The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971) / Z-View

The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971)

Director:  Robert Fuest

Screenplay:  James Whiton, William Goldstein

Starring:  Vincent Price, Joseph Cotton, Virginia North and Terry-Thomas

Tagline: Dr. Phibes has great vibes!

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Dr. Anton Phibes (Price) is out for revenge.  When Phibes learned his wife was in a terrible auto accident, he jumped in his car and raced to get to her.  Sadly, Phibes was also involved in a wreck.  Meanwhile, Dr. Phibes’ wife died on the operating table.

Four years later, disfigured due to his accident, Dr. Phibes is ready to extract his revenge on the doctors who failed to save his wife.  Phibes plots to kill each based on one of the Ten Plagues of Egypt.  After the third doctor is murdered, the police figure out Dr. Phibes is the killer.  Always a step behind the insane Dr. Phibes, the police continue to search for clues as the bodies pile up.

The Abominable Dr. Phibes is supposed to be a dark comedy, but there aren’t any real laughs.  Dr. Phibes often kills his victims using elaborate Rube Goldbergesque contraptions.  In between murders he spends time dancing with his mute assistant with music provided by his large wind-up animatrons.  The advertising for Dr. Phibes – “Love Means Never Having to Say You’re Ugly” – “Dr. Phibes has great vibes” – indicates they weren’t sure how to sell the film to the public.  Once you’ve seen the film, that is understandable.

The Abominable Dr. Phibes isn’t a great film or a bad film.  It’s a strange film.  For that reason The Abominable Dr. Phibes rates 2 of 5 stars.