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The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971)

PG-13 | | Comedy, Horror | 18 May 1971 (USA)
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A doctor, scientist, organist, and biblical scholar, Dr. Anton Phibes, seeks revenge on the nine doctors he considers responsible for his wife's death.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
Rabbi
...
...
Peter Jeffrey ...
Derek Godfrey ...
Crow
Norman Jones ...
Sgt. Tom Schenley
John Cater ...
Aubrey Woods ...
...
Maurice Kaufmann ...
Dr. Whitcombe
Barbara Keogh ...
Mrs. Frawley
Sean Bury ...
Lem Vesalius
Susan Travers ...
Nurse Allen
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Storyline

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 <esutton@mindspring.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Nine Gruesome Curses! See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Horror

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some horror violence/gore | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

|

Language:

Release Date:

18 May 1971 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Dr. Phibes  »

Box Office

Budget:

£300,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Afro-Canadian composer Shelton Brooks, who wrote the song "The Darktown Strutters Ball" that plays an important role in the film, was born in raised in Amherstburg, the same Ontario town that star Vincent Price spent his childhood summers at. See more »

Goofs

We learn that the doctor's face is disfigured so badly that he cannot open his mouth anymore and instead he has a gullet opening at his neck. However, he could not eat any solid food (since he could not chew it), but he does so in the movie. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Butler - Ross: Good morning Sir.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Phibes is heard laughing after the song and the credits end. See more »

Connections

Featured in TCM Underground: The Conqueror Worm (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

The Darktown Strutters' Ball
Written by Shelton Brooks
Sung by Paul Frees
Courtesy of The Big Three Music Co.
(played during a murder scene)
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Wicked and ingenious
23 September 2003 | by (the rock) – See all my reviews

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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