A crazed doctor plans to murder the nine
doctors he believes caused the death of his wife.
The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971)
Directed by Robert Fuest
Written by James Whiton and William Goldstein
Starring Vincent Price, Joseph Cotton, Virginia North,
Peter Jeffrey, Terry-Thomas, Norman Jones, John Cater
I had heard decent things about The Abominable Dr. Phibes prior to sitting down and watching it. I'd heard it was the quintessential Vincent Price movie, and one of the best cult horror films of the early 70's. Imagine my disappointment. Dr. Phibes is a dull affair, held together only by Price's imaginative performance. It's incredibly difficult to get invested in the story, mostly because a lot of the characters are trying way too hard to be funny, despite the film's lack of any comedic tone. This constant battle between horror and comedy never comes together, and makes for an indecisive watching experience.
Price is Dr. Anton Phibes, a crazed maniacal doctor who survived a brutal accident that left him deformed and unable to speak naturally, but also killed his wife. He holds the surgical team that failed to save her responsible, so he plots an elaborate revenge plot to kill them all according to the ten plagues of the Old Testament. Cool concept from the start, but poorly executed, apart from the "death by locusts" scene which was just plain disturbing. The other characters all bleed together, and I found myself counting down the plagues just so I would know when we were nearing the end. Even Price is somewhat restrained here, which is never good. He's at his best when he's firing on all cylinders.
Dr. Phibes is a forgettable, dull entry in Vincent Price's immense horror catalog, and I don't really understand the horror community's fascination and adoration with this film. I wasn't drawn in. Hell, I was barely interested half the time thanks to an exposition-heavy script that drags its characters along without giving the audience any time to get invested in the journey. Definitely a miss for me.