A Bunch of Phibes

With the exertions of PLASTIC over and done with until I can get into an editing suite, it’s nice to be able to absorb myself in some interesting cinema once again. I’ve had the DR. PHIBES films, directed by Robert Fuest, knocking about my collection for a while so thought it was high time they got a viewing.

Starring the amazing Vincent Price as the super villainous but super inventive Dr Phibes, the films chart both his mission to avenge the death of his wife at the hands of, in the opinion of Phibes, bungling surgeons and his attempts to resurrect the woman by transporting her corpse to the valley of the kings in Egypt in order to sail down the river of eternal life.

These films are fantastic!

In normal Price fashion, and you’ll know what I’m talking about here if you’ve see THEATRE OF BLOOD, his mission can only be accomplished by killing a whole bunch of people. Now, this isn’t done using the boring as hell Freddie Krueger or Michael Myers method, no way! That wouldn’t nearly as much fun as inventing a multitude of different ways to dispose of the people who have either wronged him, or are in some way obstructing his success.

THE ABOMNIBLE DR. PHIBES (1971) is the first in the duo and it is in this picture that we learn of Phibes obsessive, but rather touching, love for his wife, who’s death is the sole motive for all his horrific wrong doing.

Of course, there is a huge element of style on show here. For instance, Phibes doesn’t live in a run down cottage in the country, that just wouldn’t do. He resides in a palatial house in upmarket London. Not bad for a guy who’s supposed to be dead…… all is explained in the clip.

He also, bizarrely, has a clockwork band to entertain him and his beautiful (and painfully quiet) assistant, Vulnavia……

Frank Sidebottom anyone?

Vulnavia: The quiet, loyal type

The clip, in true ham horror fashion, explains the entire premise of the film. Check out our old friend Joseph Cotton as the head surgeon who finds himself at the top of Phibes’s list. Also take note of the way Phibes communicates…. Pure genius.

The closing chapter of this terrible tale is commonly known as:

In this picture, as I mentioned earlier, Phibes travels to Egypt to plan the resurrection of his dead wife and along the way, kills a lot of people in an array of elaborate methods. This picture is funnier than the last, the body count is slightly less but it’s a joy to eagerly anticipate the outrageously unlikely causes of death. One character gets trapped in a giant gold scorpion, then is stung to death by loads of real scorpions. Another guy has his face blasted off by a sandstorm….. that originates from the cigarette lighter of his jeep…… it’s great stuff.

I highly recommend looking at both films together as a double bill. Shown below is an example of Phibes incredible ingenuity….. Where does someone find a wind machine in the middle of the Egyptian desert?


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