The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971) Poster


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Joseph Cotten would grumble on the set that he had to remember and deliver lines, while Vincent Price's were all to be post-dubbed. Price responded, "Yes, but I still know them, Joe." In fact, Price was well-known in Hollywood for his ability to memorize all of the characters' lines in a given production, not just his own.
Vincent Price often cracked up during filming, wrecking his makeup.
The name "Vesalius" is a reference to Andreas Vesalius, a Flemish scientist who cut up corpses to learn about the workings of the body.
For visual reasons, the plagues of flies and gnats were replaced with rats and bats.
Set in 1925; the Phibes' tombstones say 1921, and the characters say Anton and Victoria died 4 years earlier.
In order to gain more publicity this film was advertised as Vincent Price's 100th feature film.
The rat curse was originally intended to take place on a boat. Robert Fuest changed it to inside a plane, as he felt the boat could have been escaped from.
Vulnavia was originally meant to be another clockwork device, who simply looked more human.
Dr. Phibes' first words are spoken 32 minutes into the movie.
Vincent Price said Joseph Cotten was very uncomfortable doing his scenes, so he intentionally made a lot of funny faces to make him laugh.
Virginia North appeared in a play in London called "Council of Love," in which she was silent throughout her performance. "I played the daughter of the devil," she told the Associated Press in 1971. "I'd go around and do terrible things. The people who made the movie saw me in the play and decided I was what they wanted. You might say I was ready made for the movie part."
The "Vampire Bats" were really flying foxes, very docile fruit-loving bats.
Peter Cushing was originally cast as Vesalius, but he declined because his wife was in poor health at the time.
A young Joanna Lumley appeared as a laboratory assistant, but her scenes were cut.
The organ music at the beginning is "War March of the Priests" by Felix Mendelsohn.
In order for Joseph Cotten to know his cues, Phibes' dialogue was read aloud by a crew-member.
Afro-Canadian composer Shelton Brooks, who wrote the song "The Darktown Strutters Ball" that plays an important role in the film, was born in raised in Amherstburg, the same Ontario town that star Vincent Price spent his childhood summers at.
The ending for the film was rewritten by Robert Fuest and a writer on The Avengers (1961). Neither received credit for it.
In the script Phibes was abusive to Vulnavia, eventually stabbing her to death, and then escape his house (which was to catch fire) in a hot air balloon with Victoria's body. It was decided to make Phibes a more sympathetic character, so these sequences were removed.
Robert Fuest rewrote most of the original screenplay. Trout consulting the rabbi was one of the few sequences left from the original script.
The name "Vulnavia" is spoken only once, 10 minutes before the end.
Dr. Phibes's wife was named Victoria Regina. In 1935, Vincent Price made his Broadway debut in the play "Victoria Regina."
The first word of dialogue is not spoken until over ten minutes into the movie.
Former "The Who"-drummer, Keith Moon allegedly saw this movie just before he died in 1978.
Originally advertised in the U.S. with the tag line, "Love Means Never Having to Say You're Ugly," a parody of a famous line from "Love Story," out the previous year. However, that was replaced after the first week, as opening box office was disappointing and it turned out audiences had no idea what sort of film this was supposed to be. A new advertising campaign made it clear it was a horror film, and afterwards it became a box-office hit.
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At one point, Phibes quotes "The Good Morrow" by John Donne.
Sean Bury is dubbed.


The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

Dr. Phibes murders were inspired by the 10 plagues of Egypt found in the Old Testament: 1. Boils (Prof. Thornton is stung to death by bees; it's referenced but not shown) 2. Bats (Dr. Dunwoody is mauled to death by bats) 3. Frogs (Dr. Hargreaves's throat is crushed by a mechanical frog mask) 4. Blood (the blood is drained from Dr. Longstreet's body) 5. Hail (Dr. Hedgepath is frozen to death by a machine spewing ice) 6. Rats (Dr. Kitaj crashes his plane when he is attacked by rats) 7. Beasts (Dr. Whitcombe is speared by the horn of a brass unicorn head) 8. Locusts (Nurse Allen is eaten by locusts) 9. Death of the first born (Phibes kidnaps and attempts to kill Dr. Vesalius's son) 10. Darkness - This may refer to a) Phibes drains the blood from his own body while injecting embalming fluid, apparently joining his wife in death or b) the depiction of a solar eclipse at the very end.
When Longstreet is being killed, Vulnavia plays "Close Your Eyes".

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