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Customer Review

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, but where are the witty corpse-making methods from Dr. Phibes' abominable past?, 2 Dec. 2007
This review is from: Dr Phibes Rises Again [DVD] [1972] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
Melt a package of Velveeta, add a can of jalapeno slices and you'll have a good dip for corn chips. The problem with this sequel to The Abominable Dr. Phibes is that this time Phibes ain't got no jalapenos. With Dr. Phibes Rises Again we have Phibes (Vincent Price) in Egypt, along with his preserved wife, Victoria, his silent assistant, the well-built Vulnavia, and his swinging automaton band. Can he find the headwaters of the River of Life, hidden under an ancient mountain within a lavish underground temple built by the now-vanished Egyptian pharaohs, before an obsessive and wealthy dilettante explorer, Darius Biederbeck (Robert Quarry), does? Will Dr. Phibes invent some intricate and painful deaths for those who get is his way...as in deaths by telephone receiver, giant gin bottle, claw, stinger, Henry James and sand particle (lots of them)? Will the bumbling police duo of Inspector Trout and Sir Wayne Waring show up to perform a vaudeville act of silly misunderstandings and pompous posturing? Will there be a number of good actors who seem to have wandered into the movie for a moment or two of cameo immortality, never to be seen again in the movie once they say their sentence or two, such as Peter Cushing, Beryl Reid, Hugh Griffin and Terry-Thomas? Even John Thaw shows up with curly brown hair 15 years before he became Inspector Morse. Is Dr. Phibes clunky and, for long stretches, simply dull? Warning: Spoilers. Yes to all the above.

The Abominable Dr. Phibes was great cheese, and witty in its Bible-based, corpse-producing methods. It also offered us one first-rate, sympathetic actor in a leading role, Joseph Cotten as Dr. Vesalius. If the first Dr. Phibes film was an unctuous slice of liverwurst, this one is simply an under-cooked blood-pudding, stuffed with bits of edible body organs but under-seasoned. Even Vincent Price's hamminess is held in check. He's constrained by the make-believe that he has to use an artificial speaking device (because of an encounter with acid). All his lines have been recorded separately, probably after filming, leaving him on camera to twitch a bit when we hear his voice.

To watch Price in all his hammy glory in witty vehicles of camp, comedy and corpses, try Theater of Blood and The Abominable Dr. Phibes. As for this film, well, it does no real damage except to Harold Arlen and E. Y. Harburg; the last thing we hear is Vincent Price singing "Over the Rainbow."
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