Review: Midnight Movie Monographs: Theatre of Blood

theatre-of-blood-cover-215x300By John Llewellyn Probert

PS Books, out now

A detailed and thorough scrutiny of this horror classic…

I’m pretty sure it was David J. Howe who first introduced me to this film many decades ago after one of its first screenings on British television, and it’s one that has stuck in my mind ever since. It’s Vincent Price at arguably his finest, creating – as a mad actor – loads of different roles so that he can take revenge on his critics with some scenes that are so gloriously over the top that they feel like they’re coming round again for another try.

John Llewellyn Probert is an ideal writer for this book – his Doctor Valentine books channel the spirit of this movie (and there’s a wonderful treat for fans of that at the end of this) and he’s an acknowledged expert in the field who has the gift of being able to communicate his passion in a way that comes alive for the reader. (Check out his regular reviews of movies on his blog for more examples!)

We don’t just learn the history of the piece, but also the Shakespeare quotes (or misquotes) at the heart of this story, as he goes through the various acts of the film an analyses them. There’s then an extra couple of treats (as well as the aforementioned Doctor Valentine Easter egg), including one that’s particularly for anyone who shares the author (and my) love of film scores – an in-depth interview with Welsh composer Michael J. Lewis about his work on the film with an interesting discussion of the Welsh quality of the music!

If this is one of your favourites, then this is a no-brainer to get you seeing things you’ve not noticed before; if you’ve not seen it, then get it now… and then read this book.

Verdict: As Edward Lionheart himself might say, Still constant is this wondrous excellence 10/10

Paul Simpson

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