Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971)

Cinema Sweetheart's Rating: 5 out of 10
Director: Robert Fuest
Starring: Vincent Price, Joseph Cotton, Hugh Griffith, and Terry-Thomas
Rated: PG-13
Genre: Horror
Run Time: 94 minutes
Sequel: Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972)

When a group of doctors all begin to die in mysterious circumstances, the murders are linked to madman Anton Phibes, a scholar and theologian who considers them responsible for the death of his wife several years previously.

Dr. Phibes is a dreadfully creepy film, sometimes thrilling, all times suspenseful, and often down right vile.  Dr. Anton Phibes, played by horror film master Vincent Price, attempts to avenge the death of his beautiful wife Victoria by killing all the doctors who performed the surgery she died during.  Of course, a good horror film needs more than just a simple string of murders, and Dr. Phibes does not disappoint.  All of the murders committed are reminiscent of the Biblical plagues, such as locusts, rats, blood, and the death of the first born child.  It's a very creepy movie and often, the murders are pretty disturbing.  I enjoy a good scare every once in a while, but seeing a man being completely drained of his blood via IV, or another being eaten by rats is rather unsettling to me.  Several sources actually say that The Abominable Dr. Phibes was actually the inspiration for the Saw movies, and while I haven't seen them (and honestly don't plan to) I can believe that this would inspire something as gruesome as Saw.
Vincent Price was wonderful as the title role.  Because his character wears a "flesh" mask to cover his horrendously deformed face, he is unable to communicate with facial expressions, and for the most part relies on just his eyes, which get quite a few creepy close-ups.  The other thing I found to be interesting is Price's vocal roles.  In the accident that disfigured him, Phibes loses the ability to talk, but using a strange phonograph device, he is able to talk though his throat in a broken, choppy dialogue.  Personally, I just adore Vincent Price's voice, and it was weird hearing him talk this way.  But, even with his words a bit garbled and broken, he's still amazing.

If you enjoy old horror films or Vincent Price, I would highly recommend this to you.  If you're really not a fan of either one, then perhaps you would be better off watching something a little more pleasant.  I'm a Vincent Price fan, so for me, this was totally worth it.

**This movie has 1 bonus feature!**


  1. Why did you give this a 5 out of 10?

  2. This was when I was first starting my blog (as I'm sure you've noticed, lol) and this movie rather grossed me out at several parts and scared the shit out of me at others. Because of that, I gave it a lower rating. However, since this is more of an archive blog than anything else, if I rewatch a film, I usually consider changing the rating. And if I look at this more like a reviewer than as a general viewer, I would probably rate it higher; thank you for pointing that out, actually.


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