The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971)

abominable dr phibes poster 1971 movie vincent price
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Vincent Price always has fun with his roles, creative deaths

Story is pretty generic

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Abominable Dr. Phibes

Studio:  Anglo-EMI Film Distributors Ltd.

Genre(s):  Horror

Release Date(s):  May 18, 1971 (US)

MPAA Rating:  PG-13

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Oh no! A bat that eats fruit is crawling on me!!!

Dr. Anton Phibes (Vincent Price) lost his wife in a surgery and his face in an accident which occurred during as he was mourning.  Now, Dr. Phibes is back and using his genius mental ability to enact revenge against the doctors and nurses he blames for his wife’s death!  With mechanical allies and a girl aide, Phibes is out for blood and he has taken lessons of retribution directly from the Bible to do it!

Directed by Robert Fuest, The Abominable Dr. Phibes was released to positive reviews.  The Vincent Price horror film over the years has gained a cult following, spawned a sequel, and had plans for a series of sequels that never came to fruition.

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Just part of Phibes’ weirdness

Vincent Price was a master of the horror film, but The Abominable Dr. Phibes is one of his films which has gone on after his death with more legs than some of his other entries.  The movie udder weirdness helps propel it forward, and Price’s over-the-top performance also makes Phibes one of his better horror films.

Price always was tied to Edgar Allen Poe stories through multiple semi-adaptations of his stories.  Phibes isn’t an adaptation of any Poe story, but it does feel like it.  His revenge and the methods in which he utilizes for his revenge are based on the plagues of the Bible (with some modification due to technical reasons).  I particularly like when the “vampire bats” are crawling all over the guy…but they just used the generally docile (but huge) flying fox in place of the vampire bat.  What could have been a simple movie (more akin to Theater of Blood) actually ends up being a strange fun ride due to these weird deaths.

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I told you to use Deep Woods Off!

Price is the star of the movie.  He doesn’t “talk” until much later in the movie, but like with many of his films, you can tell he is just having fun with the role.  Even working under heavy make-up and just voiceovers, Price does manage to make the role his.  There are tons of supporting characters including Joseph Cotten as one of the targets of Phibes.  A story from set involves Cotten being upset with his dialogue and that Price did not have to really learn any…and Price revealed that he had his dialogue and the rest of the script memorized as well.

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Nice mask…you should have done something with your eyes.

The visuals of the film are also fun.  Price’s plaster face appearance (and true burn appearance) are decent, but things like the clockwork band, a funky feel (even though the film is supposed to be set in the ‘20s), and the bizarre deaths keep the movie interesting.  The Abominable Dr. Phibe’s unique death/murders could easily be traced down the line to modern horror films like Saw (Saw actually used the key “inserted” into a person as one of the traps).

The Abominable Dr. Phibes is a fun film and worth seeking out for fans of horror or Price.  The movie has been collected in multiple ways and is usually sold with the follow-up film Dr. Phibes Rises Again! from 1972.

Related Links:

Dr. Phibes Rises Again! (1972)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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