Blood Theatre (1984)

Spread the weird

RATING– ✮✮

DIRECTOR– Rick Sloane

PLOT– The jealous, young manager of a dying vaudeville theatre decides to murder a full-house of patrons on the closing night. Decades later, a movie theatre chain buys the abandoned building. The CEO sends his three finest (and by “finest”, I mean “least likely to quit”) teenagers to open it once again. Unfortunately, the place is still haunted by the long-dead manager and he’s determined to make life hell for them… he turns off lights, opens doors, wiggles plants, and types encouraging notes… hell!

5 REASONS TO WATCH

  1. “I am the Walrus”-level psychedelia 
  2. Silent movie mass murder
  3. Movie projectionist drama
  4. Haunted typewriters
  5. Movie theatre women’s locker rooms

REVIEW– Here’s the first thing you should know about Blood Theatre… it’s directed by Rick Sloane, the mastermind behind Hobgoblins 1 & 2 as well as Vice Ademdemy 1 through 6. Mr. Sloane is a little like Wes Anderson in that he writes, produces, and directs his movies. Unfortunately, that’s where the similarities end. 

Blood Theatre is a mess. Everything about it is done in such a clumsy way, it’s fascinating. The cinematography, the editing, the sound, the dialogue… everything is just so… oddly peculiar. Like an alien from another planet saw an earth movie once and then tried to make one. 

But let’s move on to the story: 

Three underpaid teenage movie theatre employees are promised raises from if they successfully open a haunted theatre. 

That’s how it’s supposed to play out, anyway. 

… it doesn’t.

It quickly takes on en experimental/13yr old with a video camera/public access TV/Frank Zappa/the Beatles discovering LSD type thing…

Remember those weird episodes of Gilligan’s Island that featured dream sequences? Usually, Gilligan was worried about something, then, as he fell asleep, a wavy pattern rolled across the screen and suddenly the entire cast was in a new situation… maybe Gilligan was Jack from Jack and the Beanstalk trying to save his Golden Goose. Maybe Gilligan dreams he’s a dictator of a small country. Or the one where Gilligan dreamt he’s a vampire with the Professor and Skipper as Sherlock Holmes and Watson trying to catch him. 

Remember those?

Well, Blood Theatre turns into exactly that. Except worse… and rated R.

Blood Theatre has that dreamy aspect to the entire film: Otherworldly sounds, characters behaving as if they are in a trance, objects moving on their own, people having illogical conversations while topless. Visualize the Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour and Porky’s all mixed up.

There’s an episode of Gilligan’s Island where Gilligan is worried he’s killing his fellow castaways and dreams he’s Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde… I swear the director was trying to copy that episode. But it gets way weirder.

Imagine Gilligan and the Skipper as teenage boys working their first jobs in a haunted movie theatre. Now, imagine Ginger as a smart-ass girl getting into cat-fights with other girls every chance she gets (oh, and enjoys taking off her shirt, too). Throw in Ms. Howell as a gold-digging secretary who likes to torture Mr. Howell with innuendo and sexual teasing every chance she gets… you’re getting close to what this film is.

It only takes 75 minutes to play out this weirdness. But there is an even quicker way to get the same result… pop a couple of antibiotics, a swig or two from a NyQuil bottle, flip on TV Land late at night, climb in the back with your head in the clouds and you’re gone… enjoy the trip, Sgt. Pepper.

Instead of a boring slideshow, Jenny decided to make a pretty blouse with pictures from her visit to Cleveland.