Oct 23, 2023

Lionheart Is Immortal

T-Shirt Design by Tom BiFulco
We missed out on the first Vincent Price Twice event last season at the Mahoning, but I'm very glad to say that we were able to make it out this year.

Show banner designed by Andrew Kern

I've enjoyed Vincent Price in everything that I've seen him in over the years, but if I'm being completely honest, there are a lot of his movies that I haven't watched before.  I know that I've seen House Of Wax, The Fly, House On Haunted Hill, The Tingler, The Last Man On Earth, Witchfinder GeneralThe Abominable Dr. Phibes, Dead Heat, and Edward Scissorhands.  That may sound like a lot, but it's a drop in the bucket.  Last night, I got to add two more to the list.

The first movie of the night is the 1964 Roger Corman big screen adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe: The Masque Of The Red Death.  It takes place in medieval Italy with Vincent Price in the role of a rich and powerful Satanic prince named Prince Prospero.  The Prince is throwing a party in his castle in which he amuses himself by humiliating his wealthy guests while the Red Death plague kills almost everyone in the villages that surround the castle.

The Prince has also kidnapped a young woman named Francesca and imprisoned both her father and her lover in his dungeons shortly before burning down their entire village.  He spends the movie grooming her to replace his consort, Juliana, who has not yet taken the final steps in dedicating her life to Satan.

There's a lot more going on here, but at no point does it feel overblown.  The film does an excellent job of dropping the viewer off at the time and place of the story and then immersing you in this world and in the lives of its characters.  It's a hell of a good story that I'd recommend to any fan of classic horror flicks.

The end of the film is a meeting of men in brightly colored cloaks.  Kate explained this to me during the intermission.  Each figure represents a plague that has fallen on mankind.  The red cloaked figure obviously represents the Red Death in the film, which is Anthrax.  The white cloaked character represents Tuberculosis.  The yellow one represents Yellow Fever.  The orange one represents Scurvy.  The blue one represents Cholera.  The purple one represents Influenza.  Finally, the black one represents the Bubonic Plague (aka: the Black Death).

I wonder what cloak color the personification of Covid-19 would wear.

The second half of Vincent Price Twice II was the 1973 British horror film, Theater Of Blood.  I had never even heard of this movie before, but... holy crap!  This was decades ahead of its time.  If you're a fan of movies like Saw and Seven, you definitely should check this out because a lot of the ideas that they used seem like they were directly inspired by Theater Of Blood.

The film is set in the time and place that it was produced, which is London in the early 1970's.  Vincent Price plays a Shakespearean actor named Edward Lionheart who attempted to kill himself by jumping into the River Thames after a string of unflattering reviews and being snubbed at a high profile awards ceremony.  Everyone believes that Lionheart is dead, but he survives the fall after being rescued from the river by a group of homeless people.  He then spends the next two years recovering and crafting his plan.  On the Ides Of March two years after his supposed death, Lionheart begins to enact his vengeance on the theater critics, killing them one at a time in a manner that represents a murder scene in the Shakespeare play that the critic in question gave a poor review.  Some of these deaths are every bit as brutal as anything you'll see in modern horror, and they're carried out in a way that is both gory and fascinating.

If you're like me and have never heard of this movie and you don't particularity care about Shakespeare, I strongly recommend that you ignore whatever doubts you might be having right now and check it out.  It's available to stream for free on both Pluto and Plex.  This is a stone cold classic, and if you have any interest in horror movies at all, it's something that you really need to see!