A real classic of horror movies! Absolutely unmissable.
I think it’s one of the best English horrors of all times and it inspired many of the most recent horror movies. Sam Raimi and his “Darkman”, “The Saw”, “Seven” … they’re just some examples.
Nine killed her; nine shall die! Eight have died, soon to be nine.Nine eternities in doom!Dr. Phibes
London, 1920s. Dr. Anton Phibes, theologist and organist, had a car crash. His wife dies in the hospital, during a surgical operation, but Phibes survives hideously disfigured and unable to speak.
Together with his assistant, Vulnavia, he plots his revenge on the medical team which couldn’t save the beloved wife, whose corpse is now preserved in formaldehyde into a tomb designed for two.
In order to succeed at his nefarious purpose, Phibes plans his murders with a precise punishment pattern: he follows the themes of the plagues of Egypt.
The Inspector Trout will try to stop him, with the support of Dr. Vesalius (probably a tribute to the anatomist Andrea Vesalio), who was the chief of the medical team and the only one who believes the story.
I will have killed nine times in my life, Dr. Vesalius. How many murders can be attributed to you?Dr. Phibes
Directed by Robert Fuest, the movie was released in 1971.
The structure of the movie is quite classical and elegant, but it has also many brilliant solutions and it never loses the right rhythm: atrocious and violent deaths turn into macabre laughter.
Thanks to the interpretation of a great Vincent Price, the character of Anton Phibes gains a strong connotation of melancholy and pain. Unfortunately, we cannot see all the usual dramatic expressions of Vincent Price because of his role of “mask” that Dr. Phibes has to wear, but, despite all this, he is able to give life to an extraordinary character just with looks and moves. He never says a word in the entire movie, because Dr. Phibes lost his voice and has to use a mechanical device connected to his vocal cords when he wants to communicate.
He is some kind of a mad-scientist, whose morbid and tragic cruelty is perfectly balanced by the humor typical of the horror-comedy genre. The clumsy investigations of Scotland Yard, the locusts with the Brussels sprouts, the unicorn head…
The entanglement integrates perfectly in a spectacular and psychedelic movie, where the laboratory of the anti-hero is provided of a mannequin orchestra, a colorful pipe organ and an assistant, Vulnavia, who never speaks and whose name is pronounce only at the end of the film.
The climax of drama reaches its top in the final scenes, when Phibes, injecting formaldehyde into his veins, lays down into the tomb next to his wife Victoria Regina Phibes to rest with her forever.
Vulnavia, my work is almost complete. Go and destroy all that I have created.Dr. Phibes
The abominable Dr. Phibes is a movie that must be seen by all the fans of the horror genre.
I really liked it because both its elegance and its apparent naivety hide a dreadful violence.
This film is one of my father’s favourite horror movie
and I dedicate this post to him!
by Alice Colombo
Photo source: web images