The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971)

Movie Title: The Abominable Dr. Phibes

Year Released: 1971

Rated: PG-13

Runtime: 1h 34min

Genre: Comedy, Horror

Director: Robert Fuest

Writer: James Whiton and William Goldstein

Starring: Vincent Price, Joseph Cotten, Virginia North, Terry-Thomas, Sean Bury, Susan Travers, David Hutcheson, Edward Burnham, Alex Scott, Peter Gilmore, Maurice Kaufmann, Peter Jeffrey, Derek Godfrey, Norman Jones, John Cater

Review: After surviving a car wreck, a disfigured man (Vincent Price) seeks revenge on the surgical team that was unable to save his wife. He deems all nine of them responsible for her death and begins killing them one-by-one using the plagues of Egypt as inspiration. Can the authorities put a stop to these diabolical deaths or will they all be murdered at the merciless hands of The Abominable Dr. Phibes?

Heralded as Vincent Price's 100th film (which it was not), The Abominable Dr. Phibes is a remarkable movie for both Price and for the horror genre. It may be your basic revenge story, but this time around you have one of the most unique and stylish villains to grace the screen and you have arguably the greatest actor of the genre bringing this madman to life.

As Dr. Phibes, Vincent Price really shows just how good he is with a character that can only speak when he's plug himself into a Victrola and who's face is inexpressive due to the heavy makeup. Where all of that must seem like a detriment to both the actor and character, Price takes it on as a challenge and creates one of the most memorable villains he has ever portrayed in his stellar career.

The Abominable Dr. Phibes is a very theatrical movie with it's delightful Art Deco sets, whimsical musical selections, and lavish costumes - all of which stick with you and entice you to re-watch again and again. And the kills are silly as they are sadistic. From locusts, rats, and bats, oh my!, Dr. Phibes really knows how to put on a show for his victims. You'll cringe with delight as each one pays for their crimes again the good doctor and his lovely wife Victoria (Caroline Munro).

This is a very funny movie too, with tongue firmly in cheek. The cast, script, and director know it all too well. Peter Jeffrey as Scotland Yard's Inspector Trout is hilarious as the man trying to figure out what ties these unusual deaths together. And of course Price is loving ever madcap minute of this campy horror classic.

This is definitely one of Price's best movies! I highly recommend it to fans of the man, and to horrors in general. The Abominable Dr. Phibes is unique in every way and is an unforgettable viewing experience. Whether you're laughing or screaming you'll be having the time of your afterlife.

Stars (out of 4):

Fun Fact: Vincent Price often cracked up during filming, wrecking his makeup.


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