Day 18 – The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971)

I have a Vincent Price collection that I want to make my way through this year, so I started with a popular one. As a matter of fact, I watched two Vincent Price movies today, but this is the one I chose to write about.

The Abominable Dr. Phibes follows one man’s killing spree as he seeks revenge on the doctors who could not save his wife after a lethal car accident. He decides to take them out one by one according to the ten plagues of Egypt, making it a fun guessing game about how the next victim is going to die. Vincent Price stars as Dr. Phibes, whose face has been totally destroyed in the accident, forcing him to wear a prosthetic Vincent Price face. He can’t speak either, unless he hooks up a device to his throat, so we never see Vincent Price move his mouth in the entire movie. His acting is done solely by expression, which is proof of his greatness. The film has a dry sense of humor along the way and never takes itself too seriously. The plague of death of livestock is portrayed by a brass unicorn being catapulted into one of its victims, and the inspectors remark on its questionable ties to the plague.

This movie was fun to watch, although I wished I had seen it before I saw Theatre of Blood, which has a lot of the same actors and a very similar plot. The main difference in that movie is Vincent Price’s character seeks revenge on critics of his acting by killing them according to Shakespearean deaths. The latter is much more absurd, and therefore funnier.

Dr. Phibes is definitely not the worst Vincent Price movie I’ve seen, and I’m sure I’ll watch it again sometime in the future.

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