The vengeful doctor rises again, seeking the Scrolls of Life in an attempt to resurrect his deceased wife.The vengeful doctor rises again, seeking the Scrolls of Life in an attempt to resurrect his deceased wife.The vengeful doctor rises again, seeking the Scrolls of Life in an attempt to resurrect his deceased wife.
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.
- Dec 10, 2004