The Abominable Dr. Phibes
A string of elaborate murders leads Inspector Trout (Peter Jeffrey) to believe that Dr. Anton Phibes (Vincent Price), an expert in music and theology, didn’t die in a car accident after all. More and more people fall to Phibes wave of death, as he dispatches a group of doctors and nurses, whom he blames for the death of his wife. The murders take the form of the ten biblical plagues of Egypt. Trout and one of the doctors on Phibes' kill list, race to stop him before he completes his sinister plan.
I was simply not expecting The Abominable Dr. Phibes to be as gleefully dark and strange as it was. In my head, I had conflated it with another Vincent Price movie, Theater of Blood (1973) which also features him dispatching people in various amusingly themed ways. This particular film is a lush black comedy with a heavy dose of surrealism; it feels like it might co-exist in the same universe as Phantom of the Paradise (1974).
|"Go ahead and gong me... I dare you."|
One of the most startling elements of the film is its music. Like its central character, the score is grandiose, humorous, and occasionally sad. The story will take the occasional break to allow Phibes’ own mechanical band to perform a musical number. Since Phibes was a expert in music, it stands to reason that it would be prominent in the film. Director Furest takes risks and as a result, gives the whole production yet another interesting facet that elevates it from being just another bombastic horror movie score.
|Take that, Pepe.|
Colorful, funny, and occasionally grim, The Abominable Dr. Phibes is expertly crafted and performed. An outstanding horror film, and worthy of cult status.