Theatre of Blood 1973 ****


Everyone’s a critic, or at least, that’s how it seems to veteran actor Edward Lionheart (Vincent Price) in Douglas Hickox’s celebrated slice of Grand Guiginol. Lionheart is angry at the kind of reviews he gets, and decides to take revenge on the Theatre Critics Guild with the aid of his daughter Edwina (Diana Rigg), who seemingly disguises herself as Jeff Lynne from the Electric Light Orchestra to do his bidding. The critics themselves are a wonderfully cast bunch, all destined to be offed in a bloody fashion determined by the works of Shakespeare. Dennis Price, Arthur Lowe, Jack Hawkins, Robert Morley, Harry Andrews and Ian Hendry are amongst the victims, and there’s also time for such diversions as a sword-fight on trampolines. The neat idea is something of a precursor of both Paddington 2 and Se7en, although David Fincher probably wouldn’t have much time for a comic detective duo of Milo O’Shea and Eric Sykes. Michael J Lewis contributes beautiful, lush music that underscores the melancholy of the conceit; Theatre of Blood is a fun romp that proves that black comedy can work with the right, light touch.


Journey to the Far Side of the Sun 1969 ****


The late 1960’s saw the Twilight Zone twists of the popular tv show translate to the big screen; high concept sci-fi, from 2001 to Planet of the Apes was a big deal, and Gerry and Sylvia Anderson made their pitch with Doppleganger aka Journey To The Far Side of the Sun. The idea is great; a mirror image of Earth is discovered on the other wise of the sun, and astronaut Colonel Glenn Ross (Roy Thinnes) is dispatched by the European Space Exploration Council to investigate. He realises on arrival that in the mirror image world, the other Colonel Glenn Ross has just left, and resolves to return to Earth. Journey To The Far Side of the Sun has an incredibly downbeat ending, but it’s a lot of fun getting to that point, especially when Ross wakes up in the world where everything is exactly a mirror image. When shown on UK TV, some enterprising talent decided that the mirror image scenes must have been wrongly processed and reversed them for broadcast, making Robert Parish’s film something of a conundrum for the unwary. Whichever way you look at it, the support from Herbert Lom, Patrick Wymark, George Sewell and Ian Hendry is impeccable.