This unusually beautiful horror classic features Vincent Price in the title role of Dr. Anton Phibes, a genius who specializes in organ music, theology, and concocting bizarre deaths for anyone who wrongs him. Discovering... more » why is half the fun, so for now let's just say that Phibes is a little mad and very, very angry. With his assistant, the lovely, silent Vulnavia, Phibes begins cutting a gory swath through London's medical community, with the dogged Inspector Trout hot on his tail. Phibes contains many pleasures--exquisite art direction and a dark sense of humor among them--but the real treat is in watching an old pro like Price at work. Whether he's playing his organ, staring down a victim, or drinking through his neck, Price is at the top of his game. He mixes dark menace with wry comic touches, revealing both Phibes's maniacal obsession and offhanded confidence in his own genius. Settle in for an evening of elegant gore and if an attractive, mute deliverywoman comes to the door, whatever you do--don't answer! --Ali Davis« less
Daniel V. Reilly | Upstate New York, United States | 01/06/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I remember "discovering" this movie as a teenager; I came across it one night on Channel 7 in NYC, at around 3 in the morning. It was love at first sight. Vincent Price plays Dr. Anton Phibes, an organ-playing Super-Genius, who seeks revenge on the 9 people he holds responsible for the death of his Wife: The 8 Doctors and the Nurse who failed to save her after an accident. Phibes and his lovely assistant, Vulnavia, operate out of a secret lair, complete with a ballroom and clockwork orchestra of Phibes' own creation, and as the film begins, their plan is already well underway: they will kill the "responsible" parties using the 10 Biblical plagues of The Pharoes- Boils, Bats, Blood, Frogs, Beasts, The Death of the First-Born, Locusts, Rats, Hail, and Darkness.....Let the fun begin.... What is so great about this movie is that, in my opinion, there ARE no other movies like this one. It's a surreal period-piece (The film takes place in the 1920's), that deals with grusome murders, has a wicked sense of humor, and a villain straight out of a comic-book (Comic readers will find Phibes to be a cross between Doctor Doom and The Joker). The sets and locations are great, and Vincent Price is superb, as usual. You can tell he had a great time playing the good Doctor. The ending is weirdly satisfying, and again, is one-of-a-kind. The cast is superb, and Joseph Cotten is a great foil for Price. Their scene in the operating theater is phenomenal. The DVD is short on extras, just a Theatrical trailer, which is a hoot. And anyone who has had to suffer through awful-looking Television airings will love the crisp look of the film in Widescreen. Anyone who is a fan of either Horror movies or Vincent Price MUST add this film to their collection. As the Policeman says early in the film, "There are a lot of strange people practicing medicine these days!""
Campy yet ghoulish fun!
Darrell Heath | Little Rock, AR USA | 12/22/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Vincent Price will always be remembered best for his numerable horror film roles. While many of these films may be less than stellar, occaisionaly one would come along that outshone all the others. "The Abominable Dr. Phibes" is one such little gem. Price plays Dr. Anton Phibes, a musician and all around twisted genius with a mission. Phibes is bent upon killing off the team of doctors who failed to save the life of his beloved wife after a rather nasty automobile accident. Of course, being a twisted genius, Phibes doesn't go about exacting his revenge like any other normal homicidal maniac. He's decided to take the Old Testament plagues visited upon Pharaoh and Egypt and adapt them for his own nefarious purposes. The way Phibes uses the plagues of blood, bats, boils, hail etc. I'll leave for you to see. Now, if you go into this film expecting a straightforward horror film, with lots of blood and gore, you may be disappointed. Director Robert Fuest, as one reviewer has already pointed out, had a stint on "The Avengers", and he tells this story in the same tongue in cheek style that was so typical (and endearing) of that classic TV series. Also, the lavish deco designed sets lend the film a stylish and sometimes surreal look and feel. The clockwork musician sequences are a notable example of this stylish/surreal imagery. There are also some wonderful performances here -Joseph Cotten as the senior physician for whom Phibes saves as the last of his victims, Virginia North as the ethereal and lethal Vulnavia, and Terry-Thomas turns in a nicely comic performance as one of Phibes' earliest victims. The really knockout performance here must go to Vincent Price as Dr. Phibes. Price manages to strike a fine balance between the camp and yet menacing role of Phibes without over playing either side. A wonderful little story element in the film has Phibes' vocal apparatus having been destroyed in the accident that claimed his wife. In order to speak he has constructed a device that allows him to attach a plug into the side of his neck (he also eats and drinks through this hole) while his voice emerges from something that looks like an old megaphone speaker off of a Victrola phonograph player! This meant that Price had to record his lines first and then act out through facial,eye, and body movements the emotion of his words as his famous velvety tones emerge out of the speaker. Not an easy trick for any actor. Price is also able to give Phibes a sympathetic slant as well. Phibes is certainly a murderous maniac and misguided in his quest for revenge but Price allows us to see a human side as Phibes sits and talks to a photograph of his dead wife. Phibes was obviously obsessively in love with his wife and its this same obsession that drives him to do the twisted things he does. This powerful love of Phibes' also gives the character a hint of necrophilia which becomes particularly apparent during the films finale. All in all this is a wonderfully quirky little film. Great production values, fine script and performances make this an above average horror movie. And if you've ever wondered what it means for something to be "camp" then this is a fun way to learn the meaning of the word."
Classic Film, Bad DVD
Mr. Movie Man | Ontario, Canada | 05/26/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)
This is a cult-classic! Unfortunately, it was released on a disc of poor quality.
It won't play in any of my DVD-players. Not Happy "
Vincent Price in a great, if deranged role
Mr. Movie Man | 02/04/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Vincent Price. A Deranged doctor out to enact revenge for the death of his beautiful wife while on the operating table. What more needs to be said? This movie has Price at his campy best. While the plot is somewhat ploding at times, in terms of sheer cinematic shock value this is a great flick. I won't give away any of the various murders but suffice it to say none of them are pretty. All in all one of Vincent's best and a great movie to watch late at night with the covers up."
"There are some very strange people practicing medicine thes
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 06/29/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Billed as Vincent Price's 100th feature film, The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971) is one of my more favored Price features, right up there with House of Wax (1953), The Fly (1958), and House on Haunted Hill (1959). Directed by Robert Fuest ("The Avengers", Dr. Phibes Rises Again), the film stars, as I've mentioned, Merchant of Menace himself Vincent Price. Also appearing is Virginia North (Deadlier Than the Male, On Her Majesty's Secret Service), Joseph Cotten (Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte, Soylent Green), Terry-Thomas (It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines), Peter Jeffrey (Countess Dracula, The Odessa File), and Caroline Munro (At the Earth's Core, The Spy Who Loved Me), in an uncredited, but pivotal role.
Price plays Dr. Anton Phibes, a man of many talents (music, theology, engineering, etc.), and one believed to be dead. Official reports claim he perished in a fiery car crash while rushing to his wife Victoria's side while she was undergoing an operation in which she subsequently died. Well, turns out Phibes didn't cash out (he was merely disfigured), and during the years after his wife's passing he's been in hiding, using his wealth and genius to plot revenge on those he deemed responsible for his wife's death, specifically the medical staff who were involved in her operation (there were nine...seems like an awful lot of people to be involved in a medical procedure at the same time but whatever...hey, at least it provides for a decent body count). With the help of his always fashionably dressed (and silent) assistant Vulnavia (North), Phibes sets into motion a series of methodical and diabolical murders, each one more cunning than the last, all based the ten curses visited upon the pharaohs during exodus, as detailed in the old testament. I won't divulge the specifics of each murder as not to spoil the fun here, but they all of a seriously gruesome and macabre nature (here's a few hints...boils, hail, blood, locusts, rats, frogs, and so on). After the first few deaths the police, specifically Inspector Trout (Jeffrey), begin to suspect the same individual is responsible, and their investigative efforts lead them to Dr. Vesalius (Cotten), who happened to be the lead surgeon during Victoria's operation. Trout and Vesalius eventually discern the possible identity of the madman (a search of Phibes' crypt raises more questions than it answers), but that doesn't stop the deceased from accumulating in one fantastic death sequence after another. As Inspector Trout suffers the indignities of his supervisors for his inability to not only catch the killer but also in protecting the potential victims (a few get it while under police guard), the cunning and elusive Phibes seems to be saving the best for last in terms of Vesalius, given the fact he views Vesalius as the person most responsible for Victoria's demise.
This is one of those films I watch about once a year as I really enjoy it, specifically the seemingly lavish production values, ornate costumes, macabre nature of the story, along with all the subtle comic touches, many of them provided by Price himself. During one death sequence involving Terry-Thomas' character, we see the victim at home, enjoying some libations while watching an arousing feature on an old timey projector (a scantily clad woman dancing around with a snake...apparently that was pretty risqué for the mid to late 1920s, the time which the story place). After Phibes dispatches Thomas' character in typically horrific fashion, he takes his leave but not before stopping to view a large picture on the wall, one featuring some Rubenesque, half nekkid individuals cavorting in the foreground and one that elicits as distasteful expression from Phibes, apparently finding the aesthetics objectionable. I've always been partial to Vincent Price's films, as he's entertaining to watch, especially when he `camps' it up, as is the case here (he seemed to never have any illusions about the movies he appeared in, only an inherent desire to entertain and give audiences their money's worth). His character here suffered great disfigurement, forcing him to don obvious facial prosthetics throughout nearly the entire film (we get a couple of great shots near the end of Phibes without, and he's truly scary looking). Another aspect of his past injury is he can't speak in normal fashion, having to utilize a plug in the side of his neck that attached to various speaker devices, allowing him to express himself verbally...somewhat. He's a very hands on type of individual, and while there are certain aspects where he requires assistance, he seems to prefer to handle the brunt of his dirty work on his own. Despite his penchant for morbid activity, it's hard not to like the character given his positive qualities (he's meticulous, detail oriented, intelligent, has an eye for fashion, charming when he wants to be, a devoted husband, and so on). Sure he likes to kill the occasion individual in a particular horrific manner, but he does it with flair and a real sense of showmanship and ingenuity, and he only takes the lives of those he sees as truly deserving. As far as the rest of the cast I thought they all did very well, especially Peter Jeffrey who played the beleaguered Inspector Trout (his superiors often mistakenly referred to him as Pike, as if they had enough to deal with without having to remember such a triviality as his name...get it? Trout, Pike...whatever). His character was obviously intended as a sort of comic foil, but he didn't come off as a bumbling, incompetent fool to me (the brass unicorn bit was a beaut), just someone trying to play catch up with a villain who was out of his league (remember, Phibes had years to plan his revenge). As far as I can tell, Cotten was the only one playing it serious throughout the movie, almost as if someone forgot to let him in on the gag. Ah well, there's usually a requirement for a straight man with material like this, and he fits the bill well. Another aspect I really liked was the ending, capped off by an oddly appropriate instrumental version of `Over the Rainbow'.
The picture quality, presented in widescreen (1.85:1), enhanced for 16 X 9 TVs, looks very clean and clear, and the Dolby Digital mono audio, available in English, Spanish, and French, comes through very well. The only extra included is an original theatrical trailer. Price would reprise the role of Phibes again a year later in Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972). While an entertaining sequel, it's not as good as the original most likely due to speed in which the second feature was cranked out, most likely the intent being to capitalize as quickly as possible on the enormous popularity of the first...the result akin to something not cooked all the way through (i.e. half baked), but it's still entertaining and worthwhile if you enjoyed the first film.
A note for those interesting in picking up this film up on DVD...both The Abominable Dr. Phibes and Dr. Phibes Rises Again were originally released onto DVD individually, but then later re-released paired together as a DVD double feature, so if you're interested in owning both, try to locate the dual release, as it might be a better value (depending on availability, or course). "