The greatest Shakespearian actor who ever lived is defamed by critics, those bottom-feeding scum who having failed to create anything themselves gain notoriety by tearing down the work of real artists. But Edward Lionheart is as flamoyant a murderer as an actor, and they finally get what they deserve. Rather more than they deserve even.

This is the best horror movie ever by the way.

hey cool
Vincent Price is god
but YUCK
That one smug critic...

When I was young (it could happen) I lived for many years in a town where the local station played this movie every Halloween at midnight. I believe that's where it all started for me. A feeling grew, something so primordially and pathologically correct about Halloween horror. I slowly began to anticipate that feeling, and want it more and more until I finally realised it was the very best feeling. I'm saying Theatre of Blood changed my life.

So yeah this is my favourite movie. I believe it was also Mr Price's favourite, and it's not even arguably his finest film and performance. Not all Vincent Price movies are that great - there's a lot of stuff like Diary of a Madman or The Oblong Box in which he's just a guy delivering generic movie dialogue, albeit well, but when allowed to do what he was the undisputed master of the effect is spellbinding and transcends mere acting.

Vincent Price literally does not say a commonplace thing in this movie. The monologues are like music, or dare I say theatre, and run the gamut of all the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune (sorry the movie makes me want to say everything like a ham actor) - sinister, triumphant, brooding, poignant, mocking, despair, and the blackest of humour. The scene of Lionheart performing Shakespeare as his throng of "meths drinkers" grovel and swill mindlessly is so beautifully broken I'm laughing and crying at once.

This would be a great film even if all he did was talk, but he also kills people, and how. From the groping, grunting mob violence of his tramp gang to amputating a man's head in his sleep, this is all the things we wanted to happen to Siskel and Ebert. As much as I love the bizarre whimsy of the Phibes movies, there's an authenticity and brutality to the murders here that enters the realm of dark horror. This is blood soaked Phibes, and I don't know what could be better than that.

But it's a great movie even if you're not some weirdo fanboy who thinks it was made specifically for him. Brilliantly directed, great actors like Harry Andrews and Diana Rigg, for whom the word "dishy" must have been invented, a beautiful score that actually brings a tear to my eye (yeah big 'ol tough me). What kind of sicko doesn't want to see Robert Morley fed to death on his own poodles? Genuinely sad, savage and even a little funny, and ends like all our lives should end - with a dramatic fiery plunge from atop a burning theatre.

My last few Samhains have been pretty shitty. They're getting to be less spooky fun and more like something Lionheart would bitterly muse from the shadows of a stage balcony. But it's midnight and it's Halloween shipmates, and I'm getting a familiar old feeling.