Well this was one I’d been meaning to watch for a long time. The Abominable Dr Phibes of course stars my fave horror actor, Vincent Price. Filmed in 1971 I guess you could say this is one of Price’s later works as an actor.
Plot wise this one revolves around the thoroughly demented and horribly disfigured Dr Phibes. His abode is luxurious and presents rather well on the lavish film production. This part of the film is pure eye candy to look at. The cinematography is great, the colours and definition beyond many films of the 1970s. From the start this film gives off serious “Phantom of the Opera” vibes. This isn’t a bad thing either. It doesn’t take too long before the film starts to carve its own territory though.
When outlining plots it can be hard to decide what to narrate to the reader for fear of ruining the viewing experience. So this is what I’ll say. Dr Phibes is not dealing with the loss of his wife a few years earlier. He blames the medical profession for her death (we don’t find out about this until fairly late in film). Phibes decides to extract revenge on the medical profession by killing off the doctors one by one in gruesome fashion. After a few of the killings it becomes apparrant that the Dr has gone biblical on their asses by tying in the killings with the 10 plagues that Moses unleashed upon the Egyptians in the book of Exodus.
The reviews at the time were on the better end of mixed. Good but not excellent. With the passing of time I feel this movie has grown in esteem to a definite cult status. The movie is well thought out, the plot is timeless and the execution is nothing short of superb. This seems to be the gold standard that anything with Vincent Price in it achieves. I will admit (as I do every time I review something with Price in it) I have a major soft spot for him. He himself bestows a magic on the movie that few others could ever hope to do.
The horror in this is fairly low key, even though the concepts are quite macabre the violence itself is not too graphic. This means that basically anyone can watch it. This is a great piece of drama and storytelling in the style of the old Hammer films, despite not being produced by Hammer. I’d recommend it to anyone with an interest in old school films. Younger horror fans may have some trouble adjusting to the slower pace of these old films but I love them!
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