Theatre of Blood (1973) / Madhouse (1974)

The early 1970s saw the decline of the gothic horror film in the face of graphic new modern horror films. Production companies desperately tried to alter their styles but keep the same formats. This MGM double-film set shows how it was possible to do it well, and do it wrong.

Starring Peter Cushing and Vincent Price, and a co-production of AIP and Amicus, Madhouse should be great, with a storyline about death on horror film sets – however the storyline is only good for about 45 minutes and the rest of the film is useless padding with loads of extra subplots that really detract. Not recommended.

In contrast, the independent British film Theatre of Blood (1973) seems at first to be nothing more than a Dr. Phibes rip-off, but thanks to an original and highly literate script, and an amazing cast of British character actors it is really enjoyable and recommended.

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