The Abominable Dr. Phibes
Film: The Abominable Dr. Phibes
Director: Robert Fuest
Writer: James Whiton and William Goldstein
Starring: Vincent Price, Joseph Cotton and Hugh Griffith
This film begins with a man playing an organ. He is very good at it and the melody is haunting. From there he cranks up a group of mechanical band players that play a songs as well. We see this man get into his car, which is kind of funny that they have windows with an image of a man that is sitting in the back; he is played by Vincent Price. He is helped out by a beautiful woman, played by Virginia North.
We go to a man’s house as he goes to bed. A skylight opens and a covered bird cage is lowered in. The sheet is removed and both are raised back up. There were a bunch of bats inside of it. They wake him up and kill him. The police arrive the next day and the lead detective, who is played by Peter Jeffrey, is told about a coincidence in another case where a doctor who died earlier in the week with bees in his study.
We go back to Price’s place and see him remove a necklace with a weird medallion on it. He places around the neck of a wax mannequin and then burns its face. The thing is that it looks like the man he just killed. We also get the idea that he is deformed somehow and we learn later that is because he was in a car crash that burned him. We see him putting on fake ears and a nose.
There are quite a few more deaths that follow the plagues of ancient Egypt, that include a frog mask, draining of blood, extreme cold, a bronze unicorn, rats, goop with grasshoppers and the first born with acid. Will Price get his revenge on the doctors that were led by Joseph Cotton and unable to save his wife? Or will the police pick up his trail before he can?
This film was a solid horror film. I am a big fan of these Price films were he uses something from the past to create murders that he is committing. This one was highly interesting with how smart he was and by using the deadly plagues of Egypt from the bible. I had an issue with some of the deaths, because they were a little bit implausible. It does not ruin the film and without worrying about that, I thought it was creative.
As for the acting, Price is fantastic in his of role. He was creepy and we get that he has lost his mind after what happened to his wife. We also see that he is highly intelligent, which makes this even worse for those he is focused on punishing. Cotton isn’t introduced until almost halfway through, but he is good in his role. I liked Jeffrey as well, but there were a little bit too much comedy from him and the police. I liked the comedy, but I think the police are just a little too inept. I think part of that was to show how intelligent Price is, but I think it could have added more if they weren’t as bumbling as they are.
With that said though, the film is excellent if you want to see a 70s horror flick with a good story and isn’t overly gory. Price is at one of his best in this role. It also has a good supporting cast and does well to build tension of seeing whether Price will complete his mission or if the cops will stop him. This one is definitely worth a viewing.
My Rating: 7 out of 10