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Scott Ventura >> Movie Commentary >> September 2001 >> Dr. Phibes Rises Again

Dr. Phibes Rises Again

Movie Commentary by Scott Ventura


Scott's Rating:
3 / 5
Times Seen:
Viewing Date:
September 2001
IMDB Name:
Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972)
Robert Fuest
MPAA Rating:


In The Abominable Dr. Phibes, Phibes is pretty clearly the villain. He holds medical personnel responsible for the death of his wife, a patient they almost certainly couldn't have saved. Vincent Price gave the title role the measure of creepiness required. In Dr. Phibes Rises Again, Phibes has gone from antagonist to protagonist. Sure, he's killing off Biederbeck's expedition, but Biederbeck is cast as the more evil of the two. This peculiar changeover gives the two movies significantly different feels, even though so much else remains similar. Phibes is once again choosing peculiar methods of eliminating his enemies, though without the central theme of the Biblical plagues. He is again tailed by British police, but they function even more as comic relief than as plot devices this time around.

The art deco interiors and absurd costuming were my favorite details of the first Phibes outing. Vulnavia's outfits, the clockwork band, and the ludicrous Phibes mansion were perfect accoutrements to the dance scenes. Although the Egyptian chamber has most of the charm found in the house, Vulnavia's costumes do not. This isn't even the same Vulnavia, as Virginia North was replaced by Valli Kemp. While any sufficiently attractive woman should be able to play the part, Kemp is hindered by the costume department, which didn't go nearly as far overboard. Most disappointingly, Vulnavia's idiosyncratic and all-concealing headgear is often missing, revealing all-too-normal hair underneath. Phibes Rises Again is moderately amusing, but just misses the level of the original.

Copyright 2001-2002 by Scott Ventura. All rights reserved.