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>
Former "The Who"-drummer, Keith Moon allegedly saw this movie just before he died in 1978. See more »
The organ Dr. Phibes uses is clearly meant to be a Wurlitzer style theatre pipe organ, complete with elevating mechanism. The sounds we hear at the beginning are clearly from a baroque style church organ, which has a different action and pipe rank arrangement. Later in the film the sound clearly comes from a Hammond tonewheel organ with rotary speaker cabinet (Leslie) on slow speed (chorale). The latter was introduced in 1941. See more »
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.
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