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Pigalle slums, Paris , there takes place severals murders . As police
are baffled by a series of mysterious killings . Meanwhile, new Theatre
director Phillipe Darvas (the great Christopher Lee , still
performing), son of the old director, vows to dedicate his life to the
Theatre, as did his father. At the opening night cast party, patroness
Mme Angelique (Evelyn Laye) requests that Darvas give a preview of
coming attractions, so Darvas asks Dani Gireaux (Lelia Goldoni) and
newcomer Nicole Chapelle (Jenny Till who receives an "introducing"
credit) to play a scene from 'The Witches of Salem'. But Dani's
sweetheart , Dr. Charles Marquis (Julian Glover), interrupts the scene
. Once again occur murders , each bearing a trace of Vampirism , being
main suspect Darvas . The picture is based on a real Theatre known as
the Grand Guignol ,it was a Theatre in the Pigalle area of Paris . From
its opening in 1897 until its closing in 1962, it specialized in
naturalistic horror shows. Its name is often used as a general term for
graphic, amoral horror entertainment . A genre popular whose founder
was Oscar Méténier was the Grand Guignol's and original director. Under
his direction, the theater produced plays about a class of people who
were not considered appropriate subjects in other venues: prostitutes,
criminals, street urchins, and others at the lower end of Paris's
social echelon. At the Grand Guignol, patrons would see five or six
plays, all in a style that attempted to be brutally true to the
theatre's naturalistic ideals. The plays were in a variety of styles,
but the most popular and best known were the horror plays, featuring a
distinctly bleak worldview as well as notably gory special effects in
their notoriously bloody climaxes . Some of the horror came from the
nature of the crimes shown, which often had very little reason behind
them and in which the evildoers were rarely punished or defeated. To
heighten the effect, the horror plays were often alternated with
comedies . Paula Maxa was one of the Grand Guignol's best-known
performers. From 1917 to the 1930s, she performed most frequently as a
victim and was known as "the most assassinated woman in the world".
During her career at the Grand Guignol, Maxa's characters were murdered
more than 10,000 times in at least 60 different ways and raped at least
3,000 times .
Terror , killing , suspense , well-planned intrigue and mayhem make up the principal ingredients of the Theatre De Morte . This exciting , bizarre film contains tension , thriller , drama , mystery , plot twists and shocks , including decent scares with tense terror sequences especially in its final part , in a creepy denouement . The movie is intriguing and some moment brilliant, and the players are quite reliable . Eerie movie builds taut by showing virtually well staged killings , adequate theatre settings , unsettling score and evocative cinematography . Although is sometimes slow moving , overlong and stagy , however is entertaining for continuous suspense . Sinister , mysterious atmosphere is nicely photographed by magnificent cameraman Gilbert Taylor , and standing out the scenarios with luxurious images . Suspenseful and frightening soundtrack heightens the suspense .
This flick displays genuine chills , thrilling events , mystery and dark atmosphere and a twisted finale , being skillfully proceeded by Samuel Gallu . Director Sam Gallu, who once sang tenor for Toscanini, and star Chris Lee hurled snatches of arias at each other between takes. Sam Gallu was a craftsman who founded his own production company, Gally Productions, in the 1950's , his Productions included "Border Patrol" and "The Blue Angel¨ . He wrote , produced and directed a few movies such as ¨Arthur , Arthur¡¨ , ¨The limbo lime¨ , ¨The man outside¨ and this , ¨Theatre of death¨ that resulted to be his best movie . Rating : 6.5/10 . The movie will appeal to Christopher Lee fans .
In the dark streets of Paris, innocent victims mysteriously die, having had all their blood drained from their bodies by sharp punctures. A Theatre of Death, or Grand Guingol theatre, is nearby and a great success, thanks in large part to the efforts of its somewhat mysterious, demented, hypnotic director Phillipe Darvas. Christopher Lee plays the director in this above-average horror-mystery. A friend of the cast, Julian Glover, and a policeman, somehow find that the theater and the mysterious deaths are related. Lots of red herrings in this one and a neat, creative story tying up the loose ends. Not a lot of action but more mood and psychological horror. The setting is Paris but you only know that, because everyone has French names - otherwise it seems like London. Production values are pretty good, and the film boasts some fine scenes such as when two actresses rehearse a Salem witch-burning scene for the first time whilst one is hypnotized by Lee and the house of the director is a truly scary place with a very good painting of Lee that has eyes cut out and a back panel. Good old-fashioned horror here!
In Paris a series of grisly murders are taking place, in which the
victims are stabbed with a knife that leaves a triangular wound and
then are drained of their blood. Inspector Micheaud (IVOR DEAN) and
pathologist Charles Marquis (JULIAN GLOVER) suspect that they are
dealing with a killer with vampiristic tendencies. Marquis has a
girlfriend called Dani Gireaux (LELIA GOLDONI) who is an actress at the
"Theatre De Mort" - the "Theatre Of Death" where the principal themes
of the plays are murder and mayhem. The company is run by the eccentric
and obsessive Philippe Darvas (CHRISTOPHER LEE) who becomes the chief
suspect because when Marquis gives him a lift home and tells him that a
knife that resembles the murder weapon was found among his props, he
seemed eager to get out of the car and continue on foot. Secondly, he
seems to have hypnotic control over one of his fellow actresses, Nicole
Chapelle (JENNY TILL). Things look worse for Darvas after he disappears
late one night leaving his hat and blood soaked cloak in a park, but
Nicole's trance doesn't appear to be letting up. Meanwhile, the death
toll continues to rise and the police must either find Darvas' killer
or the true culprit...
THEATRE OF DEATH begins slowly and tamely (in every murder sequence the camera moves in for a close up of the victim's terrified face then cuts away to the next scene). However, it cannot be denied that this is a unique film in its own right as it features one of Christopher Lee's best performances and it deals with an ingenious modern day vampire story, which is far more realistic than the mythical vampires that Hammer dealt with. The film pulls every hokey horror trick in the book such as eyes moving in portraits and the French characters speak with impeccable English accents very much as the Transylvanians did in the Hammer films. However, what makes the film unique is that it packs an ingenious twist at the climax and as a result the film has given us these hackneyed horror clichés, it throws them to the winds and when the identity of the killer is finally revealed it comes as quite a surprise as every one is expecting it to be Christopher Lee's character as this is a part than everyone associated with him at the time. Its not him but I won't spoil it anymore for those who have not seen it! Add to that, all the performances are excellent and there is the stylish camera-work of Gilbert Taylor who would later go on to shoot the first STAR WARS (1977) for George Lucas.
A super surprise! I think I have rather dismissed this in the past either confusing it with the Vincent Price classic, Theatre of Blood or taking average reviews at face value. This is great fun and really creepy. Borrowing a little from giallo, this relishes in setting scenes up and then confounding one's expectations by lurching off somewhere else. Quirky and exotic (loved the risqué voodoo dance towards the end- great bra!) this has a great atmosphere throughout and with super cinematography is always good to look at. Lee is fiendishly good and probably at his very best looking. Set in a Paris within a sensational theatre depicting ghoulish and bloodthirsty pieces we get Lee getting involved with hypnotism and the ladies to great effect. Very often such films, whilst pleasant enough, can slow a little but here we just keep going from one surprise to another. There is one particular scene where Lee wants a young women out of his house and he brings her to tears, rubs her mascara about her face and virtually throws her out leaving us reeling because we rather thought he might take her to one side, as it were! Must see.
The plot centers around the cast of a Grand Guginol theatre group.Guginol
refers to bloody & horrific explotative plays.The troupe is lead by the
& cruel Darvas.(Darvas is wonderfully played by Christopher Lee).Darvas
thinks nothing of ridiculing & humiliating his cast to get exactly what he
Seemingly he has no soul and no regard for human emotions other than acting
A series of vampiric murders is tied in with the theatre group.Is Darvas more than just a Svengali? Is he a vampire? Without giving too much away cannibalism is the driving force behind the murders.Who is the killer stalking the cast?
This clocks in at above average. There are plenty of red herrings but the cast plays it gamely.Everyone has secrets to hide,some more terrible than others. The ending is a bit of a twist.You could do worse than to watch this one.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is a suspenseful murder mystery set in Paris. Christopher Lee plays Philippe Darvas, the director of a playhouse named The Theater of Death. Charles Marquis(Julian Glover)is a crime center physician that becomes overly concerned with a series of murders, each bearing evidence that hints at vampirism. Charles feels that his lady friend Dani(Lelia Goldini)and her roommate Nicole(Jenny Till)may be in immediate danger, because they work for Darvas and suspicions make him a prime suspect. Afterall he directs plays that specialize in death. Very creepy atmosphere and music make this one fun to watch. Lee doesn't seem to have much screen time; but just the thought of his presence holds the story together. There is an erotic voodoo dance sequence that is sometimes cut. Other players featured: Joseph Furst, Ivor Dean and Evelyn Laye.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A troupe of young actors specialize in gory Grand Guignol plays at the Theatre of Death in Paris, France. Said plays are directed by the cruel, exacting and domineering Philippe Darvas (the great Christopher Lee in peak haughty'n'nasty form). Meanwhile, a series of brutal killings occur throughout the city. Is it Darvas or someone else who's the culprit? Director Samuel Gallu relates the engrossing story at a brisk pace, does an expert job of creating an eerie, misty atmosphere, and stages the murder set pieces with a reasonable amount of skill and style (there's some really nifty use of dissolves and freeze frames). Moreover, the cast all give solid and impressive performances: Julian Glover as dashing, humane coroner Charles Marquis, Lelia Goldoni as fragile, troubled, seasoned actress Dani Gireaux, Jenny Till as sweet eager ingénue Nicole Chapelle, Ivor Dean as the shrewd Inspector Micheaud, Joseph Furst as helpful psychiatrist Karl Schiller, and Evelyn Laye as classy theater owner Madame Angelique. Gilbert Taylor's polished, agile widescreen cinematography, the flavorsome period Paris setting, Elisabeth Lutyens' robust, shuddery score, and the rousing, startling conclusion are all likewise up to speed. An enjoyable film.
Theatre of Death is a pretty below the radar example of British horror.
It rarely seems to get much of a mention and is relatively unknown.
Having just seen it I have to say that this is a somewhat unfair
situation. On the face of it, it is quite similar in terms of subject
matter to a Hammer film. But in reality it has more in common with a
super-stylish Italian flick from the period, like the kind of thing
Mario Bava might have directed. The reason for this is that, while it
stars Hammer regular Christopher Lee and has a horror based story, it
is set in chic Paris and, more importantly, it looks absolutely
gorgeous. The art direction really is rather fine, with nice décor and
exceptional use of colours, especially red and black. And most
significant of all is the sumptuous cinematography by Gilbert Taylor.
It may be a low budget movie but it looks absolutely great and that
kind of craftsmanship counts for a lot in my book.
The setting is a theatre based on the famous Grand Guignol of Paris. This was a place that put on macabre and gory plays. It operated for decades and had something of a reputation. Likewise in Theatre of Death the plays on offer are of the dark and sinister kind. We have a nice set-piece to enjoy of one such example, 'The Witches of Salem'. Lee plays the intense, sadistic theatre director and he comes under suspicion when a series of serial killings occur that have all the hallmarks of a vampire attack. From here on in several of the cast attempt to solve this mystery and get to the bottom of these gruesome murders. It all winds up with a climax in the theatre during a particularly impressively erotic voodoo dance sequence. It's a stylish ending to a great looking movie. This is a film that definitely deserves far more recognition.
Theatre of Death is directed by Samuel Gallu and written by Ellis
Kadison and Roger Marshall. It stars Christopher Lee, Julian Glover,
Lelia Goldoni, Jenny Till, Evelyn Laye and Ivor Dean. Music is by
Elisbeth Lutyens and cinematography by Gilbert Taylor.
Out of Pennea Productions and filmed in Techniscope/Technicolor, Theatre of Death is based in Paris and finds Lee as a suspicious and bombastic theatre owner whose plays deal in the macabre. When bloodless bodies start popping up in the area, the police take great interest in the goings on at The Theatre de Mort...
OK! This is definitely tugging on the coat tales of Hammer Horror, that much is pretty evident from the opening credits, but although blood letting is in short supply here, this is a very nifty and beautiful little creeper. More concerned with the mystery elements than scare tactics, Gallu and Taylor soak the picture in glorious colours and Guignol like atmosphere, and with Lee on blunderbuss overdrive and Lutyens' eerie music hovering spectrally over the top of plotting, this is very much a production of some distinction.
Will it scare you? No not really. Is it suspense packed? Again, no not really. But with good twists married to the excellent tech credits, this is very much a horror film for the old classic purists. 7/10
THEATRE OF DEATH
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1 (Techniscope)
Sound format: Mono
Members of a Parisian Grand Guignol theatre fall under suspicion when the opening of their latest play - featuring a vampire - coincides with a series of murders in which the victims are drained of blood.
Timid shocker, the feature debut of noted playwright and TV/radio producer Samuel Gallu ("Give 'Em Hell, Harry!"). While the theatrical milieu evokes a Gothic tone, the script unfolds like a UK variation on BLOOD AND BLACK LACE (1964), in which a series of crimes are traced back to a playhouse run by Christopher Lee, an unpleasant Svengali-like character whose sinister demeanour pegs him as an obvious suspect right from the start (which means he's clearly innocent - or does it?). Lee's strengths as an actor are foregrounded during a handful of scenes in which he spars with performers of equal dramatic stature, especially former singing star Evelyn Laye as the theatre's owner, who tolerates Lee's eccentricities for commercial reasons, and talented starlet Lelia Goldoni (HYSTERIA) as the heroine with a dubious history of mental illness who falls under suspicion when Lee goes missing halfway through the picture (or does he?). Jenny Till and Julian Glover are OK in crucial supporting roles. However, the busy plot is stifled by a lack of urgency in Gallu's direction, and Gilbert Taylor's expansive cinematography is slightly compromised by the switch from formal compositions to hand-held anarchy during major (and sometimes not-so-major) set-pieces. Originally released in the US as BLOOD FIEND.
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