Theatre Of Death
Theatre Of Death is cursed by association, really. I know I can'
be the only person to ever have taped it expecting to receive Vincent
Price, Diana Rigg and assorted violent Shakespeare-related deaths.
Unfortunately, what you get (instead of the awesome, and similarly-titled
Theatre Of Blood, for those of you
who are slow to catch on) is one and a half hours of un-gory melodramatics,
saddled with a performance by Christopher Lee so bland and derivative
of his other 200 performances that you wonder whether the man only ever
bothers to act in every 50th film or so.
The titles won't do anything to stop your false sense of security, either,
featuring, as they do, lots of photographs of skulls with eyeballs popping
out of them etc (a la those Dennis Wheatley novels of the mid 70s).
"This building, located in the backstreets of Paris... it's speciality
is horror..." Julian Glover's sonorous voice-over tells us, after
we're treated to an unconvincing guillotineing. "... together with
murder, mystery and mayhem make up the principal ingredients of... the
Theatre Of Death..."
Oh, if only. Anyway, on with the "plot".
Charles (Glover - why are they always called Charles?) is our square-jawed,
four-square stiff-upper-lipped, what's-he-doing-in-Paris, English hero.
His girlfriend Danni works at the Theatre du Mort, which is run by a bloke
called Darvis (Lee). At a "swinging" party we find out that
Darvis enjoys spying on his guests through eye-holes in paintings (one
of the few actual times that old clunker appears in a Brit horror,
by my reckoning). Darvis makes his grand entrance to the party after a
spot of fortune telling goes wrong for Danni's room-mate Nicole, and immediately
starts barking orders at people, showing off his very hairy knuckles and
scaring small children with his Noel Gallagher eyebrow-and-bad-hair combination.
Poor Nicole appears to be under the influence of Darvis, and nearly kills
her friend Danni during rehearsals for a witch-burning segment in the
theatre's new show. Meanwhile, Charles (who, it turns out, is a pathologist)
has been called in to investigate three murders, in which a strange-shaped
blade has been used to stab the victim in the neck and drain them of all
As another tramp is offed (the action freeze-framing before anything of
interest happens) and Nicole moves in with Darvis and his amazing hypno-ray
eyes, Charles comes to the conclusion that the murders are the work of
a "haemotaijac" (I'm unsure of the spelling of this obviously
made-up word) or to put it another way, a vampire.
The plot carries on muddling along, with mucho kettle drums and bongos
on the soundtrack for some late 60s reason, with everyone being suspected
of being the murderer (including Charles) before Darvis goes missing.
But is he the murderer, or has he already been killed?
To be fair to the film, it does turn on a rather spectacular twist towards
the end (well, I didn't see it coming), but then ruins it with a huge
and pointless chase. Theatre Of Death is an okay way to spend 90 minutes,
it's just not hugely exciting. For a vampire flick there's a shortage
of actual vampires, very little blood, and not enough of the awful women
in it (particularly whingeing Danni) actually get killed. I'd suggest
you make the effort to watch Theatre Of
Theatre of Death (1965)
Director: Samuel Gallu Writer(s): Ellis Kadison, Roger Marshall
Cast: Ester Anderson - La Poule, Peter Cleall - Jean, Ivor Dean - Micheaud,
Joseph Fürst, Julian Glover - Charles Marquis, Lelia Goldoni - Dani Gireaux,
Leslie Handford - Joseph, Miki Iveria - Patron's Wife, Fraser Kerr - Pierre,
Evelyn Laye - Madame Angele, Christopher Lee - Philippe Darvas, Julie Mendez
- Belly Dancer, Suzanne Owens - Girl On Scooter, Steve Plytas - Andre, Evrol
Puckerin - Voodoo Dancer, Lita Scott - Voodoo Dancer, Terence Soall - Ferdi,
Jenny Till - Nicole Chapel, Dilys Watling - Heidi, Betty Woolfe - Colette