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>
Vincent Price plays a "dead" man avenging the surgical team that lost his wife on the operating table. Nine doctors in all(one of them a nurse) are treated to nine of the most innovative, creative, outlandish deaths imaginable. The deaths loosely follow the Ten Plagues of the Old Testament, but each with a new twist. The film is an exercise in witty, stylish black comedy seldom seen today. Much of the credit MUST go to director Robert Fuest for his vision of something truly unique: a world in the 1920's with clockwork musicians, 20's music, and beautiful sets and costumes. Price gives one of his best performances in a role that barely utilizes his greatest attribute, his voice. Price relies heavily on movement and facial expressions, and does so wonderfully. The cast is superb with British stalwarts adorning the film all over. Terry-Thomas has a nice cameo as a Doctor Longstreet experiencing a blood donor's worst nightmare. Peter Jeffrey, a woefully under-appreciated actor, gives a fine comic performance as a policeman always on the spot a moment too late. Joseph Cotton does a credible job as the surgical leading physician. Aubrey Woods(wonderful..simply wonderful), Hugh Griffith, and John Cater also lend their talents to the supporting cast. Caroline Munro plays Price's dead wife as well. This film rejuvenated Price's career in the 70's. It is unique, poetic, haunting, and, for me the most important, very amusing. If you lack a sense of humour with regards to the world of the macabre, you might want to stay away from Phibes. It is a very dark, black comedy, yet one that is at its heart nothing more than a tragic love story of sorts.
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