11
Jul
13

The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971)

Dr. Phibes likes to blow off steam by playing the organ.

Dr. Phibes likes to blow off steam by playing the organ.

Vincent Price strikes again! And, as far as I’m concerned, he can strike forevermore, because holy crap The Abominable Dr. Phibes is one of the most perfectly entertaining horror movies I’ve ever seen in my life, due in no small part to Price’s totally awesome performance. Of course, I’m telling you something you probably already know.

Dr. Anton Phibes is a multi-talented widower, seeking revenge against those he holds responsible for the death of his wife: the nine doctors and

Dr. Phibes' Clockwork Wizards!

Dr. Phibes’ Clockwork Wizards!

nurses who performed the surgery that killed her. One by one, Dr. Phibes takes them down in murders of biblical proportions: each death represents one of the ten plagues of Egypt. Every inventive murder is played out with as much campy drama as one could possibly hope for, and all with the help of Dr. Phibes’ gorgeous, stylish, violin-playing henchwoman, the mysteriously mute Vulnavia.

This movie is so unbelievably stylish. If it were candy, I wouldn’t be able

Dr. Phibes also like talking to his wife's portrait. She was hot.

Dr. Phibes also like talking to his wife’s portrait. She was hot.

to stop eating it. It offers delightful, if somewhat puzzling surprises, such as Phibes’ robotic band Dr. Phibes’ Clockwork Wizards, Vulnavia’s extensive and bizarre hat collection, doctors fortuitously wearing frog masks, and brussel sprout goo as a murder weapon, just to name a few, of course! This movie is almost sort of proto-Saw in that it depicts bizarre murders used to teach victims one final lesson. Only here, it’s done with complete style and humor, something painfully absent from those dreadful Saw flicks,

Vulnavia in all her glory.

Vulnavia in all her glory.

no? Certainly, one could sum up Phibes as a revenge flick about an evil doctor empoying the bible as fodder for murder and give the impression this is some sort of gory thriller, Seven-style. This is absolutely not that. This movie couldn’t or wouldn’t be made today; things seem to be a little too concerned with grit and gore these days; far too interested in depicting reality that any sense of style and mystery is almost entirely lost.

As far as Phibes I wouldn’t change a thing, except that I’ve only seen it once. More, please. More, more, more!

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