Movie Review: THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES (1971)

Saluations my screechers, screamers, and scary dreamers,

Tonight’s tale of terror entitled “The Abominable Dr. Phibes” details a deformed doctor deviously destroying clinicians he considers culpable of killing his wife.  Wickedly wielding Egyptian evils, Phibes ferociously seeks satisfaction, stumps Scotland Yard, uses carnivorous critters to kill, and enacts an acid assault on an adolescent.

Price produced a plethora of pictures chronicling corrupt crusades of violent vengeance.  Concerning quests of savage spite, does Dr. Phibes fall short or soar?

The film’s conceit is fairly conventional but the execution makes it special by having the two lead actors play it restrained as the plot gets more and more hair-brained.  The level of absurdity is ample so to demonstrate I will offer this example: Dr. Phibes is a philosopher and concert pianist who is using the Ten Plagues of Egypt to enact a revenge quest.  Even when we are presented with a silliness of Phibes taking a drink, this picture smartly avoids giving the audience a wink.

The production value is of particular note as it takes a story that could have been rote and turns it into something more through the use of sets and a kicking score.  Dr. Phibes’ secret lair is all decked out with art deco flair and to keep himself entertained he has on hand a self-created automaton band.  His organ centerpiece lowers to his hidden room where he can lament his lost wife and plan his enemy’s doom.

Creepy crawly critters commonly compose the cruel and creative kills.  Claustrophobic camera close-ups perfectly portray the panic pertaining to the pernicious pests.  Rodent related revenge routines refine into Rube Goldberg gadgets of gore.

Story/Concept: 1
Direction/Style: 2
Scares: 1
Atmosphere: 2
Rewatchability: 2

TOTAL: 8/10

In summation, those looking for a mild fright are sure to find this movie a delight and this film proves especially fun for fans of Vincent Price and Joseph Cotten.  Even though some may consider this to be over the top the creative elements really make this picture pop.

Stick to the shadows my fine friends.

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