VIncent Price and the Blood Beast Terror

This remarkable radio play was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 earlier this year – I missed it, indeed wasn’t aware of it but thanks to a very good friend (thanks John) who recorded it, I got to listen to this truly stunning radio play.

The play looks at events surrounding the making of the 1967 Vincent Price classic, The Witchfinder General. It’s a fine movie and Price’s best ever performance but the making of the film was a trial for the actor.

“I don’t want Vincent Price – he’s camp, a parody of himself.”

Young director Michael Reeves hated having Vincent Price for the lead role – he wanted Donald Pleasance but the money men insisted on Price. Reeves considered Price a joke and wasn’t afraid to tell him – this play looks at the sheer misery surrounding the making of a celluloid masterpiece.

Right from their first meeting the director didn’t bother to disguise his hostility to the American actor. Filming started in Autumn in Suffolk – from the off the actor and director were at each other’s throats.

The performances here are excellent – one can feel Vincent Price squirming as the young turk director rubbishes his performance in front of the crew, other actors and even the extras. Of course the remarkable thing is that all the conflict drew a career best performance from Vincent Price.

‘I’ve made seventy five films. How many have you made?’ Price asks the director.

‘Two,’ comes the reply and then the director adds: ‘GOOD ONES.’

Price thinks he is making a genre picture, while Reeves claims he is making a film about people caught up in extraordinary times. Price immediately tries to get off the movie but he is talked around by the production people.

“He didn’t want me at all for the part. I didn’t like him, either.” Price wrote years later. ” It was one of the first times in my life that I’ve been in a picture where the director and I just clashed.”

A brilliant radio play that gives an insight into the entire movie business, as well as the making of this brilliant film and the clash of egos involved.

By Matthew Broughton. In 1967, Vincent Price came to the UK to make the horror movie Witchfinder General. It was the best performance of his career, and the worst few months of his life. This play takes a light-hearted look behind the scenes of the making of this classic British film.

Vincent Price …… Nickolas Grace
Tony Tenser …… Kenneth Cranham
Michael Reeves …… Blake Ritson
Philip Waddilove …… Richard Nichols
Hilary Dwyer …… Phoebe Waller Bridge
Ian Ogilvy …… Gareth Pierce


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