Reviewing non fiction is never easy, it requires the reviewer to be not only have an understanding of the book, but to fully understand and appraise the book in question an understanding of the source material is also advantageous.
Luckily, John Llewellyn Probert's book on the Vincent Price film Theatre of the Blood is not only well written, it also happens to be about one of my favourite films of all time....
It is clear from the first page that John's love for the film and his gleefully playful writing style is going to make this a memorable and enjoyable read. It made this reviewer grin to discover that John first discovered this film on the exact same date as I did. The first time I was allowed to stay up at a Christmas party. John's first exposure to the film wasn't that great, in fact he didn't like it. My first exposure tot he film left me with a severe distrust of Dave Stewart from the Eurythmics.
It's a fear and distrust that has plagued me ever since.
The book is split into two parts, with John's read along commentary taking the lead. Written as a sort of DVD commentary this section is filled with a plethora of information on the cast and crew of the film. Full of insightful, witty observations of the film, it is the perfect companion to one of the greatest films ever made. Despite the wealth of knowledge on show here John's wonderful turn of phrase and almost chatty style of writing prevents this from becoming a stale read. This is how all critical studies of films should be written Probert comes across a like a Mark Kermode you would actually want to have a glass of wine with.
Part two kicks off with a loving look at Vincent Price's performance, John's appreciation and love for one of the most enigmatic actors shines through and is perfectly balanced never overtly gushing, but allowing the reader to fully understand why he means so much to John. There is also a fascinating look at the musical score of the film followed by a highly entertaining interview with Michael J. Lewis the composer of the film's score.
However, it is the final entry in the book that gets my vote for the most entertaining piece. The enigmatic anti hero of Probert's novellas The Nine Deaths of Dr Valentine and The Hammer of Dr Valentine makes a special; guest appearance. Dr Valentine's contribution is just a perfect way to end the book.
This is probably the most enjoyable film study book that I have ever had the pleasure to read, informative, funny and totally engrossing, with amazing production values, this marks the start of what is looking to be a must have for all film fans.
Theatre of Blood can be purchased directly from PS Publishing as can all subsequent editions in the series