For the past three years, I have been conducting tours of the many London locations used in Theatre of Blood with the assistance of Mike Grant, who hosts the Theatre of Blood Facebook group page, and it has become a fantastic day out criss-crossing London with fans of the black comedy starring Vincent Price and some of Britain’s finest thespians.
From Kensal Green Cemetery to the banks of the Thames in Putney, we have uncovered nearly ever single location used, but two have eluded us – the infamous decapitation scene in which Arthur Lowe loses his head, and a scene in which one of the meths drinkers is interrogated.
Thanks to some expert sleuthing from Rick Squires, who curates the Vincent Price Exhibit, we learned that Lowe’s scenes were shot in Room 103 at Oakley Court in Windsor: a suitably evocative gothic mansion that has been used in many a classic British horror (and non-horror) film, with quite a few by Hammer (whose Bray Film Studios were situated just down the road), as well as Richard O’Brien’s cult hit, Rocky Horror Picture Show.
With that knowledge, I decided to organise a day out to Oakley Court, with the added attraction of hiring boats to view what is left of Bray Film Studios which is currently lying derelict, awaiting planning permission to be turned into luxury apartments. But the big surprise for those attending was that they would be able to view the infamous Room 103.
Thanks to Andy Ellis, a dedicated film location expert who had booked the room for the night, our group were able to access the room, where much of the furniture has not changed for over 40 years.
The group also got a further surprise when Andy donned scrubs to give his rendition of Vincent Price’s Dr Hypo – aka Edward Lionheart doing Shakespeare’s Cymberline as it had never been played before. And it also gave me a chance to play dead…
It turned out to be a great day – despite the typical British summer weather (yes, it was wet) – where we got to explore a place that has a deep connection with British film in general. The namecheck of the stars who have filmed at Oakley Court is endless – with those kings of horror Vincent Price, Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee and Boris Karloff being the icing on the gothic horror cake.
The outpouring of thank you’s on the Theatre of Blood and Vincent Price Legacy UK Facebook pages following the day has been really touching and the pictures that were taken are a real hoot (check them out by clicking on the photos, and also here).
Below are a handful of comments which I am hugely thankful for as they really make organising these events so worthwhile. Thank you everyone!
‘A mind blowing day thanks for organising it Peter!’ Merlyn Roberts
‘The best Saturday this year!!!’ Jason D. Brawn
‘An amazing day spent with the most awesome friends’ Alan Hoare
‘It was a fantastic day! Thanks Pete and Andy’ Roni Romero
‘Wow!!! We had such a fantastic day yesterday!!! Thank you so much to all the amazing people there, who made it very special. Most of all Peter Fuller for organising everything for us! you are a complete gent!!!’ Selene Paxton-Brooks
‘Many, many thanks to Peter and Andy for a splendid day and everyone else for being so very friendly and sporting on my first legacy jaunt. Oakley Court well surpassed my expectations – it’s really stunning and still has a powerfully magic effect. The interior wasn’t too messed around with either – it still has a grand gothic style & ambience, while Room 103 is truly to die for! Great to see Bray – dog-eared as it is – and explore film locations via Windsor alleyways.’ Paul Houghton
‘Thank you so much Andy, a great day and your film knowledge is inspirational. Room 103 was an absolute hoot.’ Stuart Carroll
AND A WORD FROM ANDY…
‘I’d like to say a huge thank-you to all the people involved in making last Saturday so special. I had an awesome time, and have masses of very happy memories (and photos!). It was great to meet old and new friends, and to finally see some people who have only been Facebook Friends up till now, and to capture yet more location shots (particularly in rooms that are not always accessible). I loved the boat trip to Bray Studios and really enjoyed showing fellow fans around, especially inside room 103. The biggest thanks have to go to Peter – if you hadn’t found the publicity shot of VP outside the hotel, we’d never have discovered the Oakley Court bedroom (via Rick Squires’ detective work), and your planning the whole event and organisation of the itinerary, the transport, boat hire and room rota were so efficient.’ Andy Ellis