‘Love means never having to say you’re ugly.’
Directed by Robert Fuest
Written by James Whiton, William Goldstein and Robert Fuest
There are few films that one can say are entirely unique, but Vincent Price’s 100th movie, the Abominable Dr. Phibes can be said to be among that select group. Stunning set design, an exemplary cast and a plot made of comedic murderous set pieces pale to the real draw which is perhaps Price’s most moving performance as the musicologist turned blood-crazed mad killer, Dr, Phibes.
Seeking revenge for the failure of nine medical professionals to save his ailing wife from death, Phibes concocts a series of bizarre and over the top killings drawing inspiration from the ten plagues of the bible. The formula is rather simple, we watch Phibes set up his elaborate death trap, the police are far too late and then Phibes celebrates with a musical number performed by his clockwork band. Because of the breathtaking design work the date of the movie rather nebulous, seeming to take place in a mixture of the 1920’s and the late 60’s. Because of his extensive facial damage, Phibes cannot speak without an external apparatus, demanding that Price more or less perform as a mute throughout the entire movie. With any other actor, this could have been disastrous, but Price shines with small and large facial expressions of joy, annoyance and outright rage at his enemies.
An Avengers alum, Fuest is also renowned for his involvement as writer and designer for The Final Programme (aka The Last Days of Man on Earth) in 1973. If you are unfamiliar with his work, you need to get acquainted. A bit early for the Halloween season, this movie is highly recommended.
Not content with the success of the initial film and a sequel, by Goldstein also penned a prequel, ‘In the Beginning,’ that he hopes to develop into a film project… possibly with Johnny Depp as a young Phibes. Yeah… Johnny Depp.