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>
Former "The Who" drummer, Keith Moon, allegedly saw this movie just before he died in 1978. See more »
During the operation scene, Vulnavia is seen cutting a hole in the painted backdrop through the face of a seated man. Inspector Trout and Tom are subsequently seen putting their heads through two slashes in the backdrop, one of which is located above this hole. But after Vulnavia's death, as Trout orders his police constables to search the house, the holes for their heads have disappeared. See more »
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 roles, here perfectly in character as a god-like doctor (particularly in the final operation sequence).
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.
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