Film Writing Nov. 2016 – April 2017

It’s been awhile. Work obligations, as well as personal projects and other responsibilities, have taken precedence over updating my blogs. Of course, you can always find me on my Tumblr as well as Twitter & Facebook. Before I let another month get away, I thought I’d finally share an update to the film writing I’ve done for the last 6 months.

I’ve broken topics up into 4 categories (Horror Cinema, British Cinema, Japanese Cinema and Other) since I tend to focus on 3 subjects more than any others. Hopefully, it will make it easier for readers to find what they’re looking for. As always, I write about film every week for FilmStruck’s Streamline blog and you can find my latest updates here: http://streamline.filmstruck.com/author/cinebeats/

ROSEMARY'S BABY (1968)

Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

Horror Cinema:
Devil’ Advocate: Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
Venomous Snakes & Poison Ants: Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975)
A Double Dose of Boris Karloff
The Devil Made me Do It: La Main Du Diablo (1943)
An Actor’s Revenge: Theatre of Blood (1973)

LONELINESS OF THE LONG DISTANCE RUNNER, THE (1962)

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962)

British Cinema:
Angry Cinema: The British New Wave
Losey Let Loose: The Criminal (1960)
Margaret Lockwood is The Wicked Lady (1945)
Equal Shares For All: The League of Gentlemen (1960)

BelladonnaofSadness_1973_bella4

Belladonna of Sadness (1973)

Japanese Cinema:
– Screen Sorcery: Belladonna of Sadness (1973)
Nippon Noir: Celebrate #noirvember with FilmStruck
Everyone’s Gone Crazy: Violent Cop (1989)
Tokyo Gone Gagaga: Otaku (1994) The film is actually an international production directed by French filmmaker Chris Marker but the focus is on Japan

red0

Red Desert (1964)

Other:
Surveying the Red Desert (1964)
My Melancholy Valentine: Dans Paris (2006)
There Are No Safe Spaces: An Arturo Ripstein Double Feature
Adventure in Istanbul: Topkapi (1964)
Joan Bennett: Fritz Lang’s Muse
Stranger Than Fiction: The Baron of Arizona (1949)
Creative Collaboration: Jane B. par Agnès V. (1988)
Adolescent Adventure: The World of Henry Orient (1964)
The Search for Common Ground: A Separation (2011)
Strokes of Genius: Moulin Rouge (1952)
The Future is Now: Remembrance of Things to Come (2001)

2013 at the Movie Morlocks

jfrancoJess Franco 1930-2013

What follows is a collection of links to some of my posts at TCM’s Movie Morlocks from 2013. These are (in my estimation) the best and most interesting articles I wrote last year but you can read my entire output for 2013 at the Movie Morlocks if you peruse the archives. From this point onward on I’ll be collecting links to my Morlocks’ posts and sharing them here at the end of each month.

Rio – Rififi Style! GRAND SLAM (1967)
A Brief History of the Telefilm
Out, out, brief candle: Jon Finch 1942-2012
This is a Time for Ghosts : THE AWAKENING (2012)
All Love is Mad : MAD LOVE (1935)
Does Oscar gold come with an Oscar curse?
Telefilm Time Machine: DAUGHTER OF THE MIND (1969)
Tracing My Irish Roots Through the Movies
The Pulp Adventures of Lee Marvin
Telefilm Time Machine: THAT CERTAIN SUMMER (1972)
In Memoriam: Jesús “Jess” Franco (1930-2013)
Lon Chaney Jr. – Lady Killer
Comic Relief with ARTISTS AND MODELS (1955)
Telefilm Time Machine – FRANKENSTEIN: THE TRUE STORY (1973)
GUN AND SWORD: An Encyclopedia of Japanese Gangster Films 1955-1980
Personal Passions: Alain Delon
Derelict Dancers: Gerard Depardieu vs. Roman Polanski – A PURE FORMALITY (1994)
Hail Cleopatra! Queen of the Nile & Queen of ’60s Style
Arsenic & Ambiguity in David Lean’s MADELEINE (1950)
Final Faces
Francois Truffaut – Friend, Teacher & Film Critic
Someone is Bleeding: LES SEINS DE GLACE (1974)
Oh Dear! What Can the Matter Be? : SO LONG AT THE FAIR (1950)
Telefilm Time Machine: Steven Spielberg’s SOMETHING EVIL (1972)
Four Reasons Why I Love Natalie Wood
Julie Harris 1925-2013: “And we who walk here, walk alone.
The Story of Film: UN CHIEN ANDALOU (1928)
In the Trenches with James Whale
Hollywood Goes to the Dolls
Telefilm Time Machine: SATAN’S TRIANGLE (1975)
Vincent Price Takes Center Stage
Vincent Price’s Small Screen Successes
Vincent Price & Gene Tierney: A Doomed Romance
In the Kitchen with Vincent Price
Adults Only: HOUSE ON STRAW HILL (1976)
Fighting Prejudice with Sidney Poitier
A Celluloid Revolution – James Dean: Ultimate Collector’s Edition Blu-ray
Telefilm Time Machine: HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS (1972)

Mid-Century Living Is On the Move

Most of my regular blog readers are aware that I have another blog called Mid-Century Living where I share updates about my ongoing home restoration/renovation project as well as vintage Americana and other fun stuff. I recently moved Mid-Century Living over to WordPress so I could manage all my blogs easier and wanted to make note of those changes here. I also uploaded some images from a 1964 Sears catalog that happened to feature one of my favorite actors, the incomparable Vincent Price, selling art for Sears and I couldn’t resist sharing it. If you’d like to see more images from the old Sears catalog feel free to stop by Mid-Century Living anytime. The site is full of vintage eye-candy.

A Retro Night Gallery

Vincent Price by SHAG
“Vincent Price”

One of my favorite working artists is SHAG (aka Josh Agle) and he’s created some wonderful retro style pieces inspired by various movies over the years. A lot of his best work takes a tongue-in-cheek approach to horror and sci-fi films so I thought I’d share some of my favorite SHAG pieces during the Countdown to Halloween. Please visit SHAG’s official site for more info about the artist and his work @ SHAG. I’ve also included links to a couple of other artists doing retro-style artwork inspired by horror films that should appeal to SHAG fans at the end of this post.
The Hitcher by SHAG
“The Hitcher”
The Human Fly by SHAG
“The Human Fly”
The Drunken Cleric by SHAG
“The Cleric”
SHAG Collage
Top: “The Impatient One” & “Morbid Cat”
Middle: “The Object of My Dismay” & “Maiden Of The Moon”
Bottom: “Thirsty Like the Wolf” & “Sad Executioner”

Watson And The Shark #1 by SHAG
“Watson and the Shark”
Faster Pussycat Kill! KIll! by SHAG
“Faster Pussycat Kill! Kill!”
Le Moineau by SHAG
“Le Moineau”

If you like SHAG’s work I highly recommend visiting these other sites:
Doo Wacka Doodles with artwork by Belle Dee.
The Art of Stephanie Buscema with artwork by Stephanie Buscema.
Both artists are participating in the Countdown to Halloween. They’re also selling prints of their work & original art so don’t forget to take a look at their online shops!

Film Locations: Kensal Green Cemetery

Redemption I.
“Before the Roman came to Rye or out to Severn strode, The rolling English drunkard made the rolling English road… My friends we will not go again or ape an ancient rage, Or stretch the folly of our youth to be the shame of age. But walk with clearer eyes and ears this path that wandereth, And see undrugged in evening light the Decent Inn of Death; For there is good news yet to hear and fine things to be seen, Before we go to Paradise by way of Kensal Green.”
– From “The Rolling Road” by GK Chesterton

In December of 2000 I visited the UK for the first time with my husband, Andis. During our trip we were determined to see one of London’s spectacular old cemeteries and we decided to visit Kensal Green. We chose Kensal Green for three reasons:

1. It wasn’t as popular as the well known Highgate Cemetery so we assumed it would be empty of people & a great spot to take lots of photos.
2. It contained the remains of some of the most fascinating figures from the Romantic era such as writer and political radical Leigh Hunt, Lord Byron’s closest friend John Hobhouse as well as Byron’s wife Annabella Milbanke and Charles Babbage who was Byron’s daughter Ada’s companion and the inventor of the Analytical Engine. As well as painter John William Waterhouse and writer Wilkie Collins among others.
3. It has an ossuary.

On the day we were scheduled to go the sky turned a nasty shade of gray and spilled buckets of icy rain down on London. I was not going to let that stop me so I put on some industrial strength clothing, wore two jackets and grabbed the umbrella along with my 35mm camera before heading for the tube station. The trip to Kensal Green took about two hours because we got a little lost trying to find our way there (a common occurrence in London). As we reached the cemetery gates the sky began to clear a bit and the downpour stopped. What luck I thought! And then I took a good look around the cemetery…

Overpopulation

Kensal Green is old. Very old. Almost 180 years old to be exact. And it’s suffering from serious decay and neglect. On the day we visited the grounds were saturated from the rain storms which had been hitting London on and off for weeks and you could see many graves that had been filled up with water now spilling their ancient muddy contents everywhere. The faint scent of rot and mildew filled the air. The necropolis was also vast and the grounds seemed to stretch out forever in the gloomy light. Realizing that we needed a little help, we headed to the small office to see if they were open and might be able to offer us some directions. Andis spoke to one of the helpful caretakers who offered us a copy of a crude hand drawn map and some important advice, “Stick to the roads and paths!” The area had grown dangerous over the years and the recent storms just added to the problems. She also mentioned that the catacombs were only open to the public on certain days of the year when special tours occurred. Unfortunately today was not one of those days so I wasn’t going to be able to see the ossuary, but I wasn’t going to let that get me down. There were plenty of incredible things to see on the cemetery grounds.

A Plot in Perpetuity

We heading in the direction of Leigh Hunt’s permanent resting place and began our exploration of Kensal Green. Signs such as “DANGER – COLLAPSING GRAVES AND STONEWORK” were everywhere but I decided to ignore them. I was determined to get some good photos no matter what the dangers might be. Besides the caretakers, we were virtually alone in the place but as we began to wander into dangerous areas we saw a haunting figure in black coming towards us. It turned out to be an old Scottish priest with a heavy accent carrying a large camera around his neck. He was a friendly man but he looked a bit lost and tired. He mentioned that he had been exploring Kensal Green for the past week and still hadn’t seen it all or found the graves that he was seeking. We discussed the dangers of roaming the place in the rain and wished each other luck before going our own way again. And as he waved goodbye he warned us once again to, “Stick to the roads and paths!” To say we weren’t a little disturbed by his words would be a lie. We were. But again, I was determined to get some good photos so I conveniently put his warnings, as well as the caretakers, out of my mind as I headed out into the soggy cemetery.

TheySleep

I started to move quickly because every ten minutes or so a few drops of rain would fall from the sky and I was sure we’d be caught in another downpour at any moment. Before long I was wandering off the roadways and paths while going my own way as I heard Andis saying behind me,”Be careful and watch where you’re walking!” Well, I wasn’t watching where I was walking. Soon I was dirty and mud soaked but I didn’t really take notice. I was too busy looking through the camera lens trying to get a good shot of the incredible scenery as well as trying to locate the graves I was especially interested in paying my respects to. As I made my way up a grassy saturated hillside I slipped. My foot went down deep and taking a good look around me I suddenly realized that I was knee deep in grave mud.

Respite from Flight

I couldn’t free my foot so I called to Andis for help but I couldn’t see him anywhere. Surrounding me were old damp graves erupting from the swell of water. The smell of ancient rot and mildew suddenly seemed stronger and I couldn’t seem to shake the voice of the priest warning us about the dangers in the area. As I struggled to pull my leg out of the thick muck I was struck by the fact that I was truly experiencing a scene straight out of one my favorite horror films. I expected a rotting zombie corpse to suddenly grab hold of my leg at any moment and pull me deeper into the ground as it gurgled out the word, “Brains!” I quickly came to the conclusion that zombies must had already gotten a hold of the priest, which is why we hadn’t seen him again or anyone else for the past few hours. I also suspected that the zombies had gotten Andis. A scream began to rise in my throat but at that moment my foot suddenly started to come loose and I heard Andis making his way towards me saying, “Move slowly, very slowly! You’re surrounded by collapsing graves!”

Thy Will Be Done

When Andis finally reached me he could see the look of panic on my face and knew exactly what was running through my mind. Thankfully I had come to my senses and we both burst out laughing and decided to continue our exploration of Kensal Green. I should mention here that I’m an independent person who often goes her own way without thinking things through properly and I think Andis might have gotten a small kick out of seeing me suffering the results of ignoring all the warning signs around me. But without one word of condemnation he helped me off the crumbling hillside.

We continued to explore the old cemetery for another hour or so but unfortunately we couldn’t find all the graves we were looking for and it was beginning to get dark. We both thought we had experienced enough horror film-like moments for the day so we decided to make our way back towards the main gates. Once there we realized we couldn’t possibly get back on the tube in the condition we were in. We were both covered in mud, dead leaves and the dust of a few ancient Londoners so we asked the caretaker if we could clean up in the office. She was surprised by our appearance so I had to confess that I had ventured off the path and had a minor accident. She seemed to get a laugh out of it (dumb Americans!) and pointed us to the bathroom. I spent 10 minutes in there trying to get cleaned up but I was still dirty when we finally left. I was rewarded for my exploits with a terrible cold which almost put me out of commission for the last two days of our trip and stuck with me for almost two weeks once we returned home to the states (I called it the “London Black Phlegm Flu” and it occasionally returns in the winter transforming me into a hacking beast and reminding me of my trip to Kensal Green). Would I do it again? You bet I would! It was one of the most memorable days of my UK trip and I wouldn’t change a thing. I also think I got some decent photos out of it all too.

Redemption II.

When I returned home I discovered that Kensal Green had been used as a location for some great movies including two Richard Burton films, Look Back in Anger (1959) and Villain (1971) as well as two great horror films, Theater of Blood (1973) and Afraid of the Dark (1991). I’m particularly fond of Theater of Blood and I’ve written about the film before so I thought I’d share some of my photos of Kensal Green, which was used to great effect in the movie. They even re-created one of the cemetery’s most well-known tombs for the final resting place of Edward Lionheart (Vincent Price), which is visited by his daughter (Diana Rigg) in the film. It’s also the spot where my favorite scene in the movie takes place involving actor Dennis Price and a runaway carriage. If you enjoy pitch black horror comedies Theater of Blood is well worth a look. More of my thoughts on the film can be found here.

Favorite DVD Releases of 2007: Part IV.

Favorite DVD Releases of 2007: Part IV. – Top 30 DVDs #21-30

o11
Brian Stirner in Overlord (1975)

Overlord (Criterion)
Please see my review of Stuart Cooper’s Overlord (1975) HERE.

Performance (1970)
James Fox in Performance (1970)

Performance (Warner Home Video)
I spent a lot of time writing about Performance (1970) last year and you can find links to all my posts below:
The British Are Coming to DVD!
Performance: VHS vs. DVD
James Fox: Subverting Sexual Identity & Social Class in British Cinema


Marisa Mell and Elsa Martinelli in Perversion Story (1969)

Perversion Story (Severin)
Please see my review of Lucio Fulci’s Perversion Story (1969) at Cinedelica HERE.


Rika Aoki in Rica (1972)

Rica 1-3 (Exploitation Digital / Media Blasters)
I hope to write a more detailed review of the Rica (1972-73) series in the future, but in the meantime please see my overview of pinky violence cinema that makes reference to the first film HERE.

Kashin no Irezumi: Ureta Tsubo (1976)
Tattooed Flower Vase (1976)

Tattooed Flower Vase (KINO)
Please see my review of Masaru Konuma’s Tattooed Flower Vase (1976) HERE.

The Third Secret (1964)
Pamela Franklin in The Third Secret (1964)

The Third Secret (Starz / Anchor Bay)
Please see my review of Charles Critchon’s The Third Secret (1964) at Cinedelica HERE.

The Face of Another (1966)
The Face of Another (1966)

Three Films By Hiroshi Teshigahara: Pitfall / Woman In The Dunes / The Face Of Another (Criterion)
These brilliant Hiroshi Teshigahara’s films had previously been available individually on PAL Region 2 DVD from Eureka Entertainment in Britain, but Criterion released all three films on Region 1 DVD last year for the first time along with some of Teshigahara’s shorts as part of their impressive 4-disc Three Films By Hiroshi Teshigahara collection. Hiroshi Teshigahara is truly one of Japan’s greatest filmmakers and if you only purchase one DVD collection on my list, make it this one! The director seamlessly weaves thoughtful social commentary into his stylish avant-garde films and manages to mask their origins in science fiction and horror cinema with evocative surrealist imagery. I had previously seen Woman In The Dunes and The Face of Another, but Teshigahara ‘s short films and his masterful existential ghost story Pitfall were new to me. Seeing Pitfall for the first time last year was undoubtedly the highlight of my DVD viewing in 2007 and I hope to write about the film a bit more in the future. In the meantime, please see my lengthy review of Hiroshi Teshigahara’s The Face Of Another and my write-up about one of the film’s minor stars (Bibari Maeda) linked below:
The Face of Another
The Face of Bibari Maeda


Ken Ogata in Vengeance Is Mine (1979)

Vengeance Is Mine (Criterion)
Please see my review of Shohei Imamura’s Vengeance Is Mine (1979) at Cinedelica HERE.


Vincent Price in Witchfinder General (1968)

Witchfinder General (MGM)
Please my brief write-up about Witchfinder General (1968) and the Vincent Price MGM Scream Legends Collection HERE. You’ll also find links to many different reviews there.


Who Can Kill a Child? (1976)

Who Can Kill a Child? (Dark Sky Films)
Over the years I’ve read a lot about Narciso Ibáñez Serrador’s Spanish thriller Who Can Kill a Child? (¿Quién puede matar un Niño?, 1976), but I finally got the opportunity to see the film when it was released on Region 1 DVD for the first time last year by Dark Sky Films. Who Can Kill a Child? did not disappoint, and I was frankly rather surprised by the film’s overt political themes, creative direction and interesting script based on a novel by the Spanish horror author Juan José Plans. Most of the film takes place on a small remote island in Spain where a British couple has decided to vacation. When they arrive at the scenic seaside village they discover that the adults have vanished and all that remains are some children whose erratic behavior hides a deeper and more sinister motive. Narciso Ibáñez Serrador’s direction is really impressive at times and I liked the way he weaved political and social commentary into his script. The film opens with a disturbing montage featuring news footage gathered from all over the world of dead, starving and wounded children that is still startling some 30 years after the film was first made. The director also does a terrific job of capturing the beauty of the the Spanish coastal towns in the film, which stands out in stark contrast to the horrific themes found in Who Can Kill a Child? This unusual horror film is definitely not for everyone and I’m sure some viewers will be immediately put off by some of the violent acts in the film that feature children portraying victims as well as villains. The Dark Sky Films DVD contains a great looking uncut widescreen print of the film with two optional audio tracks (English and Spanish with subtitles) and extras include a still gallery as well as in two interesting interviews with cinematographer José Luis Alcaine and director Narciso Ibáñez Serrador.

Links to the first, second and third part of my Favorite DVD Releases of 2007 list can be found below:

Favorite DVD Releases of 2007: Part I. – The DVD Year in Review – An Introduction
Favorite DVD Releases of 2007: Part II. – Top 30 DVDs #1-10
Favorite DVD Releases of 2007: Part III. – Top 30 DVDs #11-20

And that’s it folks! I hope I’ve encouraged a few people to seek out some of these terrific films. Most of them were released on DVD for the first time last year and many of them were never theatriclly released in the U.S. These important DVD releases often give western audiences the first opportunity to see these neglected films and I’m really grateful for that myself.

Naturally my list is limited by the films I’ve had the opportunity to see and some of the DVD titles that might have made my list if I had seen them include The Blood Rose (Mondo Macabro), La Jetee / Sans Soleil (Criterion), When a Woman Ascends the Stairs (Criterion), Cria Cuervos (Criterion), Sweet Movie (Criterion), Killer of Sheep: The Charles Burnett Collection (New Yorker Video), etc.

It’s also worth noting that my list only contains films, but there were also some terrific TV shows released on DVD in 2007 including Land of the Giants (20th Century Fox), Jason King (Image Entertainment), The Mod Squad (Paramount) and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (Time Life).

Last but not least, there were also many noteworthy films re-released on DVD last year often in deluxe editions or as part of a collection such as The Mario Bava Collection Volume 1 and 2 (Starz/Anchor Bay), Stanley Kubrick – Directors Series (Warner Home Video), A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin (Media Blasters/Shriek Show), Help! (Apple Corps Ltd.), Chinatown (Paramount) and Taxi Driver (Sony). I’ve haven’t had the chance to pick up any of these myself or view them, but they are well worth a look if you don’t own any of these films yet or just want to replace your previous DVDs with these superior new releases.

DVD of the Week: Vincent Price – MGM Scream Legends Collection


The many faces of Vincent Price 1962-1973

The leaves are starting to turn brown and the days are getting shorter. Autumn is fast approaching and with it comes Halloween. This is easily my favorite time of the year and in September I always start getting a spring in my step and an insatiable craving for sweets. This is also the time of year that DVD companies start rolling out their pre-Halloween DVD releases in order to cash-in on the seasonal spirit and please horror fans who have come to expect some extra special autumn viewing. And there’s no better way to kick-start the season than with the new Vincent Price: MGM Scream Legends Collection!

This fabulous collection of seven horror films from MGM all feature stand-out performances from the great Vincent Price and are sure to please even the most discriminatory horror film fans. I’m especially impressed by the variety of films that buyers get in this DVD Box set which contains everything from dark horror comedies like The Abominable Dr. Phibes and Theater of Blood (which I wrote about earlier this year), to creepy anthologies like Tales of Terror and Twice Told Tales, as well as one the most horrifying films that Vincent Price ever made, the classic Witchfinder General. The seven films featured in this terrific set include:

Tales of Terror (1962, dir. Roger Corman)
Twice Told Tales (1963, dir. Sidney Salkow)
Witchfinder General (1968, dir. Michael Reeves)
The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971, dir. Robert Fuest)
Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972, dir. Robert Fuest)
Theater of Blood (1973, dir. Douglas Hickox)
Madhouse (1974, dir. Jim Clark)

The films are also being released on DVD separately, but the Vincent Price: MGM Scream Legends Collection comes with all the films as well as a bonus DVD with no less than three special documentaries about Vincent Price including Vincent Price: Renaissance Man, The Art of Fear and Working with Vincent Price. The highlight of the DVD Box Set is undoubtedly the 1968 film Witchfinder General which has finally been restored to its original splendor and is being released on NTSC Region-1 DVD for the first time. The other films have been available on DVD previously, but some of them have been out of print for a while.

If you’re a Vincent Price fan like myself or just enjoy good sixties and seventies era horror films, the movies in this new collection are all well worth a look and that’s why this terrific Box Set is my DVD pick of the week. The Vincent Price: MGM Scream Legends Collection is available at Amazon and better online rental sources such as Netflix and Greencine will probably have the movies available for rent as well.

Related Links:
Tim Lucas reviews the new Witchfinder General DVD at Video WatchBlog
The Vincent Price Exhibit (great fan site!)
Vincent Price Profile at TCM
Another great review of the new Witchfinder General DVD from Steve Biodrowski at Cinefantastique

Theatre of Blood

Wisdom and goodness to the vile seem vile. Filths savor but themselves.
King Lear: Act 4, Scene II


The cast of Theater of Blood without Diana Rigg

One of my favorite British horror films is the dark comedy Theatre of Blood (1973) so when the opportunity to contribute to the William Shakespeare Blog-a-thon arose I decided I would share some of my thoughts about the movie.

In Theatre of Blood the wonderful Vincent Price plays the Shakespearean actor Edward Lionheart, who returns from the dead to take revenge on his many critics after suffering a lifetime of negative reviews. Lionheart’s desire for revenge is born after he is denied an important acting award by the London Critic’s Circle. When Edward confronts the critics at a private meeting he is berated and humiliated by them. In one final dramatic act, he steals the award and tries to commit suicide by throwing himself into the River Thames.

Much to Lionheart’s surprise, he does not die and when he wakes up he finds that he’s been pulled ashore by a group of beggars and tramps who quickly make Edward their uncrowned king. In a very appropriate twist, the poor drunken beggars seem to appreciate Edward Lionheart and his Shakespearean acting skills more than the educated and wealthy critics who have forsaken him.

With the help of his beautiful daughter Edwina (Diana Rigg) and the beggars, Edward Lionheart feigns death and begins secretly murdering the critics who derided his performances and referred to him as a “ham.” Edward dishes out his poetic justice in a manner that is most fitting for an actor who spent his lifetime performing Shakespeare. He kills the critics one by one in executions all inspired by death scenes from the Bard’s various plays.

The first critic to die is George Maxwell (Michael Hordern) who is stabbed and hacked to death by the group of unruly beggars, which resembles a scene from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. Following that, Hector Snipe (Dennis Price) is impaled on a spear and then dragged behind a horse for miles from a scene borrowed from Troillus and Cressida. Six more murders follow and each one continues to take its inspiration from the Bard’s plays until Edward Lionheart meets his own tragic end in a scene inspired by Shakespeare’s King Lear.

Theater of Blood was made by the British director Douglas Hickox and based on a screenplay by Anthony Greville-Bell, Stanley Mann and John Kohn. The writers clearly had a lot of fun coming up with the creative Shakespearean murders that it depicts and all the actors involved in the film seem to be having a good time with their roles. The numerous costume changes and humor driven story give the stars plenty of room to show off their acting skills.

The movie is played for laughs from beginning to end with Vincent Price giving one of his best and most campy performances as Edward Lionheart. The beautiful Diana Rigg spends half the film in drag and is barely recognizable behind her groovy 70s male garb. Both of these talented actors have called Theatre of Blood their favorite film from their rather large repertoires, and I think it’s easy to see why.

Theater of Blood takes a healthy jab at pompous critics who use their words as weapons to destroy actor’s careers. Vincent Price was constantly called a “hammy” actor during his lifetime and was never able to do the serious Shakespearean roles that he so badly wanted to do. Diana Rigg started her career doing Shakespeare and was part of the prestigious Royal Shakespeare Company, but after her hugely successful run on the wonderful Avengers television series, she had a tough time returning to Shakespearean roles. During the start of her career Rigg had roles in films such as A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1968) and Julius Caesar (1970), but the movies were met with mixed critical response. Fans continued to see her as Emma Peel from The Avengers and wanted more of the same.

The entire cast of Theatre of Blood is filled with great British actors such as Michael Hordern, Dennis Price, Harry Andrews, Ian Hendry, Robert Morley and Coral Browne (Vincent Price’s third wife who he met on the set of the film). Many of them started their careers performing Shakespeare plays on stage or appeared in films based on his work. This gives Theatre of Blood an authenticity and overall sense of irony that’s hard to miss.

The film has gained an impressive cult following over the years and is universally considered one of Britain’s best horror films. I think that’s due to the fact that Theatre of Blood appeals to such a wide variety of film lovers. Horror fans can enjoy the gory murders that it offers, comedy fans can enjoy its black humor and Shakespeare enthusiasts can enjoy figuring out how Edward Lionheart manages to creatively commit numerous murders based on the Bard’s plays.

Vincent Price is in top form in Theatre of Blood and gives each Shakespeare speech that he delivers in the film his all. It’s a shame that he wasn’t offered the Shakespearean roles that he deeply longed for during his lifetime, but his amazing career as an actor did not suffer from it. He brought great drama and tragedy into many of his best horror films and always breathed new life into the material he was given. I think Price’s Edward Lionheart would have made Shakespeare proud, or at the very least, made him smile.

Cinema Retro & Caroline Munro

If you’re not subscribed to Cinema Retro magazine yet, you should be! This great publication from Britain just released their 5th issue and the cover features a nice shot of the legendary Vincent Price from the terrific 1968 British horror film The Witchfinder General (a.k.a Conqueror Worm). Inside you’ll find an 8 page article on The Witchfinder General as well as exclusive interviews with Tigon’s Tony Tenser, actor Michael York and Playboy’s Hugh Hefner. The new issue also contains article’s on the Australian Stanley Kubrick exhibition, Ken Loach’s Kes, John Guillermin’s El Condor and the 1975 horror film Race with Devil that stars Peter Fonda & Warren Oates, plus much, much more!

This full-color glossy magazine is beautifully put together and contains lots of great information for retro cinema lovers. Each issue is a “limited edition collector’s item” and will not be sold on newsstands. It’s cover price of $11.95 may seem a little steep, but the cost of the magazine is reduced if you subscribe and the high-quality of each issue makes it well worth the cover price in my opinion.

Cinema Retro recently announced that the Hammer glamour queen Caroline Munro will soon become a regular contributor with her very own column in the magazine. Here’s a nice blurb about Caroline from the Cinema Retro website:

“Caroline made her first impression on the public by being proclaimed “Face of the Year” by Britain’s ‘The Evening News’. At the tender age of sixteen, she embarked on a recording career and has worked with such legendary musicians as Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker and Adam Ant. Her appearance on a calendar for Lamb’s Navy Rum caused a sensation in Britain and helped ensure the success of her budding film career. Over the years, she has risen to the top ranks of ‘glamour girls’ of the British cinema with an active fan club and numerous web sites devoted to her career. Her films include Dracula 72 A.D., The Golden Voyage of Sinbad’, At The Earth’s Core’, Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter, The Dr.Phibes films and the 1977 James Bond blockbuster The Spy Who Loved Me. She has co-starred with such acting giants as Christopher Lee, Richard Widmark, Peter Cushing, Vincent Price and Roger Moore. Caroline will relive the making of her films – both the classics and a few she would prefer to forget – in her regular column for Cinema Retro.”

Caroline Munro as Stella Star in Starcash

Caroline has always been one of my favorite Hammer glamour girls and I’m really looking forward to reading her upcoming column in Cinema Retro. It will be interesting to see what she has to say about the films she’s made and the people she has worked with.

In the meantime you can enjoy Caroline in this trailer for Luigi Cozzi’s Starcrash. Starcrash is a fun 1979 Italian Star Wars knock-off starring David Hasselhoff (yes, that David Hasselhoff), Christopher Plummer, Marjoe Gortner and Caroline Munro as the very sexy Stella Star. This might be one of the movies she would like to forget, but I think it’s worth remembering.