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The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971) Poster

Goofs

Jump to: Anachronisms (10)  | Audio/visual unsynchronised (1)  | Continuity (6)  | Crew or equipment visible (1)  | Factual errors (5)  | Plot holes (4)  | Revealing mistakes (5)  | Spoilers (4)

Anachronisms 

The song "You Stepped Out of a Dream" was not released until 1940, 15 years later than when the film takes place.
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Seconds after Dr. Kitaj arrives at the London Aeroplane Club, contrails appear over the left side of the hangar roof. In the 1920s, no aircraft flew high enough to create contrails.
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The Clockwork Band plays "One For My Baby and One More For the Road," sung by a Frank Sinatra imitator. The song was written in 1943; Sinatra recorded it in 1947.
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The airplane featured is a De Havilland Hornet Moth which was not manufactured until 1934, nine years after this movie is set.
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The film is set in 1925. The automobiles, airplane, and film projector seem to be from the 1920s, but the house interiors, including the lights around Dr. Phibes' organ, and clothing appear to be early 1970s "mod" style. At the end Dr. Phibes plays "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" which was written in 1935.
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The organ Dr. Phibes uses is clearly meant to be a Wurlitzer style theatre pipe organ, complete with elevating mechanism. The sounds we hear at the beginning are clearly from a baroque style church organ, which has a different action and pipe rank arrangement. Later in the film the sound clearly comes from a Hammond tonewheel organ with rotary speaker cabinet (Leslie) on slow speed (chorale). The latter was introduced in 1941.
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In 1925, UK civilian aircraft did not require the ID lettering that modern aircraft do.
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A clockwork music box plays "Elmer's Tune," which was written in 1941.
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Using neither club nor injection needle, Phibes seems to render the chauffeur unconscious (for hours) with a Vulcan nerve pinch from Star Trek.
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The rotating speaker effect, heard on the organ at the beginning of the film, was invented in 1941.
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Audio/visual unsynchronised 

When he plays the organ, Dr. Phibes' hand movements almost never match the music we hear.
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Continuity 

After Vulnavia dances with Phibes, he lowers the cage of bats into the cellar. Vulnavia runs up the stairs, then appears downstairs seconds later, in different clothes.
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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.
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During the operation, Vulnavia attacks a painted backdrop with an axe. She is shown alternating between being in front of it and behind it in quick succession.
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When Vulnavia is wreaking Phibes' lair, she knocks the bass drum off the bandstand on to the dance floor. Later, when Trout, Crow and Vesalius approach the organ, the drum is nowhere to be seen.
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When the nurse is killed, the color of her hair changes dramatically from a beautiful red to a horrible gray (obviously to increase the horror).
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When Dr. Hargreaves fights the frog mask, he is seen trying to open the catch with his hands, but in all the close-up shots of the ticking catch, there are no hands in sight.
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Crew or equipment visible 

In the shot where the car chases the plane before takeoff, you can see the shadow of the camera and camera man.
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Factual errors 

The bats seen in the first murder are fruit bats. They would never eat flesh. They eat fruits or lick nectar from flowers.
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The Ten Plagues of Egypt are wrongly depicted, both in order of appearance and what they actually were. According to the book of Exodus, the Ten Plagues were: 1. Water to blood, 2. Frogs, 3. Gnats, 4. Flies, 5. Pestilence (upon the beasts of Egypt), 6. Boils, 7. Hail, 8. Locusts, 9. Darkness, and 10. Death of the Firstborn (Exodus 7:14 - 12:36). The correct names are written in Hebrew but the rabbi reads "pestilence" as "bats" and "gnats" as "rats". The first and second plagues on the scroll are moved down to be the fifth and sixth plagues. Finally, the rabbi incorrectly reads the plagues from left to right instead of right to left as is normal for Hebrew thus changing the order of the plagues even more so.
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The head of the sleeping nurse gets completely covered with thick syrup, leaving her unable to breath. Even if she took a sleeping pill she would at least unconsciously stir or even wake up, yet she lies perfectly still and is probably long suffocated before the locusts arrive.
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When Dr. Phibes spills the green syrup over the sleeping nurse he accidentally covers the light and the glass on the nightstand. Later the nurse is completely covered in syrup, but the light and the glass are perfectly clean.
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The chessboard is set up incorrectly. Each player should have a white square to his lower right, but during the game those squares are black.
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Plot holes 

Trying to remove Dr. Whitcombe from the solid wooden wall, the police turn the unicorn head with its spiral horn in the wrong direction, essentially screwing Dr. Whitcombe tighter to the wall rather than loosening him from it.
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At no time do the authorities consider that there are ten curses but only nine surgical team members to target.
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We learn the doctor's face is disfigured so badly that he cannot open his mouth anymore and, instead, uses a gullet opening at his neck to eat; however, since he can't chew, he shouldn't be able to eat any solid food, yet he does so in the movie.
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At the mausoleum, Trout and Vesalius find ashes in Phibes' coffin, and Trout suggests that they belong to the chauffeur. If Phibes had a chauffeur, why did no one ever notice that he disappeared without a trace after the crash.
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Revealing mistakes 

The amount of bats that kill Dr Dunwoody could never have come from the small cage that was lowered into his bedroom.
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Virginia North smiles broadly as she dances with Vincent Price. Her face is concealed most of the time, but if you look closely, you can see her face for a moment, and she is clearly trying not to laugh at Vincent Price's deliberately camp performance.
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One can clearly see wires attached to one of the flying bats.
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When Dr. Phibes calls the chief surgeon the second time, it is revealed that the jack port on his side of the neck is fake, as it has a support bar wrapped around the neck in order to maintain position.
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When Dr. Phibes is drizzling the green syrup on Nurse Allen's head, actress Susan Travers is visibly flinching and forcing her eyes to remain closed as the goo lands on her.
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Spoilers

The goof items below may give away important plot points.

Character error 

In the closing sequence, when the surgeon's son is chained to the operating table, Dr. Phibes says several times that he will have 6 minutes before the acid falls. The continuous, uninterrupted sequence runs 5 1/2 minutes from the time Dr. Phibes starts the flow of the acid to the moment it falls in Vulnavia's face.
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Continuity 

After Dr. Longstreet dies, his maid tells the inspector that she heard someone playing the violin at half past two in the morning. Dr. Phibes' assistant played the violin in broad daylight.
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During the murder of the nurse, when Phibes puts the outline of her body on the floor and drills a hole through the head, he looks through the hole he drilled but the view he has of her has her body lying in the opposite direction from the outline he laid on the floor.
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Plot holes 

It is established that Phibes targets the surgeons he holds responsible for the death of his wife; but at the masked party, Dr. Hargreaves introduces himself as a psychiatrist.
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See also

Trivia | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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