[[quoteright:325:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Theatreofbloodposter_8841.jpg]]
A 1973 [[SlidingScaleOfComedyAndHorror comedic horror]] film starring Creator/VincentPrice, regarded as one of his personal favorites. Also stars Creator/DianaRigg and an impressive coterie of British character actors, including Creator/IanHendry, Harry Andrews, Michael Hordern, Coral Browne[[note]]who later married Price[[/note]], Jack Hawkins, Arthur Lowe, Robert Morley, Dennis Price and Diana Dors, to name just a few.

Years prior to the start of the film, Edward Lionheart (Vincent Price) was one of the [[GiftedlyBad self-styled stars of the Shakespearean stage]], decidedly unloved by the critics of various papers. His performances in his final year, though playing to packed theatres, were panned at each and every opportunity, until finally they unanimously gave the Critics' Award to a new, uprising actor. This pushed Lionheart to the depths of despair, and in a singular act, he [[DrivenToSuicide ended it all,]] jumping off a building while clutching the award which he felt was rightfully his.

The film opens with one of these critics being informed that a number of vagrants have begun squatting on a condemned building of his. Despite being warned by his wife that she had a dream of a pack of lions descending upon him, and the horoscope (for March 15th) claiming that it wasn't a good idea to be incautious, he runs off to the building, where he's confronted by the same vagrants who he was about to forcibly remove - and [[Theatre/JuliusCaesar stabbed twenty two times,]] while the [[EtTuBrute local constabulary looks on.]]

The perpetrator, of course, is Lionheart, who - having [[BungledSuicide survived his suicide attempt]], thanks to a kindly bunch of methanol-drinking homeless chaps - has decided to revisit his last run in the theater... and provide a very ''special'' command performance for each of the critics in turn.

In 2005, a stage adaptation was produced in London by the British company ''Improbable'', starring Creator/JimBroadbent as Lionheart and Rachael Stirling (Diana Rigg's daughter) as Edwina (renamed Miranda).

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!! ''Theatre of Blood'' contains examples of:
* ActorAllusion: One of the eight {{Asshole Victim}}s is played by Dennis Price (no relation to Vincent) who played a VillainProtagonist out to kill eight {{Asshole Victim}}s himself twenty-four years earlier in ''Film/KindHeartsAndCoronets''.
* TheAlcoholic: Larding.
* AlienLunch / ExoticEntree: One critic is [[ForceFeeding forcibly fed]] his beloved poodles, mimicking a scene from ''Theatre/TitusAndronicus''.
* AssholeVictim: Each one of the critics, except Devlin (who might be an Asshole Survivor depending on what you think of his reaction to Lionheart's death).
* BlackComedy: Lionheart acts positively goofy throughout the movie, using various disguises and quotes along the way.
* BloodyHilarious: The decapitation scene.
* BondOneLiner:
** Two from Lionheart: "I wonder if he'll travel well" (after sealing a man in a barrel of wine) and "Pity; he just didn't have the stomach for it" (after choking a man to death with a poodle meat pie).
** One from Devlin: "He was madly overacting as usual, but you must admit he did know how to make an exit."
* CampGay:
** Meredith Merridew.
** Lionheart disguises himself as a campy ChattyHairdresser for one of the murders.
* CantTakeCriticism: Lionheart is an actor who kills the critics who gave him bad reviews, each murder in the theme of a Shakespeare play he was in which the reviewer panned.
* ChattyHairdresser: A CampGay version with an [[FunnyAfro afro hairstyle]] to boot, which is then used to {{Squick}} the attending policeman away from his charge.
* ClimbingClimax: When Lionheart climbs up to the top of a burning building to recite a part from ''Theatre/KingLear''.
* CrazyHomelessPeople: Lionheart uses the methanol-drinking homeless people who saved him as his minions to carry out the murders.
* CrazyJealousGuy: Critic Solomon Psaltery is quite easily manipulated into re-enacting the murder scene from ''Theatre/{{Othello}}''.
* DeathByIrony: All critics bar Psaltery and Devlin.
* DeathByTransceiver: An early example PlayedForLaughs shows up: a cop hiding in the trunk of a car in an attempt to follow Lionheart ends up [[RailroadTracksOfDoom parked on train tracks.]] We hear him over the walkie-talkie to the other cops:
-->'''Cop''': I can hear a train whistle... ''(rumbling sound)'' I can definitely identify it as a train... ''(sound grows louder)'' T-R-A... '''KERRRR-UNNCH.'''
* DisneyVillainDeath: [[spoiler:Lionheart falls through a burning roof in the finale, his body not seen.]]
* TheDragon: The 'Stage Manager'.
* DyingMomentOfAwesome:
--> '''Devlin''': He was madly overacting as usual, but you must admit he did know how to make an exit.
* ElectricTorture: To death, mimicking Joan of Arc's elimination in ''Theatre/HenryVIPart1''.
* EyeScream: Devlin is threatened with this.
* FamilialCannibalismSurprise: Lionheart feeds Merridew his two [[MrMuffykins pet two poodles]] (who he regards as his children) baked into a pie, as a revenge based on ''Theatre/TitusAndronicus''. He then finishes Merridew off by ForceFeeding him the remains of the pies very forcefully.
* FateWorseThanDeath: The aforementioned CrazyJealousGuy goes to jail 'til the end of his days, having killed his wife. (It's implied, though, that his age and health won't let him survive prison for long. [[note]]In a particularly sad example of RealitySubtext[=/=]HarsherInHindsight, Jack Hawkins, who played Psaltery, died about three months after the film's initial release.[[/note]])
* FingerInTheMail: After cutting out Dickman's heart (and ensuring that it weighs exactly one pound), he mails it to Devlin in a gift-wrapped box.
* {{Flynning}}: The SwordFight, lovingly stolen from ''Theatre/RomeoAndJuliet'', which contains trampolines and a balance bar [[RuleOfCool just for the hell of it.]]
* ForceFeeding: Mr. Merridew is forcibly fed until he dies of suffocation... [[EatTheDog with pieces of his beloved poodles.]]
* GiftedlyBad: As part of Lionheart's LargeHam status... but he knows his Shakespeare, and ''did'' know how to make an exit...
* GoryDiscretionShot: The part where a heart is cut out is very carefully blocked by the head of one of the vagrants; the decapitation scene does this, too.
* GrievousBottleyHarm: When Lionheart's gang of tramps rise to attack Maxwell, one of them smashes a bottle to stab him with.
* HaveAGayOldTime: Used for a joke in one of the murders. Lionheart commits the ''Henry VI'' inspired murder (specifically, based off the death of Joan of Arc) in his CampGay hair dresser disguise:
-->''"Spare for no fagots, let there be enough..."''
* HeroAntagonist: Devlin and the police since they're opposing Lionheart's murder spree.
* HighVoltageDeath: Miss Moon is electrocuted underneath a hairdryer by Lionheart posing as a hairdresser.
* HollywoodPoliceDrivingAcademy: The police think they see Lionheart driving by, and immediately scramble into a traffic jam reminiscent of the Keystone Kops.
* IAteWhat: Merridew discovers partway through consuming what he thinks is a special meal that he is actually eating his beloved dogs.
* ImpaledWithExtremePrejudice: Snipe's fate.
* ImpersonatingAnOfficer: Lionheart and the Stage Manager pose as constables to lure Maxwell into the ambush at the squat.
* InformedFlaw: For all Lionheart is supposedly a terrible actor, he ''is'' played by Vincent Price, who while characteristically hammy is clearly giving his all to the many Shakespearean soliloques he quotes in the film.
* {{Jerkass}}: Each and every one of the critics, who mock Lionheart and his daughter whilst they are in the room, proceed to mock Lionheart's death, and really don't seem to care much for each other. When the first critic is murdered, one of them remarks that they've finally a headline, not a byline. Even Devlin, largely the OnlySaneMan of the critics, refuses to admit to Lionheart's genius when his life depends on it, and openly mocks Lionheart when he [[spoiler: dies for real]].
* LargeHam: Oh, ''yes''. One can tell that Price had far too much fun throughout the movie. One critic describes one of Lionheart's performances as [[LampshadeHanging putting him in mind of a ham sandwich.]] (And Lionheart's reaction to that line is just ''precious''.)
* LastDisrespects: Lionheart disrupts the funeral of his first victim Maxwell, by tying the body of his second victim Snipe to a horse and having it gallop into the funeral.
* LiteralMetaphor: "I am sorry to miss the meeting, but my heart is with you."
* [[MadScientistsBeautifulDaughter Mad Actor's Beautiful Daughter]]: Edwina Lionheart [[spoiler: who's really DaddysLittleVillain and is basically TheDragon to her father]].
* MasterOfDisguise: Lionheart and the Stage Manager.
* MeaningfulName: True for several characters:
** Dickman is a lech.
** Snipe is a CausticCritic.
** Larding likes a consumable (although he's a drunk rather than the glutton suggested by the name).
** Devlin is a subversion. While his name implies an evil, LouisCypher type, he's a fairly decent guy.
** And finally, who can forget Edward Lionheart himself, named after two kings of England? No wonder he had a huge ego.
* MissingMom: Nothing is said about Edwina's mother.
* MrMuffykins: A pair of the little buggers belong to Meredith Merridew, though they're at least not too yappy. They meet a suitably awful end.
* NotNowKiddo: "Hey, just go about your normal life, and leave the rest to us."
* OffscreenCrash / SoundOnlyDeath: A cop hiding in the trunk of a car in an attempt to follow Lionheart ends up parked on train tracks. We [[DeathByTransceiver hear him over the walkie-talkie]] to the other cops:
-->'''Cop''': I can hear a train whistle... ''(rumbling sound)'' I can definitely identify it as a train... ''(sound grows louder)'' T-R-A... '''KERRRR-UNNCH.'''
* OffWithHisHead: Done to a drugged, sleeping critic... all while Lionheart was dressed as a surgeon.
* TheOphelia: ''Sort'' of, in that Lionheart's daughter is pretty scarred from the supposed death of her father. [[spoiler: Or, at least, appears to be.]]
* PoeticSerialKiller: Lionheart's kills mimic the deaths of various characters in Shakespeare's plays.
* PunkInTheTrunk: A policeman tries to follow Lionheart by hiding in the trunk of his car. Lionheart just parks the car on a train track and walks off. DeathByTransceiver ensues.
* RailroadTracksOfDoom: PlayedForLaughs of a very dark kind, combined with DeathByTransceiver: a cop hiding in the trunk of a car in an attempt to follow Lionheart ends up parked on train tracks. We hear him over the walkie-talkie to the other cops:
-->'''Cop''': I can hear a train whistle... ''(rumbling sound)'' I can definitely identify it as a train... ''(sound grows louder)'' T-R-A... '''KERRRR-UNNCH.'''
* SameLanguageDub: Jack Hawkins (Solomon Psaltery) had to be dubbed by an uncredited Creator/CharlesGray as his larynx had been removed in 1966 following throat cancer (which makes the fact that he was still acting-- with dubbed voices-- all the way up to 1973 rather remarkable!).
* SamusIsAGirl: Lionheart's lead henchman the British accented guy with the hippie glases, afro, and beard turns out to be his daughter Edwina (Diana Rigg).
* ShoutoutToShakespeare: Every death is staged to re-enact a famous play by the Bard. It helps (or hurts) that Lionheart desired to be known as a Shakespearean actor.
* SmallNameBigEgo: Lionheart. Not exactly a ''small name'' though.
* SoleSurvivor: By the end of the film, Devlin is the only critic who's not dead or jailed for life.
* SoundtrackDissonance: A lovely, calming theme plays while Lionheart and his main flunky surgically remove one critic's head.
* StealthPun: Inspector Boot notes that one of the murders in ''Titus Andronicus'' involves "an old queen" being forced to eat her children baked in a pie. When Lionheart re-enacts this scene, he chooses the CampGay Merridew for his victim.
* StrawCritic: The critics are generally this, although their reviews of Lionheart appear to have been pretty accurate.
** The film implies that Lionheart might be CriticProof, as his theatrical productions generally draw audiences (he doesn't seem SoBadItsGood).
* SunglassesAtNight: The 'Stage Manager'.
* SweetPollyOliver: [[spoiler:Lionheart's lead henchman with the hippy glasses, afro, and beard is actually his daughter Edwina in disguise.]]
* TemptingFate: "Oh, there's only three of us left, surely the might of the British police force can protect us all."
* TooDumbToLive: Despite knowing that there's a murderer out there who's following Lionheart's last season on stage, one decides to go into a wine tasting, asking the officer to wait outside. It gets even more foolish from there.
* VillainProtagonist: Lionheart.
* VorpalPillow: When Psaltery thinks his wife is guilty of adultery, he smothers her with a pillow.
* WhatADrag: After murdering Snipe, Lionheart ties his body to the tail of a horse and sends the horse galloping into Maxwell's funeral.
* WickedCultured: Lionheart, of course.
* WigDressAccent: The most obvious, hippy-esque flunky (the 'Stage Manager') manages to disguise himself as a hairdresser, a wine tasting host, a masseur, a policeman; Lionheart does even ''more''.
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