Review of Dr. Phibes Rises Again
Vincent Price had already made his name as a Master of the Macabre in the movies he had made with Roger Corman and American International Pictures, when in the early 1970s he came to the UK to make three of the most camp horror film classics of all time.
All three movies were (ahem) blood relations of The Avengers tv series, with Mr Price dealing death and destruction in the most imaginative and stylish ways. One (Theatre of Blood) featured the original and inimitable Mrs Peel herself - Diana Rigg. The other two, the Phibes films, were directed by frequent Avengers designer and director Robert Fuest. Like The Avengers, the emphasis was on style, and a host of guest stars including Robert Morley, Peter Cushing, Peter Jeffrey, Beryl Reid and Terry-Thomas were to make appearances.
"The Abominable Dr Phibes" introduced the eponymous Doctor, played by a waxen-featured Price. The pasty features were, in fact, a mask. His features had been destroyed by an accident which left his beloved wife Victoria (Caroline Munro) on the brink of death. After what Phibes saw as a botched attempt to save her life, he brought down the plagues of Egypt on the surgical team who had failed him.
"Dr Phibes Rises Again" sees the Doctor on the rampage again, seeking the elixir of life to rejuvenate his deep frozen bride. This time he is doing away with the competition on an expedition across the desert to find the subterranean river of life. With Scotland Yard`s finest (Peter Jeffrey) on his trail, Phibes has satanic Egyptologist Robert Quarry`s expedition to contend with. This means sticky ends for rentagoon Milton Reid, Lewis Fiander and John Thaw.
Presented in widescreen anamorphic 1.85:1, this MGM release is a typical bare-bones one. The R1 version is part of the studio`s "Midnight Movies" strand. Colours are vivid, and contrast is excellent, although film grain and quite heavy print wear and tear is evident.
Slightly tinny, but typical for the era, sound is reproduced in DD2.0 mono.
There is a fun theatrical trailer and full subtitles for the main feature, but that`s it. Static menus.
Dr Phibes, or "the Abominable" to his friends, has to be the campest creation in the annals of horror. You`re more likely to find yourself chuckling at some of the ingenious demises than hiding behind your fingers. Watch out for big, bald Milton Reid doing his standard exotic goon routine. The amount of planning involved in his demise would do Wile E. Coyote proud. A classic.
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