Tuesday, February 15, 2011

"The Abominable Dr. Phibes"(1971)d/Robert Fuest

As Vincent Price is one of the greatest character actors of all-time, so then is this perhaps the single most persuasive testimony to his brilliance upon the silver screen, and undoubtedly the acmatic cult classic of our time.His unrivalled presence and flair,stolen too early from this world in 1993,are never more apparent than in this Fuest vehicle,irreplaceable by any, savoured by all.He delighted in the inexhaustible array of acting gifts he was blessed with, and never shrank from the task of drawing raw emotion from an audience with them.As a tribute to this immortal legend of the cinema, and specifically, his performance in this paradigm of genre art, I thought we'd depart from the ordinary review just once, and dream up something special, that were he present to read himself, just might bring that familiarly sardonic grin to his face one more time.Forward...
"Nine killed her; nine shall die! Eight have died, soon to be nine. Nine eternities in doom!"
We embark on a fable about a man, Anton Phibes(Vincent Price)
whose Victoria(Caroline Munro)perishes on an operating table
whose vehicle wrecks as he recklessly drives
silently assisted by Vulnavia(Virginia North), who's decked out in sable
A concert organist and doctor of music and theology
Gruesomely disfigured, he rebuilds his face
from the responsible doctors he'll accept no apology
with Inspector Trout(Peter Jeffery)of the Yard assigned to the case
Inspired to blood vengeance by the plagues of the Pharoah
He plots the horrific demise of all parties involved
Dunwoody's bat-shredded body chills constables' bones to the marrow
with no clues to build on, the murder's unsolved
Hargreaves is strangled by a masquerade frog
and Longstreet is siphoned of every drop of his life
While no suspects get penned into the inspector's crime log
Phibes continues to avenge the premature loss of his wife
"There are a lot of strange men practicing medicine these days."
On a countryside road,Hedgepath freezes to death
while rats in the cockpit signal Kitaj's demise
A catapulted brass unicorn steals Whitcombs last breath
as Trout starts to flesh out where the real blame lies
He teams with Vesalius(Joseph Cotten)to predict the upcoming curse
Nurse Allen's face is devoured by locusts right under their noses
For Victoria's head surgeon,Trout fears the worst
when his first born is abducted, it's clear what his biblical dose is
He has just six minutes to free his son from a shackled gurney
before acid drops from above upon his young face
while Phibes makes preparations for his final journey
to disappear from this world with nary a trace
As Vulnavia destroys, the inspector arrives
embalming fluid replaces blood from jars on the shelf
The surgeon rescues his boy, but there's no sign of Phibes
It seems he saved the last plague of dark for himself.
"The curse of hail in the bloody middle of nowhere."
For any horror aficionado or fan of cult cinema this should be regular viewing, without an iota of resistance.Price, who had memorized everyone's lines in the script, and whose post-dubbed delivery drew legendary balks of disapproval from co-star Joseph Cotton, serves up a tour de force of under and overstated campiness and black humor.The supporting cast which includes Cotten(in a role Peter Cushing was forced to decline due to health issues),an uncredited Caroline Munro,Virginia North,the ever smarmy Terry-Thomas,and Hugh Griffith,are all solid in this witty and original revenge-aganza opus.The soundtrack by Basil Kirchin is appropriately incredible.The black humor,inventive deaths,and witty dialogue are second to none.An enjoyable sequel surfaced a year later.Both films are available as a double disc,essential to every self-respecting woprophile's collection.Bravo, dear Vincent.Four big ones to an all-time favorite.Highly recommended.
"...when the acid reaches him, he will have a face like mine!"


CowboyX said...

"Vulnavia" sounds sexy to me

beedubelhue said...

I'd let Vulnavia take a fire axe to my clockwork wizards.


TimTE01 said...

I always get worried when I see reviews of the film. Why? Because it's my favorite movie of all-time.

I love the black humo(u)r. I love the mix of death and British sarcasm. I love the Clockwork Band. I love that he kills a guy with 'a brass unicorn' that 'has been catapulted across a London street and impaled on an imminent surgeon.'

It's almost a shame to consider that this film would have given us the first real pairing of Cushing and Price too. C'est la vie.

beedubelhue said...


Hopefully any worries you may have experienced upon seeing the post title were laid to rest after the review?Also one of my most favorites,I,too,worried about reviewing the film; that I might not do it proper justice or steer people away from it instead of towards,which would be my sole intent...thanks for the feedback.


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