Not since Dante came up with appropriate eternal punishments for those sent to the Inferno has there been such a macabre genius for taking vengeance as "The Abominable Dr. Phibes." The title character, played to the hilt and beyond by Vincent Price, seeks revenge upon the nine doctors he feels are responsible for the death of his beloved wife, Victoria. As inspiration, Anton Phibes uses the Plagues of Egypt, knocking off victims (including Terry-Thomas) with frogs, locusts and the like with the help of his silent assistant Vulnavia (Virginia North), while playing his grand pipe organ. Poor Inspector Trout (Peter Jeffrey) tries to get one step ahead of the Good Doctor, but he cannot even keep up as the murders progress. Phibes saves the best for last: Dr. Vesalius (Joseph Cotten), the man who botched the operation, at least in Phibes twisted view. By this point Phibes is up to the Death of the First Born and Dr. Vesalius has to operate on his son to the boy from suffering the same fate as Phibes.
"The Abominable Dr. Phibes" is like "Richard III" and "Silence of the Lambs" in that you find yourself rooting for the villain. This might be camp but it is done with such style and flair, not to mention a macabre (if not sick) humor. I love the fact that Vincent Price does all of his lines as a sort of disembodied voice. His lips never move, a result of having his character's mouth currently being in the side of his neck (what did you expect in a film that is so tongue in cheek?). This 1971 film, directed by Robert Fuest, was scripted by James Whiton and William Goldstein, a pair of decidedly sick human beings. Followed the next year by "Dr. Phibes Rises Again," Price did another camp revenge film, "Theater of Blood" in 1973. But be warned: most women do not consider these films appropriate for dates.