The Abominable Dr. Phibes 1971

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(47) IMDb 7.2/10
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Long thought dead, the victim of a horrible accident, Dr. Anton Phibes (Vincent Price) still lives, surrounded by art-deco bric-a-brac and attended by mute beauty Vulnavia (Virginia North). Outwardly normal in appearance, Phibes actually wears a rubber mask, covering his hideously deformed countenance; giving away the artifice is the fact that, when he dines, he takes his food through his neck rather than his mouth. Able to speak only when plugging a wire into his damaged vocal chords, Phibes elucidates his plan to murder the medical team whom he holds responsible for the death of his wife. Each of the killings is patterned after the ten deadly plagues. Phibes saves his worst for last: trapping chief surgeon Dr. Vesalius in his lair, Phibes forces the hapless medico into a race against time to save the life of his own son.~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

Starring:
Joseph Cotten, Vincent Price
Rental Formats:
DVD, Blu-ray

Product Details

Discs
  • Feature ages_15_and_over
Runtime 1 hour 30 minutes
Starring Joseph Cotten, Vincent Price, Caroline Munro
Director Robert Fuest
Genres Horror, Thriller
Studio MGM
Rental release Limited availability
Main languages English
Discs
  • Feature ages_15_and_over
Runtime 1 hour 30 minutes
Starring Joseph Cotten, Vincent Price, Caroline Munro
Director Robert Fuest
Genres Horror, Thriller
Studio ARROW FILMS
Rental release 10 November 2014
Main languages English

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Victor HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on 12 Oct. 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This must be one of the greatest tales of revenge ever told. The abominable Dr. Phibes is on the rampage, finding inventive ways to bump off the team of doctors he blames for his wife's death.

Don't worry about the silly premise, the plot holes, or the anachronisms - just sit back and enjoy the fun. Vincent Price shines as Phibes, it's amazing how much he manages to do with the character given that he can only mime facial expression to a pre-recorded voiceover. He makes the character a believable genius psychopath, bringing just the right amount of creepiness and humour to the part.

It is the sense of humour that is the key to this film. If it was just a run of the mill psycho revenge movie it wouldn't work. But by using a cast of gifted comic actors and adding a touch of macabre humour to several key scenes the film is lifted to great heights. Who can forget Terry Thomas' reaction to the beautiful Vulnavia walking into his room? Or Hugh Griffiths as the strangely Welsh sounding Rabbi?

This is decent budget DVD release. The film is presented in the original 1.85:1 widescreen, with a mono soundtrack. There has been no remastering, but the picture is nice and clean with a minimum of artefacts. Extras are limited to the original theatrical trailers which are quite interesting.

Not a film to be taken seriously, this is enormously entertaining and is highly recommended to anyone who enjoys a black comedy
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By ds VINE VOICE on 11 Aug. 2011
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
From the stable of producer Samuel Z Arkoff comes the delightfully trashy story of Dr Anton Phibes, his not quite dead wife and the vendatta to end all vendettas. Phibes' wife, (Victoria) lies in state of sleep, not quite alive, not quite dead. And her devoted husband Anton blames 9 surgeons for this state of affairs. To this end he devises a series of increasingly elaborate, biblically themed demises for the men he holds responsible.

The comedy is blacker than black, the whole ambience is rather kitsch, camp and teetering on the precipice of rather knowing self parody, particularly in the case of Price himself. That the film holds together is a testament to the strange mix of tenderness, pathos and steely malevolence Price brings to his role. Even better, he manages to do it without ever opening his mouth: Phibes only seems to be able to speak by plugging himself into an amplifier. He's supported more than ably by stalwarts like Joseph Cotten and the wonderfully hapless Detective Inspector Trout, nicely played by Peter Jeffrey. There are even some rather spiffy cameos from the likes of Terry-Thomas; a most unwilling blood donor!

The set design is the oddest thing about the film, though. Everything is a weird mix of the gleaming modernist 70's (see Cotten's home), the art deco of the hospital the characters find themselves in towards the end of the film and the rather more Edwardian appearance of Trout's office and the uniformed policeman's uniforms. It makes it very difficult to say exactly when this film is supposed to be set, but at the same time gives it a rather more timeless feel. All that said, the visual design is in keeping with the character of the film itself, a strange mix of the old and the new.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Su TOP 100 REVIEWER on 6 Dec. 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Dr Anton Phibes (the late great Vincent Price) is out for revenge on those who's incompetance killed his wife Victoria (Caroline Monroe) with the help of his beautiful but mute assistant Vulnavia (VIrginia North).

In the firing line are the likes of Terry Thomas who plays Dr Longstreet a porn mad surgeon who suffers the curse of blood. Joseph Cotton plays Dr Vesalius, a part that was originally meant for Peter Cushing, but Mr Cushing's wife was very ill at the time and he had to withdraw from the filming.

All the deaths follow the plagues of Egypt: curse of boils, bats, frogs, the curse of blood, the curse of rats, hail, of beasts, the locust, of course, the death of the first-born, and then, finally, of darkness.

It is one of those films where you want the bad guy to win, and played to the campest level possible. Inspector Trout (Peter Jeffrey) and Sgt Schenley (Norman Jones) add extra comic relief to the film.

A great piece of escapism, that I remember from my childhood along with the Friday night Hammer Horror movies. Absolutely wonderful regardless of the fact that there are no extras.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Charles Vasey TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 27 Jun. 2013
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This tale of revenge would barely be considered horror these days; and in truth I don't think it was even back then (1971). The clever methods of killing lacking something of the fear of the feral. Following very much in the style of British high-sheen rather campy crime series like the Avengers Dr Phibes takes his revenge against various blood-letters in a predictable order with attractive young women in attendance; the interestingly named Vulnavia was played by the young lady who became Gordon White's wife. What really holds the film together is the performance of the various British coppers; all of whom have escaped from Central Casting. Joseph Cotten acts with a patrician aura.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Lawrance Bernabo HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on 22 Dec. 2003
Format: VHS Tape
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.
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