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Scott Ventura >> Movie Commentary >> August 2001 >> The Abominable Dr. Phibes

The Abominable Dr. Phibes

Movie Commentary by Scott Ventura


Scott's Rating:
3 / 5
Times Seen:
Viewing Date:
August 2001
IMDB Name:
Abominable Dr. Phibes, The (1971)
Robert Fuest
MPAA Rating:
PG-13 for some horror violence/gore.

Price's Price

The Abonimable Dr. Phibes is a reasonably amusing entry in the silly subgenre of horror. I think my favorite aspect of the movie is the gleeful embracing of absurdity in both the plotting and the set design. I know it's common practice for old movie theaters and performance halls to be outfitted with a hydraulic-lift organ console, but I get a real kick out of building one into a house to use solely as a mad scientist elevator. Other glorious excesses included the life-size, clockwork band and the roasted busts of the deceased. It was a little disappointing to have some of them be offscreen, but the deaths by Biblical plagues were almost funny.

All throughout, I wondered why Vincent Price would've consented to playing the title role. It seems criminal to me to cast a man with a magnificently distinctive voice in a role where we never really see him speaking. Yes, Dr. Phibes was mangled in a car accident, but the whole concept of the neck-mount ampliphiers struck me as an unnecessary complication to an already overly-complicated character. Maybe Price relished the concept of keeping his lips closed while appearing to use the rest of his vocal apparatus, but that strikes me as small consolation. In spite of this complaint, Price's performance is pretty good inasmuch as someone with his features and voice really needs to act.

Copyright 2001 by Scott Ventura. All rights reserved.