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The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971)

PG-13 | | Comedy, Horror | 18 May 1971 (USA)
2:34 | Trailer


Airs Sun. Oct. 30, 6:00 PM on TCM

A doctor, scientist, organist, and biblical scholar, Anton Phibes, seeks revenge on the nine doctors he considers responsible for his wife's death.


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Peter Jeffrey ...
Derek Godfrey ...
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


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


Dr. Phibes has great vibes! See more »


Comedy | Horror

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

18 May 1971 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Dr. Phibes  »

Box Office


£300,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


For the many scenes in which Vincent Price was required to speak without moving his mouth, he was painted with a substance called collodion which literally immobilized his face. See more »


When he plays the organ, Dr. Phibes' hand movements almost never match the music we hear. See more »


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

Crazy Credits

The cast list is divided into five sections: 'The Protagonists', 'The Girl', 'The Victims', 'The Law' and 'Interested Parties'. See more »


Referenced in Käpt'n Blaubär - Der Film (1999) See more »


Elmer's Tune
Written by Elmer Albrecht, Sammy Gallop and Dick Jurgens
Courtesy of The Big Three Music Co.
(played during a murder scene)
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User Reviews

One of the greatest of the Great
9 July 1999 | by (Iowa City, IA) – See all my reviews

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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