Doctors are being murdered in bizarre manners - bats, bees, a killer frog mask, etc. - which represent the nine Biblical plagues of Egypt. The crimes are orchestrated by an organ-playing, demented madman (from his home base, replete with a clockwork orchestra and help from a beautiful, mute assistant). Detectives are stumped until they find that all the slain doctors once assisted a Dr. Vesalius on an unsuccessful operation involving the wife of organist Dr. Phibes, killed in a car crash upon learning of his wife's death. He couldn't be the culprit, could he?Written by
Ed Sutton <email@example.com>
Writer William Goldstein has said that Vulnavia was originally meant to be another clockwork device, complete with a wind-up key in her neck. Believing that Phibes needed a more mobile assistant, director Robert Fuest made her human, but retained the blank facial expression and mechanical movements. See more »
A clockwork music box plays "Elmer's Tune," which was written in 1941. See more »
This film would have probably been horrible had they taken themselves seriously. Fortunately, they didn't and, consequently, created a fascinating and entertaining festival of murder, revenge, and Art Deco set design. Vincent Price is Phibes, a brilliant organist and acoustic expert who's wife 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 art. By the end of the movie you'll find yourself rooting for Phibes.
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.
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