ahead, he uses the occasion (such a professional) to x-ray her spine in a series of consecutive shots. What he discovers is the temporary presence of a sluglike creature that has quickly grown out of nowhere to envelope the spine, then receding back to nothing in a short period of time.

The two scientist postulate that this creature, the Tingler, takes form when subjects are prohibited from expressing their fear, the unspent energy thus manifesting itself as the creature. With the knowledge that a scream prohibits the emergence of the Tingler, Warren believes he can capture one before it can recede by having a subject unable to scream at the time of death by fright. When he befriends a tranquil movie house owner whose wife is a deaf mute, the opportunity to gather a Tingler becomes obvious. But how that creature comes about is not as straightforward as you would think. And therein is just one of the many surprises this movie has in store.

Beginning with a somewhat plausible plot, we’re also treated to fairly neat creature look for the Tingler itself. Aside from a few shots where the guide wires are clearly visible, the Tingler looks quite realistic and creepy, and can put up a mean fight. While the movie was shot in black and white it has select few scenes involving blood where the screen is convincingly colored red only for the blood portions. But best of all is that the audience is really thrown for a loop storywise with a well thought out and genuine surprise towards the end.

So don’t let all the silliness fool you. This is actually an entertaining movie and well worth watching even if you aren’t just a Vincent Price fan. If you can get your hands on the 40th Anniversary DVD (shown above), be sure to watch the special features that document the history of both Castle and the film itself.

Hold on, I’m sensing a tingle under my seat! Nah, it just the Black Russian I’m sipping on as I write this…