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Not as good as the first Phibes movie (The Abominable Dr...) but jolly good fun, so long as you're not expecting a horror movie! This is a comedy! The double act of Peter Jeffrey and John Cater as the bumbling police officers Trout and Waverley are a joy. Vincent Price, himself, often portrayed his characters with tongue firmly in cheek, (witness the AIP Corman series of E A Poe titles) and this is no exception. What I would like to know is what is the obsession with dance band leaders and jazz cornet/trumpeters all about? OK, its set in the 20s, (allegedly!) and the mechanical band look like an old dance band of the time, or is it just another in-joke probably lost on most viewers? I'll explain: Beiderbeck (Bix Beiderbecke - legendary cornettist, who died of drink at 28); Hackett (Bobby Hackett - cornettist often compared to Bix for his lyrical style); Baker (Harold "Shorty" Baker - one-time trumpeter for Duke Ellington. Or even Kenny Baker, English trumpeter of considerable ability); Shavers (Charlie Shavers - highly accomplished trumpeter from the 'swing era'); Stewart (Rex Stewart - cornettist with Duke Ellington during 30s/40s). Get the picture? Then we have two band leaders: Ambrose (English dance band leader from the 30s) and Lombardo (Guy Lombardo, Canadian dance band leader from the 20s and 30s). Obsessive or what? Never mind, I just thought I'd point it out!!!! Its still an enjoyable load of old nonsense all the same. 10 out of 10 for cheekiness, but overall a 7.
Dr Phibes Rises Again is the sequel to the magnificent 'The Abominable
Dr Phibes'. The original film achieved cult classic status through a
magnificent performance from Vincent Price as the vengeful doctor of
the title, and an over the top, absurd, camp styling that set it apart
from most other films in it's field. Both of these ingredients are
present for the sequel, but it doesn't succeed like the first one did
because there's just something missing. The sequel sees Dr Phibes 'rise
again' upon the moon aligning itself in a certain way (or something)
and travelling to Egypt to find a river that will grant him and his
neither living, nor completely dead beloved, immortality. However,
things aren't so simple because the scrolls that lead the way to the
river have been stolen and Phibes has a contender; someone that needs
to find the river just as much as he does out there in Egypt with him.
What's basically missing from this film is assurance. The first film obviously knew what it wanted to do and so was able to do it and not let anything get in the way; this one is very muddled, and it never completely gives the impression that it knows where it wants to go. Just like the first film, this one delivers some very imaginative and very grisly methods of dispatch for it's lesser characters. However, these death scenes almost appear superfluous to the plot, and appear to only be there to continue what the original started, as Phibes probably could have gotten where he wanted to go without them but I'm not one to complain about a film that sees a man trapped in a giant gold scorpion while being eaten to death by live ones, and another man killed via a sharp spike shooting out of the telephone, so whether they're needed or not; they're nice. The film also features, like the original did, a lovely camp feeling; but it's never on the same level as it was in 'The Abominable'. Perhaps it's the move to Egypt and the low quality of the set's (as opposed to the grand and lavish ones of the original) what's done it.
As mentioned, Vincent Price returns to take up one of the roles that have helped cement him in the minds of his fans - Dr Phibes himself. This role, frankly, was made for Vincent Price; and he excels at playing it. It can be said that he doesn't do quite as good a job here, but then again; he didn't have as much good stuff to work with. Also making an appearance is fellow horror legend - Peter Cushing. Cushing only actually appears for all of about two minutes, but it's nice to see him nonetheless. Robert Fuest returns to the director's chair, as you'd probably expect; but the most notable performance in the film (other than Price) comes from Peter Jeffrey, in the role of the inept Scotland Yard inspector - Inspector Trout. Jeffrey delivers his lines with impeccable comic timing and steals every scene he's in. I'd even go as far as to say that Jeffrey is just as important a part of these two movies as Vincent Price is.
Overall, this film isn't nearly as good as 'The Abominable Dr Phibes', but fans of the original will find lots to like and despite the fact that it's a lesser film and has many flaws; I love this kind of stuff so it gets a big thumbs up from me.
The juxtapositioning of lame one-liners and overused sight gags with some rather memorable and disturbing murders are what this film is all about. Its all of a rather low quality in virtually all respects, yet with Vincent Price as a diabolical lead, the many foibles are easily overlooked. Phibes has risen from suspended animation and once more has a bee in his bonnet for those who killed his wife and took away his face. He's not content with simply killing them. Oh no, each murder is creative, elaborate and basically nonsensical in their conception. But still horrific somehow. There's no sport in criticizing the plot, questions like why Phibes conjures these nasty deaths for the lackeys of his enemy who are all actually ignorant and innocent of any wrongdoing. Then he chooses to reason with the one man who is actually trying to destroy him. Very EC comic inspired, and if you like that sort of thing, you will like this film. Keep this away formt he impressionable kids though. I saw this when I was really young, and the images were emblazened on my brain for all time. Beware!!!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS!
This follow up to 'The Abominable Dr Phibes' just goes to prove that you can't keep a good man down. Vincent Price, as knowingly camp as ever, tips a nod and a wink to the audience through his portrayal of Byronic, romantic hero, Anton Phibes - a disfigured creature determined to re-vivify his dead wife (Victoria) and for both of them to live happily ever after throughout eternity.
Fair enough! Stopping him from achieving his goal are the usual suspects of devious businessmen, sly archaeologists and incompetent policemen. Through 1920s England and Egypt, Phibes pursues this goal, merrily dispatching all those who stand in his way through a truly ingenious catalogue of murderous mayhem.
What makes the movie superior to the original is that director, Fuest has used his knowledge of television production (he helmed some excellent 60s 'Avengers' episodes) to create an altogther realistically fantastical world played out in the normal sphere of everyday life. Therefore, whilst the sets are art-deco in style and incredibly inventive and playful, the murders are juxtaposed to the settings in a neat and carefully composed, almost romanticised view, of the world. For example, whilst the settings in the Egyptian desert are almost always stagebound, the settings within the pyramid which houses Phibes key to immortality, are incredibly detailed and beautiful to look at, engaging the viewers sense of aesthetics not normally called upon in early 70s horror. Overlapping this is the sheer delight found in the way the labyrynthine plot overcomes its shortcomings by allowing the viewer to identify with Phibes - primarily because of the first movie and the wish to see him survive.
Of course, the undeniable strength of the movie is the portrayal of Phibes by the always enigmatic Price. It is this familiarity of the actors playing that engages the viewer. Portrayed as a man searching for love at all costs, Phgibes is not a monster but a tragic and lonely figure, thus creating audience sympathy immediately.
That the last view of Phibes is of one of triumph indicates that perhaps a sequel was to be made. But, in hindsight, Phibes got the richly deserving send off that he so desparately wanted.
The movie really is a truly globe-trotting, almost Bond-like adventure. Despite the low budget, the movie does indeed look at times absolutely magnificent. The cinematography, the mise-en-scene, the lighting and music all combine with excellent direction and acting to provide the audience with a movie that could outshine all postmodern horror movies. It is one of the last truly great gothic outings that British cinema has provided.
MISS IT AT YOUR PERIL!
Just saw the movie on DVD. I have never seen it before and I am glad I
found it. Of course this is an almost unnecessary re-working of the
first movie but it is great for those like myself who can't get enough
of Vincent Price's Phibes.
The British cast is very stiff here and the almost chanting 'Harvard Univeristy drama teacher' voice of American actor Vincent Price (when he is thinking/transmitting to Vulnavia as opposed to the stark tone when he uses his electromechanical speaking apparatus) provides grandeur and menace. This is a very challenging role since the story is badly underwritten (everything just exists and appears, no explanations), the dialog is pompous and overwritten and Price must work with no facial expression (or better: with an absolute minimum). He did that with bravura in the first pic and he only slips during the opening close ups at the organ where his facial muscles move a little too much, but I still accept it.
I must admit that I had some difficulties watching such a low budget movie. First I didn's understand what happened. What? The house is in rubbles, torn apart by the villain who stole the papyrus? When? The house was there just a second ago. I thought it was meant to be some kind of theatrical language I didn't understand. To my embarrassment on second viewing I found out that Price says: 'Let's go upstairs' and the organ, like in the first movie acts as an elevator. I missed the visual explanation.
The shot which shows Phibes and the new Vulnavia (where the heck does the beautiful female servant come from? Is she a ghost? Sure not: the writers couldn't come up with any explanation.
Period) rising into the rubbles clearly is a camera moving downward and there is a pitch black background. I needed to re-learn to listen more to dialog. The visual overload of today is hazardous to these kind of films which of course have worked much better in their time.
I agree with most of the comments that state that the deaths are less imaginative than in the first movie but I like this fact that this sequel was made only two years after the original - the look and feel are similar even if some of the lushness is missing.
I like the two policemen acting as a semi working-class, people with a common sense and humor, counterbalance to the Gothic "Phantom of the Opera style" Phibes. I like the way they have given up trying to catch Phibes and these of course are the two we can identify with, yet there is too little material here and some of the scenes with the policemen look like a family gathering from the first movie and of course as in so many sequels: the acting becomes a little too self aware.
The villain, his hoping-to-be wife and his henchmen are all very dull characters so this is basically a Vincent Price/Peter Jeffrey movie with wasted but welcome guest appearances from Terry-Thomas and Peter Cushing. Both wonderful actors with careers mostly made of making the most of bad material.
The 1970s version of late 1920s British Art Deco (since the Paris-fair that introduced the Art Deco style was held in 1925, I'd say it should be rather early 1930s but the cars look more late 20s in both movies) plus the theatrical, magical, Gothic, deep menace of the price-less (pun not intended) Phibes as only Price could have played makes this very low budget film a little treasure, even if it's basically only for those, like me, who can't get enough of the magical world of the wonderfully abominable Dr. Phibes.
...as the original. Yes, the design is impressive. Yes, Phibes
as good. The Biederbeck sub-plot (Robert Quarry's best performance by
check his IMDB credits list to see how many turkeys he's been in) is
interesting, and makes him a suitable rival for Phibes. Sort
And that's kind of where I'm stuck at. Everything in this movie is "sort of." Biederbeck is "sort of" Phibes' rival, but the two never meet until the end. The movie "sort of" carries on the theme of the original. But without a driving force or motivation of vengeance, or a theme like the Plagues, here it's just a matter of seeing how many nifty ways Phibes can (rather implausibly) knock someone off. And some of those (a raven?) aren't even that interesting.
The humor here is also a lot broader, which wasn't really to my taste, either. Watching Phibes chow down on grapes through his neck hole and almost choking struck me as parodying the character itself, which tends to rob Phibes of much of his menace.
Overall, this sequel is enjoyable, but to me, it ultimately fails to rise to level of its predecessor.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
What can I say?, Vincent Price as the abominable Doctor Phibes really packs a punch. Since the first instalment called The Abominable Doctor Phibes a cult following has been reaching new heights. Basically, a story of a man who was once a brilliant Doctor himself, had his wife under go a surgical procedure for some small problem. Instead, she died on the operating table six minutes into the surgery which caused the Doctor to exact revenge on all parties involved with the operation. Except one thing, by happenstance, he was disfigured by an unknown accident which gave his appearance an ugly result which causes him to use makeup to give himself a new face. And a talent for which he uses a speaker through his neck. Besides this new appendage, an assistant named Vulnavia who is his silent partner, helps him on each excursion for his revenge. Where she comes from, nobody knows. Now with a new journey, he goes to Egypt to find the famed and legendary river of life where the pharaoh's of the past used after death to give immortal life. In the middle is a man named Viderbeck, an archaeological scientist who is also seeking the river is now in the way of Phibes and his goal. But what others do not know, is that Viderbeck uses an elixir to give him life for his continued search. Running low, he and his team mates desperately try to find the chamber, except each team mate dies most brutally with Phibe's brand of justice. With Scotland yard back on the scene, Phibe's begins to mount the pressure by kidnapping Viderbeck's would be fiancé only to coax Viderbeck to give Phibe's a key which opens the gates to the river. This film is an ultimate classic. Of music, chaos, murder in the most heinous ways and a beautiful story of true companionship for Phibe's and his wife Victoria. Whether the legends are true or not, this film gives the audience a glimpse of magic in the forms of faith. For Phibes, it was true love all the way. To go beyond the reaches of morality to save his beloved wife is the calling of one's self worth. Excellent movie for all Vincent Price fans.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Melt a package of Velveeta, add a can of jalapeno slices and you'll
have a good dip for corn chips. The problem with this sequel to The
Abominable Dr. Phibes is that this time Phibes ain't got no jalapenos.
With Dr. Phibes Rises Again we have Phibes (Vincent Price) in Egypt,
along with his preserved wife, Victoria, his silent assistant, the
well-built Vulnavia, and his swinging automaton band. Can he find the
headwaters of the River of Life, hidden under an ancient mountain
within a lavish underground temple built by the now-vanished Egyptian
pharaohs, before an obsessive and wealthy dilettante explorer, Darius
Biederbeck (Robert Quarry), does? Will Dr. Phibes invent some intricate
and painful deaths for those who get is his way...as in deaths by
telephone receiver, giant gin bottle, claw, stinger, Henry James and
sand particle (lots of them)? Will the bumbling police duo of Inspector
Trout and Sir Wayne Waring show up to perform a vaudeville act of silly
misunderstandings and pompous posturing? Will there be a number of good
actors who seem to have wandered into the movie for a moment or two of
cameo immortality, never to be seen again in the movie once they say
their sentence or two, such as Peter Cushing, Beryl Reid, Hugh Griffin
and Terry-Thomas? Even John Thaw shows up with curly brown hair 15
years before he became Inspector Morse. Is Dr. Phibes clunky and, for
long stretches, simply dull? Yes to all the above.
The Abominable Dr. Phibes was a great cheese dip, and witty in its Bible-based, corpse- producing methods. It also offered us one first-rate, sympathetic actor in a leading role, Joseph Cotten as Dr. Vesalius. If the first Dr. Phibes film was an unctuous slice of liverwurst, this one is simply an under-cooked blood-pudding, stuffed with bits of edible body organs but under-seasoned. Even Vincent Price's hamminess is held in check. He's constrained by the make-believe that he has to use an artificial speaking device (because of an encounter with acid). All his lines have been recorded separately, probably after filming, leaving him on camera to twitch a bit when we hear his voice.
To watch Price in all his hammy glory in witty vehicles of camp, comedy and corpses, try Theater of Blood and The Abominable Dr. Phibes. As for this film, well, it does no real damage except to Harold Arlen and E. Y. Harburg; the last thing we hear is Vincent Price singing "Over the Rainbow."
I bought this one as part of a back to back Dr. Phibes Midnight Feature
DVD. I didn't like it quite as much as the original, but it was not
completely without its charm. Vincent Price's performance was good (as
per usual) and Robert Quarry did well as Biderbeck (Dr. Phibes' foe in
this film). As anyone who has seen the original can guess, there's a
lot of really elaborate deaths and more of Vincent Price talking
through a machine plugged into his neck.
The film picks up with a brief recap of the original (Phibes out to kill the doctors who where operating on his wife when she died). Phibes then arises from the tomb in his basement where he and his wife's corpse were resting for about three years. Phibes has a plan this time to find a secret river of life in Egypt that comes to a pharaoh's tomb once every 2000 years so he can bring his wife back to life and have eternal life. However, Phibes' house has been demolished and a priceless scroll that had the secret of the tomb has been taken. Biderbeck (Quarry) somehow acquired the scroll and intends to find the river for himself and his girlfriend. Both travel to Egypt to find the river of life, and Phibes kills Biderbeck's lackeys along the way in his usual methods.
It's not that bad. It didn't live up to the original, but it still delivered big on the theme deaths. The deaths aren't quite as structured as in the last Phibes film, but they're still pretty fun.
Some feel that this sequel to 1970's The Abominable Dr. Phibes surpassed
original film with its all-out camp elan, wild-and-woolly murder sequences
(it's hard to imagine anything more skin-crawlingly gruesome than the
Scorpion Throne sequence in this film), exquisite Deco Egyptienne sets and
scenery-chewing performances by such stellar talents as Hugh Griffith,
Terry-Thomas (a priceless cameo), Beryl Reid and Peter Jeffrey. Robert
Quarry has probably his best role ever as the perfidious Biederbeck, and
Valli Kemp makes a fetchingly arch replacement in the role of Vulnavia
originated by Virginia North (Kemp's Vulnavia is more in the vein of
Maxfield Parrish, while North was arctically Deco). But it's Vincent
Price--"how ironic and how clever!"--who rules this bizarre, darkly comic
universe of murders and ancient Egyptian occult wisdom. The score by John
Gale is also worthy of considerable praise--one of the great horror scores
of the latter 20th Century. When is the CD coming out?
I've seen this movie about 7 times, and every time I always notice some little quip or detail that escaped me on first viewing. For trivia buffs, a third film was planned, which was due to bring Phibes face to face with Hitler. Vincent Price was so incensed at the chopping of the original running time of Rises Again that he refused to have anything to do with the third project, so it was abandoned. Director Robert Fuest worked on the Linda Thorson season of the Avengers (the Takeover episode shows some of the Phibes style), and went on to produce a stylish send-up of one of Michael Moorcock's future-sex fantasias.
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