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|Index||120 reviews in total|
This film would have probably been horrible had they taken themselves
seriously. Fortunately, they didn't and, consequently, created a
and entertaining festival of murder, revenge, and Art Deco set design.
Vincent Price is Phibes, a brilliant organist and acoustic expert who's
dies during an operation. He seeks to avenge her death by killing all 9
members of the operating team in creative and extravagant ways. You know
the murders will take place, but you're fascinated at how they are done.
It's like watching a master at work and all of the murders are works of
By the end of the movie you'll find yourself rooting for
Price is at his best at Phibes. Phibes requires a machine to speak, so Price is effectively miming to the dialog, but he does it so well. The performance of Virginia North as the silent, yet deadly, Vulnavia is particularly interesting. She plays the murderer's sidekick and is always beautiful and mysterious.
One of the most wonderful elements of this film is the Art Deco set and costume design. Every scene just oozes with elegance.
This is one of my favorite movies of all time. No, it's not Gone With the Wind, but it's fun and fascinating just the same, sort of a candy movie. I highly recommend it.
Calling this 'Horror' does not make it justice. I wouldn't call it 'movie', either, but 'film'. It's pure art. The sets and art direction are incredible, the whole movie shows the 'aura' of 1920's Art Deco, giving it that 'classy' touch. The script is also very original, and there's even room in it for lots of laughs, without sacrificing style or rhythm. Vincent Price is PERFECT as Phibes, as the other reviewer just said. He IS Phibes, and succeeds where others would probably fail miserably, fitting in perfectly in the 'tone' of the movie. Great direction by Robert Fuest, also. He managed to mix the perfect amount of horror, drama, romance and comedy in a single movie.
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.
There are several actors in cinema that give away terrific performances all
the time...No matter what role their cast in, they're always believable and
impressive. But then, even beyond that, there are some actors who're just
BORN to play certain role!! And that's the theory could be stated by Vincent
Price in the Abominable Dr. Phibes. It's impossible to imagine this mad
murderer being played by anyone else. Price IS Dr. Phibes and he makes the
most of his role here. A truly powerful and fascinating performance that yet
has to find its equal. Even if you're not into horror, I would recommend The
Abominable Dr. Phibes if it were only for Price...it really is an acting job
every self-respected fan of cinema should acknowledge.
But The Abominable Dr. Phibes is much more than just a 'tour-de-force' by Price. It stands as one of the most entertaining and original horror movies ever made. It's an innovating movie in every way you look at it and - like none other - it passed the test of time. The film is over 30 years now and it still looks refreshing and extremely cool. To me personally, the single title also sums up several reasons to proof that horror is the most powerful genre in cinema. First and foremost, it brings together two types of cinema that are hard to amalgamate. Face it, the basic plot of Dr. Phibes is a love-story and a tale about how to deal with the loss of a loved one...Much more than a ravenous psychopath, Dr. Phibes is a hurt romanticist! Secondly - and most teachers will deny this - Dr. Phibes is an educational film!! I guess we've all learned about the Biblical Plagues that overcame the Pharaoh in school, but it'll be much more easy to number and memorize them after you've seen this film. You might even say The Abominable Dr. Phibes is a valuable history lesson. And finally, this movie really proofs to me that horror is the "underdog"-genre in cinema. Do you remember how the plot of Se7en impressed the whole world when it came out in 1995? Both critics and audiences called it innovating, dared and highly original...but were the true horror fans impressed as much? I don't think so because the basic principles the killer in Se7en uses are just a pale tribute to the methods Dr. Anton Phibes employed.
Anyway...I start to sound way too dedicated in my love towards the genre. Basically, what I mean is: The Abominable Dr. Phibes is a perfect horror film and perhaps even one of the most entertaining cinema experiences you'll ever have. Especially when it's your first viewing, Dr. Phibes will be a satisfying purchase. It's a refreshing horror film with adorable British humor and solid acting and directing. The whole thing is just a chain of brilliant sequences. Almost impossible to determinate a few highlights...the entire movie is one HUGE highlight!!
Vincent Price bashers accuse him of being a ham. Now Price was capable of restrained performances, just have a look at 'Witchfinder General', but sometimes his hilarious over the top style perfectly suited the material. This is definitely the case with 'The Abominable Dr. Phibes', which could well be his most entertaining movie. The film was directed by Robert Fuest, who had previously been a writer and art director for 'The Avengers', and it shares a similar camp sensibility, with lots of black humour and some deliciously surreal touches. Price was born to play this role! Later there was a sequel (good), and an attempt to recreate the approach with 'Theatre Of Blood' ( for me, a bit of a disappointment), but the original Phibes is easily the best. Price is supported by a strong cast, including Joesph Cotton (who made 'Baron Blood' with Mario Bava around this period), Terry-Thomas, and Peter Jeffrey ('If...'). Cult fans will also get a kick when they see who plays Phibes wife (uncredited): Caroline Munro ('Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter', 'Maniac', 'Faceless'). 'The Abominable Dr. Phibes' is one of the most entertaining movies I've ever seen. If you haven't seen it before then you are in for a real treat!
Sheer terror doesn't get much more frightening than this. Scare-master Vincent Price plays a doctor who loses his voice in a car accident, but can still speak by way of an electronic device. He vows revenge on the nine doctors that were responsible for an unsuccessful surgery attempt on his wife, Victoria. He, along with his fiendish but sexy assistant Vulnavia (Virginia North), murder them one by one in such grotesque ways as draining one guy of all his blood, attacking a nurse with a swarm of locusts, and giving an attendee of a costume party a frog mask that becomes so tight around his neck that it snaps his head off. The sheer audacity of these grisly murders, along with Price's meticulous and methodical planning, make for a one-of a-kind scary experience.
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
here perfectly in character as a god-like doctor (particularly in the
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.
The Abominable Dr Phibes has achieved quite a cult status among horror
fans, and for good reason; as this is one of the finest pieces of camp
horror ever produced. The villain at the centre of the film - Dr Phibes
- is one of horror cinema's true villainous masterpieces. Unlike many
of the not very well thought out villains that we see all too much of
today, Dr Phibes is well-rounded concoction of evil. He has his reasons
for killing - revenge, his killings certainly aren't boring by any
stretch of the imagination and even the man himself IS horror, as he's
a horrifically scarred madman that can only talk through use of a
microphone connected to his throat. He surrounds himself with horrid
looking camp items and has no care whatsoever for his fellow man.
However, despite all these bad points that the man has - we are still
able to care for his plight somewhat. Phibes isn't someone that just
kills for the fun of it; he's distraught over the loss of his beloved,
which puts the audience in a strange situation as we have decide
whether or not there is a human being beyond this malicious facade.
This madman is played by Vincent Price - who else? Price was born for
this role and he makes it his own. Price embeds himself on your mind
with this performance and it's impossible to imagine anyone else
playing Dr Phibes; and that is a sign of a great actor. Price has
played many roles in the style of this character, but this is his best
and I'd even go as far as to say that this is the quintessential Price
The plot of The Abominable Dr Phibes follows the man of the title as he gets revenge on the doctors that he believes killed his wife after she was fatally injured in a tragic car accident (the same accident that got Phibes his own injuries). However, Phibes doesn't want to get his revenge by any normal means. Guns, knives, axes etc are alien to this man, as he decides to take his revenge in the style of the ten deadly plagues of Egypt. The deaths scenes are ingenious to say the least, with the death in the style of the seventh plague being a particular highlight, which is sure to delight everyone that sees it. The film isn't entirely serious, and is keen to make fun of it's delicious plot. Peter Jeffrey, who plays the bumbling Inspector Trout who is assigned to the case is the source of most of the comedy and steals every scene he's in. The comedy in the film is hilarious and provides a nice breather from macabre horror.
The Abominable Dr Phibes is most notable for it's extreme camp style and has been touted as the campest film ever made by some critics. There is a very good reason for this assessment, as anyone that views it will be able to clearly see; but The Abominable Dr Phibes is more than just a camp horror film. Beyond it's horrors, it's a heart-warming tale of how a man deals with losing a loved one and is actually quite touching because of this. Well, maybe not touching; but the theme of loss is definitely there!
1st watched 12/11/2004 - 7 out of 10(DIr-Robert Fuest): Campy cult classic with perfect performance and role by Vincent Price who does most of the job through his facial expressions and presence. The story revolves around a dead-like "Dr. Phibes" playing his organ, directing music, dancing and ceremoniously killing off the surgeons who failed to fix his wife after a car accident. He uses the Pharoah's curses as the basis for each killing and he inventively makes each one unique and grins and even applauds himself after one demise. Some subtle British humor is also thrown in for extra but all that's needed with this one is Price and this role to make it classic horror-camp.
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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