31 Days of Horror: The Abominable Dr. Phibes

Tomorrow the theatres will be bombarded with yet another crappy Saw movie. But before Jigsaw came around to keep Lions Gate in the green - Vincent Price was torturing and killing people in needlessly complex death traps way back in the 1970's.

The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971) features Price as a horribly disfigured doctor who blames nine other doctors for the death of his beautiful wife (the uncredited Caroline Munro). He along with his beautiful but mute assistant Vulnavia (Virginia North) murder each of the doctors using one of the ten plagues as inspiration. A plague of frogs involves a costume party with a mechanical frog's head that slowly crushes the wearer's throat. The plague of blood involves removing all the blood from Price's victim. You get the idea.

The movie is a weird combination of humor, gore and some strange surreal scenes. Out of no where - Phibes and his assistant break into a ballroom dance sequence. Yet the film works as a whole. Price is his usual fiendish self and he manages to play his role without once moving his lips. Joseph Cotten (Citizen Kane, The Third Man, Gaslight) plays the head doctor that Price blames.

Director Robert Fuest spent most of his career directing TV. From The Avengers to a bunch of ABC Afterschool Specials although he did direct the very cool thriller And Soon the Darkness (1970). Fuest also directed the sequel to this film Dr. Phibes Rises Again with Price reprising his role as Phibes and Robert Quarry (Count Yorga, Vampire) is Phibes' adversary this time out. There was suppose to more Phibes films but fortunately they quit while they were ahead. The same can't be said about the Saw films.

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