2022 marks the 50th anniversary of the filming of Vincent Price’s horror opus, which took place in London from 10 July to 17 August 1972.
In celebration, Vincent Price Legacy UK curator Peter Fuller led a special tour with the film’s last surviving cast member, Madeline Smith, visiting all the locations in which Madeline had her scenes.
We started at Kensal Green Cemetery: which was used for three key scenes: the funeral of critic George Maxwell (Michael Hordern), the grisly late arrival of one of the mourners, critic Hector Snipe (Dennis Price) and a scene between Edwina Lionheart (Diana Rigg) and Peregrine Devlin (Ian Hendry). Filming took place between 10-16 August 1972 and involved most of the cast appearing on the steps of the Anglican chapel, while Vincent Price appeared in disguise as the gravedigger who fills in Maxwell’s grave.
Madeline told our tour attendees about her memories of filming and thoroughly enjoyed posing for pictures in the same spot she stood 50 years ago. On her Facebook page, she wrote:
‘Despite the extreme heat, I spent a delightful Sunday with the encyclopedic Peter Fuller on his Theatre of Blood walking tour. It was 50 years to the day (10th July 1972) that we started shooting, and even though this was a joyous event, it was tinged with sadness as we all stood on the steps of the Anglican Chapel in Kensal Green Cemetery (Where George Maxwell’s funeral took place and Hector Snipe’s corpse arrived tied to the back of a horse) I reflected on the fact that all that incredible talent is now no longer with us. I can’t thank Peter and his tour group for their love, care and attention as well as the knowledge imparted re this wonderful little film. Much Love…Maddy xx‘
Following lunch, we took a 40-min bus journey to Putney. Just off the high street is where Lionheart’s lair, the Burbage Theatre, once stood. It was, of course, the old Putney Hippodrome (demolished in 1975) and featured heavily in the final scenes in which Lionheart sets fire to the theatre before taking his final curtain call into the flames. Madeline told us how the theatre was really set alight and how fire engines were on standby just in case the fires got out of control.
Next up was a short bus trip to The Causeway in Wandsworth. At this site, Devlin is knocked unconscious after meeting Edwina, while Inspector Boot (Milo O’Shea) and Devlin’s secretary Rosemary (Madeline) listen to Sgt Dogge (Eric Sykes), who is hiding in the boot of Devlin’s jag, being run over by a train.
Our final destination was Peninsula Heights in Vauxhall. The penthouse at the very top of the building was used as Devlin’s chic apartment and is where Lionheart takes his swan dive into the Thames. Madeline told us that these scenes involved some very long days, and she had some very interesting memories of what happened during filming.
Here’s what some of our attendees had to say about the tour:
‘Thanks for a fantastic day. The tour was brilliant &
very enlightening & Maddie was absolutely lovely’
‘Thanks, Peter, for organising. We both loved it. And Maddie was great’
‘Hi there, Peter, just a quick message to re-emphasise what a brilliant day I had today. It was great meeting you, and it was a very informative and interesting tour. Look forward to the next event’
‘I’ve been on this tour, and it’s great. TOB was actually one of the first films I saw with Ian Hendry. I later wrote his biography, Send in the Clowns‘