Friday, May 6, 2022

Dr. Phibes Rises Again


Dr. Phibes Rises Again
Robert Fuest

Dr. Phibes (Vincent Price) literally rises from suspended animation again a mere three years after the events of The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971). Summoning a new assistant who’s face he didn’t melt off, the pair work to get Phibes’ dead wife, Victoria, to Egypt where the legendary River Life will be accessible for the first time in 2,000 years. The river can reportedly resurrect her and grant them both eternal lives. Another villain is looking for the same thing, one Mr. Darius Biederbeck (Robert Quarry), will he outsmart, Phibes?

Dr. Phibes Rises Again follows the same basic structure of The Abominable Dr. Phibes, Phibes bumps off various people through amusing disguises and themes. This time around it’s a number of elements from Egyptian mythology rather than plagues. The added spice in this outing is that we now have a competitor for the same goal, which should theoretically up the tension, but there is no question that Phibes is going to succeed. Phibes is far cleverer than anyone else and you want him to succeed, sure he’s a murderer but he’s doing for the love of his wife.


"Do you mind? I'm trying to play."

The character of Dr. Phibes is a tribute to the power of Price’s acting. Denied his one of his strongest acting tools, his voice, Phibes can only speak through an amplifier when he has access to one, otherwise he is forced to emote through his physicality. Despite these restrictions, Price still crafts a marvelous character. The rest of the cast is fine, but it’s hard to make much of an impression when you have Price dominating every scene he is in. This does create the problem with his nemesis, Biederbeck who is always one step behind and barely registers as a threat. I feel it would have been more interesting to have him be Phibes’ equal in every way.

While The Abominable Dr. Phibes reveled in deliberately arty and beautiful compositions, Dr. Phibes Rises Again, is a definite step down in that respect. It is still a beautiful and interesting film, but the methods of killing Phibes' enemies aren’t as creative and strange. There is a grandiosity that this film brings to its horror scenes that sits wonderfully at odds with strange and violent deaths that befall the victims. It is hard to escape the fact that Dr. Phibes Rises Again is a paler imitation of The Abominable Dr. Phibes but that still means it’s only slightly less brilliant.


What it feels like when you have anxiety
but also want to order a pizza.


Fans of Vincent Price and classic horror and going to have a great time. If you are a hopeless romantic, you might even find something here for you.  If you are a Saw franchise enthusiast, you can definitely see the DNA from this series in those films and I think you will find something to enjoy. Dr. Phibes Rises Again struggles a little to capture the magic of The Abominable Dr. Phibes, it still manages to be an enjoyable film in its own right.

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