The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971)

Posted: July 7, 2014 in Movie Review
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Directed By: Robert Fuest

Starring: Vincent Price, Joseph Cotten, Peter Jeffrey, Virginia North, Caroline Munroe

Synopsis: Dr. Phibes, believed to be dead, seeks revenge on a group of doctors that were on hand when his wife died on the operating table while detectives race to stop him.

Thoughts: Before there was Jigsaw, there was Dr. Phibes. In all honesty, I watched a handful of Saw movies before seeing this Vincent Price classic, but it didn’t take long at all to see that this movie had at least some influence on the perennial Halloween offering. Dr. Phibes uses elaborate traps to mimic the Ten Plagues of Egypt in his quest for vengeance. Some traps are rather elaborate, such as the Frog mask, while others are little more than releasing bats into a bedroom.

As is in the case of so many of his films, Vincent Price shines here. Without a doubt, this is one of Price’s oddest characters. Between his makeup and the fact that he cannot speak using conventional methods, Price was forced to really use facial expressions and his eyes to communicate. The result is a wonderful portrayal of a man hell-bent on revenge and more than a little bit insane.

The supporting cast comes together to deliver an oddly humorous and campy movie. Joseph Cotten, one of my all-time favorite actors (the guy starred for Orson Welles, Hitchcock and Mario Bava!), plays the ultimate object of Phibe’s vengeance and does a phenomenal job. He’s about the only one in the entire movie that plays his character “straight” as the detectives are both rather bumbling in their approach. Although she wasn’t credited, the gorgeous Caroline Munroe plays Phibe’s wife. Whenever I watch these older movies and see the icons that starred in them, I think of the movies that are out today, and who we will consider icons in 30 or 40 years.

Vincent Price starred in several great genre movies, but this is one of his most iconic. This is a fabulous movie and well worth checking out. It also happens to be part of the amazing Scream Factory Vincent Price collection, something that belongs in every collection.


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