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|Index||123 reviews in total|
THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES is a superb stylish movie that definitely
ranks amongst the best of Vincent Price's work. May he rest in peace
for delivering such an emotionally moving piece of entertainment.
The most effective and indeed creative idea at work here is the presentation of the movie. Its theme is difficult to decipher in precise terms. Some will see it as a horror movie. Some will see it as a dark comedy. Some will see it as a typical revenge epic. And others will recognise a tragic love story.
The plot of the movie can be summed up without giving away spoilers - Dr. Phibes was involved in a car accident during which he lost his ability to speak. His wife dies following an unsuccessful surgical operation. Dr. Phibes then decides to take revenge on the doctors whom he considers responsible for her death. A series of murders based off the biblical plagues takes place leaving local police baffled.
Whilst the plot on paper sounds very disturbing, the execution is done in a very light-hearted, almost comical, tone. This is supported by a very uplifting musical score. Most of the gore effects are left to the imagination rather than being presented on the screen. Violence is very subtle and hardly any overt violence is shown. As such, the movie gained a mere "PG" rating from the MPAA. The virtual absence of gore works heavily in the movie's favour by enabling it to retain a light tone that ensures the movie never becomes unwatchable.
Some creativity is used during the execution of the murder scenes, providing obvious inspiration for the producers of THEATRE OF BLOOD, another Vincent Price movie with a similar theme. In addition, THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES plays a part in setting standards for the slasher movies of the 1980s as far as creativity goes. It has to be said however, that the movies of that decade, many of which are highly entertaining, are not nearly as stylish or classy as this movie.
A very carefully crafted screenplay ensures the movie plays with the mind of its audience. Many will be confused as to whether they should sympathise with Dr. Phibes or his victims. Whilst Dr. Phibes commits gruesome murders without repentance, he shows a very loving side as he plays his organ whilst constantly thinking about his deceased wife. Vincent Price delivers a superb performance that really touches upon the emotions of the viewers during these scenes.
Also worthy of mention is Joseph Cotten, who steps in for Peter Cushing (who turned down the role), as Dr. Vesalius, the lead doctor performing the surgical operation on Phibes's late wife. Joseph Cotten is given some very emotional scenes to work with, which he places to perfection and mirrors those where Dr. Phibes reminisces over his deceased wife.
The actors playing the victims also deliver superb performances. The movie particularly makes effective use of Terry-Thomas, a comic actor well known to British audiences at the time.
Special kudos should be given to the excellent Peter Jeffrey, who adds plenty of comical moments to the movie as the police inspector assigned to investigate the murders. He is given superb support by John Cater, a very unknown actor, who steals every scene he's in with perfect glee as the police superintendent constantly on the backs of the officers below him. Both of these actors reprise their roles in the sequel, DR. PHIBES RISES AGAIN.
Let's not forget Virginia North, who plays Phibes's assistant, Vulnavia. Vulnavia is shown to be a mute, who never speaks. But due to a superb performance by the actress, we can read her thoughts through her facial expressions. This is a very difficult role to pull off, but she does it to perfection.
Ultimately, THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES is successful due to an excellent combination of suspense, dark humour, superb acting performances from all concerned, very emotionally touching scenes, creativity, intelligent witty scripting and stylish execution of the whole product.
I can definitely recommend this for fans of Vincent Price.
A neatly stylized thriller. It's great to see Vincent Price with an
altered screen presence - in this film, he plays a mad doctor who has
adapted his way of speaking following a disabling accident. Mr. Price
is a delight to watch, always; but, "The Abominable Dr. Phibes" gives
Price a new way to display his acting skills. In an interesting
parallel, his beautiful assistant is even more mute than the mad
The way and manner of mass-murdering is very interesting and novel. I found the "locust" a little weaker than the others. I also could have stood a little more suspense between the crimes; but, it might have taken a better criminologist to keep the hunt interesting. Even so, it's an excellent thriller and one of Price's greatest characterizations.
******** The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971) Robert Fuest ~ Vincent Price, Joseph Cotten, Virginia North
Vincent Price is, of course, loved by horror fans for a number of
fantastic performances. It would be hard to pick a definitive favourite
from his movies but if you ask any horror fan to compile a Top 10 of
Vincent Price movies then I'd put good money on the fact that The
Abominable Dr. Phibes would appear on such a list. It's a film that
mixes horror, humour and style in equal measure all centred by yet
another superb central performance from Price.
Our legendary leading man plays the titular character, as if you had any doubt, and is out to avenge the loss of a loved one. He does this by, of course, killing those he deems responsible in a style replicating the Plagues of Egypt. The main target would seem to be Dr. Vesalius (Joseph Cotten) but there are many others to be dealt with before the big finale comes around. And poor Inspector Trout (Peter Jeffrey) always seems to be one or two steps behind the abominable killer.
Directed by Robert Fuest, and written by James Whiton and William Goldstein, The Abominable Dr. Phibes is just a nonstop mix of macabre humour and entertaining death sequences. It's what you might call delicious and delirious stuff. Vincent Price has to talk through a gadget that he holds to his throat (moving only his throat and not his lips) and does this, usually, when lamenting the loss of his beautiful wife (an uncredited and beautiful Caroline Munro). There's a typically charmingly cheeky turn from Terry-Thomas. Each death seems to get more and more complex and ridiculous with the plague of locusts proving a particularly hilarious and unbelievable scene.
Everyone on screen goes along with the macabre fun and they are well rewarded by the creation of a movie that genre fans should embrace with affection and hold close to their horror-loving bosoms. It never outstays it's welcome and even has a decent sequel for those who want a little bit more.
Vincent Price plays Dr. Phibes, a man bent on seeking vengeance (of biblical proportions!) against each member of the surgical team that was operating on his wife when she died. I cannot express how much I adore this movie. It is an almost surreal, vicious (yet amusing) film with my favorite performance ever by Price. He plays Phibes as creepy and ruthless, but also sympathetic and poetic. That may translate as "hammy" to some, but I thought his performance was ace. The quirky set design, extravagant costumes, and Phibes' "band" and organ playing add to the playfully creepy tone. The murder sequences are surprisingly gruesome and wicked, making contemporary thrillers like "Seven" and "Saw" come across as not so original. And I cannot forget my favorite character, Phibes' lovely assistant, Vulnavia. She has to be one of the most eccentric characters I've seen: she doesn't speak, she wears elaborate dresses and headpieces, and she is often seen flitting across the dancefloor with Phibes or playing violin during the murder sequences. I'm not sure everyone would appreciate this movie, but it is definitely a favorite of mine.
During the few years when Vincent Price made a lot of movies in
England, one of the coolest ones was "The Abominable Dr. Phibes". They
let Price be as campy as he wants, as a dead-alive guy using the
Passover curses to take revenge on the physicians who couldn't save his
wife. Price tread a slightly similar path in "Theater of Blood", that
time using scenes from Shakespeare plays to take people out.
But this is the really neat one. In my opinion, the highlight was the "he will have a face like me" scene. It must have been fun to film that! Anyway, it's another horror classic. Also starring Jospeh Cotten, Virginia North and Terry-Thomas.
This review is of the widescreen DVD of this film. Before now, I had only seen this film in the pan & scan format on TV. Amazing how different it looks. Phibes's mechanical band looked huge and now is shown to have only a few players. The costume party looked huge but it is now obvious that only 6 people were there. Also, the sets look smaller and tackier. The widescreen version is nice but makes it more obvious that this was a low-budget film. Being some 30 years older than I was the last time I saw this film, I also have to say that the film sure relies on coincidence for the bulk of it's plot. How did Phibes know the chauffer would stop and help the lady with the stalled car? How did he know the guy would even drive down that road? Lots of things in this are pretty hard to swallow but I guess if you are going to accept the premise of a dead man avenging his dead wife, then I suppose they figure you will accept anything. Makeup isn't bad on Price. The main reason to own this DVD is because it is the same un-cut version that played in theaters in 1971 complete with the original score (that AIP/Orion stripped off the movie for past video releases).
I rented Theater of Blood a few weeks back and was completely taken by it- Vincent Price was given free reign to go over the top in so many different directions (everything from Shylock to a gay hairdresser). This film, however, barely allows him to speak, and that is so much of what makes Vincent Price, well, Vincent Price. Its an entertaining film, but lacking in the looniness and sick brilliance of Theater of Blood. Did it bother anyone else that the 10 plagues were a)inaccurate (there is no plague of bats!) and b) in the wrong order? (Blood, frogs... ending with darkness, then the killing of the firstborn). Of course, most Rabbis keep a convenient scroll nearby containing nothing but an illustrated and inaccurate account of the 10 plagues.
This tacky horror movie should be intriguing and fun, and it gets there
at times, but by and large it's tedious stuff. Vincent Price stars as
the title character, a mad genius who devises bizarre deaths for the
doctors who failed to save his wife. Copper Peter Jeffrey tries to
discover what's going on 'ere then with the help of surgeon Joseph
The deaths are inventive and there are some enjoyable bits and pieces, like the aftermath of one doctor getting impaled by a unicorn, but the pace is far too slow and the structure doesn't help: there are three scenes in the movie - Price planning in his lair, the murders, and the bobbies on the trail - and the repetition really started to wear me down after a while.
The sequel is slightly superior.
I watched a review of this movie on Cinemassacre and it looked pretty cool so I decided to buy it. I paid $3 on eBay for it and had to wait a week to get it. Once it arrived I popped it in and was ready to be chilled like the DVD case said. I was chilled alright, chilled with boredom and anger for spending $3 on this crap. This movie took about 30 minutes to get going, the first scene is Dr Phibes playing the organ and dancing around in a robe like a damn fool. He then starts to randomly kill people in the lamest ways possible. Bats, an air conditioner, c'mon man! We don't get a clue as to why he's doing this until the middle of the movie. At that point I was sleeping. I turned this thing off, threw it against the wall and cursed like a truck driver for 15 minutes. This movie came out about the same time as the Texas Chainsaw Massacre so I was expecting something like that. Man, was I wrong. If you have trouble sleeping buy this movie. It sure does the trick. I want my $3 back and I want it back now.
Vincent Price is, as far as I am considered, THE greatest of all Horror
icons, and my personal favorite actor of all-time. And Price plays one
of his most incomparable and unique roles as the mad Dr. Phibes in this
ingenious and delightfully macabre highlight, Robert Fuerst's satirical
Horror masterpiece "The Abominable Dr. Phibes" of 1971. Hardly is there
another Horror film that pairs a brilliantly grotesque atmosphere with
delightfully macabre wit as "The Abominable Dr Phibes" does, and and
hardly has there such an ingenious performance as that of the great
Vincent Price in this wonderful film.
Dr. Anton Phibes (Vincent Price) is an ingenious organ player and madman, pursues only one goal - to take bloody revenge on the doctors he holds responsible for the death of his beloved wife, who has died several years before. His wife died on the operating table after an accident, in which Phibes himself was disfigured. Years after the accident, Phibes, who is believed dead, and only able to speak through a microphone attached to his throat, plans his revenge on the doctors in his bizarre quarters. The acts of revenge, at which Price is aided by his beautiful and silent female assistant (Virginia North) are carried out by ingeniously grotesque methods...
The unique visual style is as ingenious as the innovating and brilliantly grotesque manner in which the murders are carried out. I will not give any example for this, as I am not willing to spoil any of this film's wonderful cinematic delight. A much as Dr. Pibes is a vengeful psychopath, he is also a melancholic and sad romantic whose life has become meaningless since the death of his beloved wife, and whose only remaining joys are his grotesque organ play and his desire for revenge. Vincent Price, as mentioned above one of the greatest actors ever in my opinion, plays this role with absolute brilliance. Not only would no other actor have been able to play Dr. Phibes with such greatness, it is simply not imaginable for any other actor playing Phibes at all. This film truly is another proof of the brilliance of Vincent Price, and no one, not even people who don't like Horror can deny that. The cast furthermore includes the great Joseph Cotten, and Peter Jeffrey is great in the role of the investigatin Inspector Trout, the only one to suspect the presumably dead Dr. Phibes. This film is fantastic in so many aspects that it is not possible to name them all, and no Horror fan or true cineaste in general can afford to miss it! Absolutely Wonderful!
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