The Abominable Dr. Phibes
Comedy / Horror
The Abominable Dr. Phibes
Comedy / Horror
Doctors are being murdered in a bizarre manner: bats, bees, killer frog masks, etc., which represent the nine Biblical plagues. The crimes are orchestrated by a demented organ player with the help of his mute assistant. The detective is stumped until he finds that all of the doctors being killed assisted a Dr. Vesalius on an unsuccessful operation involving the wife of Dr. Phibes, but he couldn't be the culprit, could he? He was killed in a car crash upon learning of his wife's death...
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October 24, 2013 at 2:11 pm
An Old-Fashioned Love Story
Vincent Price plays a "dead" man avenging the surgical team that lost his wife on the operating table. Nine doctors in all(one of them a nurse) are treated to nine of the most innovative, creative, outlandish deaths imaginable. The deaths loosely follow the Ten Plagues of the Old Testament, but each with a new twist. The film is an exercise in witty, stylish black comedy seldom seen today. Much of the credit MUST go to director Robert Fuest for his vision of something truly unique: a world in the 1920's with clockwork musicians, 20's music, and beautiful sets and costumes. Price gives one of his best performances in a role that barely utilizes his greatest attribute, his voice. Price relies heavily on movement and facial expressions, and does so wonderfully. The cast is superb with British stalwarts adorning the film all over. Terry-Thomas has a nice cameo as a Doctor Longstreet experiencing a blood donor's worst nightmare. Peter Jeffrey, a woefully under-appreciated actor, gives a fine comic performance as a policeman always on the spot a moment too late. Joseph Cotton does a credible job as the surgical leading physician. Aubrey Woods(wonderful..simply wonderful), Hugh Griffith, and John Cater also lend their talents to the supporting cast. Caroline Munro plays Price's dead wife as well. This film rejuvenated Price's career in the 70's. It is unique, poetic, haunting, and, for me the most important, very amusing. If you lack a sense of humour with regards to the world of the macabre, you might want to stay away from Phibes. It is a very dark, black comedy, yet one that is at its heart nothing more than a tragic love story of sorts.
Vincent Price was born to play this role! Camp, surreal, with lots of black humour, this is one of the most entertaining movies I've ever seen.
Vincent Price bashers accuse him of being a ham. Now Price was capable of restrained performances, just have a look at 'Witchfinder General', but sometimes his hilarious over the top style perfectly suited the material. This is definitely the case with 'The Abominable Dr. Phibes', which could well be his most entertaining movie. The film was directed by Robert Fuest, who had previously been a writer and art director for 'The Avengers', and it shares a similar camp sensibility, with lots of black humour and some deliciously surreal touches. Price was born to play this role! Later there was a sequel (good), and an attempt to recreate the approach with 'Theatre Of Blood' ( for me, a bit of a disappointment), but the original Phibes is easily the best. Price is supported by a strong cast, including Joesph Cotton (who made 'Baron Blood' with Mario Bava around this period), Terry-Thomas, and Peter Jeffrey ('If...'). Cult fans will also get a kick when they see who plays Phibes wife (uncredited): Caroline Munro ('Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter', 'Maniac', 'Faceless'). 'The Abominable Dr. Phibes' is one of the most entertaining movies I've ever seen. If you haven't seen it before then you are in for a real treat!
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Tongue-in-cheek horror and lots of Art Deco...
This film would have probably been horrible had they taken themselves seriously. Fortunately, they didn't and, consequently, created a fascinating and entertaining festival of murder, revenge, and Art Deco set design. Vincent Price is Phibes, a brilliant organist and acoustic expert who's wife dies during an operation. He seeks to avenge her death by killing all 9 members of the operating team in creative and extravagant ways. You know the murders will take place, but you're fascinated at how they are done. It's like watching a master at work and all of the murders are works of art. By the end of the movie you'll find yourself rooting for Phibes.
Price is at his best at Phibes. Phibes requires a machine to speak, so Price is effectively miming to the dialog, but he does it so well. The performance of Virginia North as the silent, yet deadly, Vulnavia is particularly interesting. She plays the murderer's sidekick and is always beautiful and mysterious.
One of the most wonderful elements of this film is the Art Deco set and costume design. Every scene just oozes with elegance.
This is one of my favorite movies of all time. No, it's not Gone With the Wind, but it's fun and fascinating just the same, sort of a candy movie. I
highly recommend it.