Monday, October 04, 2004

Dr. Phibes Rises Again


(1972) ***1/2

"What kind of madman are you?" "The kind that wins!"

I first experienced Dr. Phibes when I caught this movie at random late one night in the lounge of my freshman dorm. Not quite as good as the original (there's a notably different actress playing Vulnavia, for one thing), it follows Dr. Phibes to Egypt, where he plans to use a once-every-2,000-years lunar convergence to access the River of Life, thereby reviving his dearly embalmed Victoria. Challenging him on his quest is Darius Biederbeck, a man of letters who must access the River of Life to maintain his fragile immortality.

Phibes himself refer to Beiderbeck as "the only foe worthy of Phibes" (which was echoed by the copy on the dvd case), but I didn't really see it. Mostly he just acted the cold bastard when he won't interrupt his quest to contend with the trail of corpses Phibes is leaving behind.

While the overall style of the sequel is outshined by the original -- and there are fewer murders to enjoy, the elaborate unfolding of some of the fancier deaths are definitely the highlights of the series. I'm thinking mostly of the dreaded Scorpion Chair, but I've already said too much. You get even more of Vincent Price gesturing and widening his eyes as his disembodied voice echoes about the room. Definitely good stuff.

Unfortunately, most of my valuable weekend time was taken up with an out-of-town guest and a party, so those are the only movies I completed. I'm glad I got my gloating in early.

1 comment:

Octopunk said...

It's hard to tell, but Phibes is standing in a boat with a coffin behind him. The reason it's hard to make out is that the coffin has a Rolls Royce grill on it. I'm telling you...style.