Vincent Price

The Lampoons: House on Haunted Hill


Pleasance Dome, Edinburgh

No visit to the Edinburgh Fringe is complete without at least one late-night, mad-as-a-box-of-frogs comedy event. The Lampoons: House on Haunted Hill fits the bill perfectly. Based loosely (very loosely indeed) on William Castle’s 1959 schlock horror movie of the same name, this is a production where audience members are issued with loaded water pistols and ping pong balls as they enter the venue. We are then encouraged to use said water pistols and ping pong balls at certain cue moments during the story, though – this being a late-night, alcohol-fuelled crowd – few people stick closely to the rules. (Although I’d like to point out that, as dedicated critics, we are steadfastly sober.)

Rich weirdo Frederick Loren (Vincent Price, played at one point by all four members of the cast, simultaneously) invites four guests to stay one night in a notorious haunted mansion. If they manage to survive until morning they will each receive 10,000 dollars. That’s about as much as you need to know plot-wise but, suffice to say, much fun is manufactured from running in and out of doors, the donning of fright masks, hilariously odd shadow projections, the eating of pickles (both dill and Branston), the wearing of false moustaches and, in one memorable sequence,  the full frontal ordering of pizzas. There’s more, but you probably wouldn’t believe me if I told you.

The Lampoons comprise writer/actor Oliver Malam, Josh Harvey,  Christina Baston and Adam Elliott. It’s all gloriously ramshackle and exceedingly silly and I guess that’s exactly the point. If at times there’s the suspicion that this could all be a little bit tighter, a little more controlled and that, if the cast approached their roles in absolute seriousness, this might be funnier still, such notions quickly disappear under a deluge of water and the aforementioned projectiles. The cast are clearly having a lot of fun and, happily, so are the audience.

As we join in with that well known anthem, We Are Vincent Price, it occurs to me that I probably won’t remember much about this in the morning… but I’m wrong. I remember every deranged detail. I’ve even got a false moustache as a souvenir.

Full frontal pizza, anyone?

4 stars

Philip Caveney

Theatre Of Blood



Many people have a favourite Vincent Price movie and for me, it’s always been his 1973 horror-romp, Theatre of Blood. Price plays veteran actor, Edward Lionheart, seemingly returned from the dead to enact grisly vengeance upon the critics who derided his performances, each murder enacted in the style of a Shakespeare play. With a witty screenplay by Anthony Greville-Bell and suitably quirky direction from Douglas Hickcox, the movie serves as a spiritual boost for every artist who has ever suffered at the hands of critics.

A superb seventies ensemble cast includes Ian Hendry, Diana Rigg (as Lionheart’s equally unhinged daughter, Edwina) Robert Morley, Arthur Lowe, Coral Browne (or Mrs Price, as she was sometimes known), Michael Hordern and many more, while Price has great fun hamming up some of the immortal bards best-known lines. Newly released on DVD, this is too good to miss, but be warned. The scene where one character chokes to death on a pie containing his own pet poodles is not for the faint-hearted.

4 stars

Philip Caveney