HMM Day 14 – The Abominable Dr. Phibes

When Dr. Anton Phibes blames the nine doctors for his wifes demise; a pathway of blood and slaughter ensues. Accompanied by his lovely assistant Vulnavia, Dr. Phibes will have his revenge!

The Abominable Dr. Phibes is a 1971 British horror movie directed by Robert Fuest and starring the legendary Vincent Price as the Dr. Phibes. The film would be followed up with a sequel in 1972 called Dr. Phibes Rises Again.

Price.jpgIf you were to break down the entire collection of Vincent Price, then it’s safe to say that The Abominable Dr. Phibes might be his most prominent character. While Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee were making their marks in Hammer style monster films. Vincent Price was most definitely winning the title for the icon of the macabre and gothic horror. Phibes is the crown jewel of 70’s gothic Hammer films and even today is such a fun and strange movie. For the horror enthusiast then this movie is a must. It reigns one of the top films during the Silver Age of horror.

Price Is Priceless

Mr. Vincent Price is one of my most favorite actors and all-around horror personalities. He was a common face of my childhood thanks to my father that introduced me to his Edgar Allen Poe films. Know one can compare to his demeanor and fanciful tones. This is an actor that left this world with an insane array of movies and accomplishments under his belt. Although known for his horror and macabre style of movies, he was also a very diverse actor. I remember watching VHS tapes of the Red Skelton show as a child. Price would be a re-occurring guest and was always hilarious in his ability to go from a staunch elite to then completely break character and do something unexpected. It always seemed like he was an actor that could have a good time. He was funny and charismatic, a real intellect; unlike the Hollywood elites we have today. Price was pure actor that seemed to truly love the world of horror. A sentiment you could hear in his voice.

The Price Of Fear

priceoffear.jpgIf you ever get a chance, check out his radio show called The Price of Fear. It was a horror/mystery BBC broadcast during the 70’s. He always narrated these awesome stories involving the macabre. Often times putting himself in the story. Kind of like a Murder She Wrote situation yet not a busy body that thinks she’s entitled to help the stupid cops. He was always caught in the vicinity of the death or event but never being responsible or personally effected. I’m actually a huge fan of classical radio, particularly horror radio. Lights Out, The Black Mass, Dimension X, The Sealed Book were all amazing shows. But The Price of Fear is one of my favorites because it’s Vincent Price hosting the show. That’s all you need! He was an amazing orator that gave each tale a diction of perfection. It’s a talent many people lack today, including myself.

You can listen to one of my favorites of his show. CLICK HERE

His Movies

His horror movie list is simply amazing! House on Haunted Hill, The Tingler, House of Wax, Master of the World, Last Man on Earth, The Monster Club, Dead Heat, Edward Scissorhands and of course The Abominable Dr. Phibes. The list goes on an on through so many generations. It’s almost like Vincent Price was timeless, meaning his personality and style passes on know matter the age. In fact, it does seem that as he aged, it only increased his presence on the screen. Becoming an iconic image and holding that style that know one else possessed. This is why I honor him and will always remember his work.

Back To Phibes

phibesfrog.jpgHere we follow a set of murders taking place. All of which involving a group of doctors and interestingly connected to one of the ten plagues of Egypt. The first doctor being killed with blood sucking vampire bats. The second having his head crushed by a frog mask represents the plague of frogs. The third death represents water turning to blood when Phibes literally drains the blood of his victim. He lays his drained blood in glass pints across the fire place mantle. So you get the point. Phibes was a professor of religious studies, so he uses these plagues… for reasons I can’t understand. If someone can let me now then that would be cool.

The murders continue and an Inspector from Scotland Yard begins to put the pieces together. All awhile this strange man that doesn’t speak and is accompanied by this beautiful young lady goes on this free range killing spree. Dr. Phibes is one of those movies that has creative deaths and shouldn’t be taken too seriously. Everyone knows vampire bats are harmless and don’t drink human blood at all. But it’s a great deal of fun and it’s entertaining to figure out each deaths associations to one of the ten plagues.

I love the actual character of Dr. Phibes. He never says a word because he lost his ability to talk in a car crash. So he has this custom made electrolarynx implanted into the side of this throat. He sticks this cable rod into it and can mimic his voice to come out of a phonograph. He wears these weird silk capes and his face is deathly pale. It’s just real creative and a trip to see.

The film has these weird moments where Dr. Phibes is leading his robotic orchestra deep in his lair. There he eulogizes to his victims existence by burning wax molds of their faces. I don’t know exactly what it implies, maybe burning their memory away or something. I think the wax molds is a tribute to his House of Wax movie. Other times there are strange scenes that he shares with Vulnavia where they dance, or eat out of place meals. He plays the organ while she appears with flowers. It’s all styled dramatically. I actually think Vulnavia and him are recounting moments Phibes remembers most with his wife. She kind of resembles his wife so it’s a way of reliving the memories of their love. But it’s these kinds of moments stick out in the film and it all leads to this massive ending where Phibes escapes the hands of the police. Just not in the way we would think.

Dr Phibes Is A Must

What I love about Dr. Phibes is the tone of the film. It has that Hammer style color effect and odd 70’s gothic scenery. His lair reminds me of the Phantom of the Opera’s, with a huge pipe organ at the top center of this huge psychedelic 70’s style. You have to ask yourself, where do people get the time and money to build these places? The best parts are when Phibes kills one doctor by putting rats (plague of vermin) into a guys plane. So when he goes up in the air they would bite him, inevitably causing him to crash. When the plane goes down, Phibes does this golf clap and prances around in splendor. It’s so dark and twisted but I laugh every time. That evil Dr. Phibes makes everyone pay and dances in victory to their demise! He’s evil and merciless and cares not for their justifications! So on the fourteenth day in Horror Movie Marathon, let us celebrate The Abominable Dr. Phibes or you too will feel his wrath!

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