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 the organ-playing, demented Dr .Phibes - from his base; replete with a clockwork orchestra 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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Dr. Phibes' first words are spoken 32 minutes into the movie. See more »
The Ten Plagues of Egypt are wrongly depicted, both in order of appearance and what they actually were. According to the book of Exodus, the Ten Plagues were: 1. Water to blood, 2. Frogs, 3. Gnats, 4. Flies, 5. Pestilence (upon the beasts of Egypt), 6. Boils, 7. Hail, 8. Locusts, 9. Darkness, and 10. Death of the Firstborn (Exodus 7:14 - 12:36). The correct names are written in Hebrew but the rabbi reads "pestilence" as "bats" and "gnats" as "rats". The first and second plagues on the scroll are moved down to be the fifth and sixth plagues. Finally, the rabbi incorrectly reads the plagues from left to right instead of right to left as is normal for Hebrew thus changing the order of the plagues even more so. See more »
This is one of Vincent Price's performance, and perhaps even his best (although Theatre of Blood is very close). Where to start...? The clever writing (which was lost in the sequel) revolving around Phibes' method of execution, based on the Biblical plagues of Moses. The grim-faced unstoppability of Phibes. Joseph Cotton in one of his best post-60's roles, here perfectly in character as a god-like doctor (particularly in the final operation sequence).
There's also the Art Deco set design which many have oohed and ahhed over in here and elsewhere.
The British cops are a bit too humorous, and there's not really a lot of background here. But the movie is a good example of the "Tales of the Crypt" macabre revenge line, with Phibes' scarred visage standing in for the Ghoul or the Crypt Keeper. Most of the doctors we see (particularly Terry-Thomas) are just the kind of elite arrogant snobs that so often got their one-uppance in such anthologies.
In any case, I would definitely recommend this movie. It's not really a "horror" movie, but more of a "grotesque serial killer" type flick in the lines of stuff like Se7ven.
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