The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971)

Rating : 

A film whose murders are inspired by the 10 plagues of Egypt, The Abominable Dr. Phibes is a classic British movie starring Vincent Price as the titular character who goes on the stylish killing spree to revenge his dead wife.

A very imaginative film that I feel doesn’t get the recognition it deserves nowadays.

The movie is actually very imaginative even if the deaths are imitations of the 10 plagues, the use of the plagues is interestingly done.

It isn’t forced to stick with the biblical 10 plagues, after all we open the movie with a man being killed by a group of bats, and it uses the 10 plagues to make all the deaths extremely unique.

Price himself plays a muted character, we never get to hear him speak but his very expressive face says more then needed.

The film is easy to watch, it is paced well and flows from scene to scene effortlessly. The soundtrack is elegant and works well with the scenes we see on screen.

At its heart though it is some strange kind of love story and that is the thing I like about it most. I’m no fan of love stories but I liked the fact that it gave the Doctor some real meaning. He is a former Doctor and concert pianist. It is pretty much the weirdest combination I could think of, he was horribly disfigured and he’s doing this to revenge the wife that he lost. It is a honorable cause and the story is told really well.

It kind of feels (in modern terms) a bit like Phantom of the Opera meets The Mummy.

In the end the 10th plague, that of Darkness, is brought upon Phibes by himself. He entombs himself with his wife.

The wonderful way of using the plagues as a template for some very different kinds of deaths along with the strong story binding the Doctor to his cause makes this film so enjoyable. It doesn’t ever feel like just something happening for the sake of it, it never feels like it has been rushed or that it fails in telling parts of the story, it is a thoughtful and fun film.

Plus I am a giant fan of Vincent Price who I think was beyond brilliant in this film. He really was what made it so strong.

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