Saturday, October 01, 2011

The Abominable Dr. Phibes

(1971) ***1/2

I could describe this film in one word, weird. However, I’ll save the cheap review for one less interesting. Dr. Phibes is a sick bastard. He is a serial murderer with creative vision., a true artist. He lives in a world of classical music, beautiful women and dramatic scenes. Phibes apparently snapped a gasket after the death of his radiant wife. He spends his days trying to relive the time with her, while working his grief out through grisly murder, all to avenge his wife’s death. It’s not so easy to catch Phibes either, he seems to be able to hide in plain site.

If for no other reason, I have to give this film a big thumbs up for the unique and creative ways Phibes commits murder. One of my favorites involves a pilot flying a small one man plane. Phibes has filled the plane with hungry rats. The rats dig in to the pilot and his flying becomes erratic. As the plane spirals down to a crash, Phibes stand on the ground holding a flower while a gorgeous woman plays the violin. In this moment, we see just how much he is enjoying each and every death. Dr. Phibes is played by Vincent Price, one of my favorite horror actors. One of the creepiest things about the good doctor, he speaks without opening his mouth, he has an amplifier strapped to his throat, connected to a large victrola horn. I love Phibes, he’s such an interesting character. Then again, anyone who keeps an orchestra handy, in their home, to play on their command is alright in my book. Phibes knows, sometimes what life really needs is a little background music.


8 comments:

DCD said...

He's right there! Hiding behind that flower!!

This sounds like a winner, Cat. Great first choice!

Octopunk said...

I love this movie, great choice! Some of the most stylish killings ever. The murder you describe is one of my favorites.

Landshark said...

I love this:

"One of the creepiest things about the good doctor, he speaks without opening his mouth, he has an amplifier strapped to his throat, connected to a large victrola horn. I love Phibes, he’s such an interesting character. Then again, anyone who keeps an orchestra handy, in their home, to play on their command is alright in my book."

Everything about that is awesome.

Johnny Sweatpants said...

Nice review Catfreeek! I can't tell you how many people have looked at me incredulously and asked "you haven't seen Dr. Phibes???"

JPX said...

I have a copy of this film and every year I intend to check it out however I am deterred by the 1972 date. In my Horrorthon experience over the years I have developed a distaste for early 70s horror. While I'm making a gross generalization, there is something about the look and feel of early 70s cinema that is off-putting to me. Perhaps I watched too many Hammer films? I tend to find them glacially paced and largely unsatisfying. Still, your excellent review makes me tempted...

AC said...

sounds like a classic in its own weird way.

50PageMcGee said...

i'd be more discriminating in my affection for people who have their own on-demand orchestra.

Crystal Math said...

I have fond memories watching this movie as a kid. My dad and I would set up the VCR to record it and laugh at the camp and I would be mesmerized at a movie that delivered something that I'd never seen before, and very rarely since. I definitely believe that Phibes has a heart of gold and beneath his voice hole and fake hair are good intentions ;-)