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DVD REVIEW: The Abominable Dr Phibes & Dr Phibes Rises Again

| 29 August 2014 | Reply

DVD REVIEW: The Abominable Dr Phibes & Dr Phibes Rises Again
Shock Entertainment Cinema Cult Reissues
April 2014
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar
8/10 and 7/10

The Abominable Dr Phibes   Dr Phibes Rises Again cover

Vincent Price brought his creepy best to the Dr Phibes character over these two cult classics from 1971 and 1972, about the horribly disfigured titular character who is desperate to avenge his wife Victoria’s death in a car crash.

Featuring all the camp joy of British ‘70s horror, The Abominable Dr Phibes sees Price’s mute Phibes (he talks through a voicebox device pressed to his neck) and his silent, beautiful aide-de-murder Vulnavia (Virginia North) take on the surgical team who failed to save Mrs Phibes after their crash.

Using ever-more-imaginative methods of torturous death based on the biblical plagues of Egypt, Phibes dispenses with all but the last of his foes, then – just ahead of the barely competent Police investigating the murders – retires to his tomb with his late wife and self-embalms ready for awakening at a later date.

It’s a cult success not only for its horror stylings, but for its art deco design and super-hip (for the time) style in general – as well as the funky organ playing of Phibes and his robotic jazz band!

The follow-up lacks some of the imaginative style and class of the original, but retains a decent plot – the reanimated Phibes ventures into Egypt to find the River Of Life to bring his wife back from the dead – and another plethora of gruesome killings to keep things interesting.

Vulnavia is back – albeit played by a different actress, Aussie model Valli Kemp – as is the Police team of Trout and Waverley (Peter Jeffrey and John Cater), and a new competitor for the secrets he chases: Robert Quarry’s Darrus Biederbeck, himself looking for the River to perpetuate his own life as the elixer which has kept him alive for 300 years has run out.

There’s more tongue in cheek humour than in the original, and as Phibes floats off down the River Of Life singing Over The Rainbow at the end, steering the canoe containing his beloved wife and leaving Biederbeck to wither and, presumably, die, we’re left with our own imagination to guess whether Victoria and Phibes find their rebirth or not.

Further sequels were proposed, but none eventuated, likewise an ‘80s reboot of the franchise. So far, these two movies encapsulate the Phibes legend, and they remain great examples of early British horror.

Category: Movie & Theatre Reviews

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