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... Written by
Ed Sutton <email@example.com>
I've recently "discovered" THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES, after avoiding it for so many years because of THEATRE OF BLOOD, which I absolutely hated and since the stories for both films resemble each other and that the star of both films is Vincent Price, I had no desire to see THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES. I finally bought a video of the film on eBay (for a buck) and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES is totally wicked and ingenious. It's the complete opposite of THEATRE OF BLOOD, which was nearly unwatchable. I love everything about DR PHIBES. There's almost nothing wrong with it. Everything is excellent: acting, script, set design, music, etc, are ALL top notch (for its low budget, of course). I can't tell you how much fun I had watching DR PHIBES go about killing his victims in morbid but ingenious ways, along with the help of his beautiful and funny assistant, Vulnavia, with everything culminating in a truly suspenseful climax and an ending that left me giggling and smiling. The whole concept is brilliant. If Stanley Kubrick had directed a horror/black comedy, this is probably how it would look like. The sardonic use of music (it's almost a musical). The wicked screenplay, aptly handled and which never crosses the line into all-out-comedy or all-out-horror. The memorable cast of characters (inspector Trout being my favorite). The timing and the tone of the film are near perfect. Only the occasional "mod" sensibilities seen here and there were incongruous with a story which set around the 1920s.
I've watched THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES four times since I received the video. The first viewing experience was, I admit, an experience filled with apprehension because as the film went along I thought it sorta looked too much like THEATRE OF BLOOD (but not as grubby, more colorful. I now realize TOB is a total rip-off) and it seemed slow and repetitive and wondered if it was going anywhere but slowly and surely, I gradually caught on with the film's wickedly fun atmosphere and by the time the film ended, I was totally knocked-out. PHIBES keeps getting better and better with each subsequent viewing.
This film has been riped off repeatedly these days with other horror films like SAW or even a non-horror films such as V FOR VENDETTA. It's truly mind-boggling how often other filmmakers have taken ideas from PHIBES. Also, I suspect Tim Burton was highly influenced by this flashy black comedy. It, at times, feels a lot like a Tim Burton film, but with an actual strong ending. All in all, I have to give THE ABOMINABLE DR PHIBES a 10.
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