Dr. Anton Phibes is seeking revenge on the team of doctors he believes killed his wife. Dr. Phibes is insane. But oh so clever. Assisted by Vulnavia, a beautiful mute, he dispatches his enemies in unusual ways. Using as his reference the 10 plagues of Egypt he has contrived special horrors for each person on his list. The first enemy is stung by bees. The second is shredded by bats. The third has his head squished with a frog mask at a costume party. The fourth is drained of blood. The next plague is the fifth and the curse of hail. That victim was found in the back seat of his car frozen to death. After that it’s rats. Then shot with a catapulted unicorn head. The eighth was the nurse who assisted in the operation. She was killed by giant locusts. The ninth is saved for the head surgeon on the case. Phibes has something special waiting for Dr. Vesalius.
Scotland Yard is baffled until they determine that all the deaths are connected to Victoria Phibes. All the doctors assisted Dr. Vesalius in an unsuccessful operation that resulted in her death. The police immediately suspect her husband. There’s one problem with their theory. Dr. Phibes died in a car crash shortly after his wife’s death. They were both interred together.
“The Abominable Dr. Phibes” was released in 1971 and was directed by Robert Fuest.
The movie is set in 1925, however, several of the songs played by The Clockwork Wizards were not written until the 40’s. The part of Victoria Phibes is played by a picture of Caroline Munro.
The best thing about Vincent Price is that he can make serious acting look camp, and camp acting look serious. And he can do it without any facial expression. He is at his best in “The Abominable Dr. Phibes”. This dark comedy keeps you watching just to see what the next death scene will bring. The intricate deaths are a plot angle that has been done many times, but with Phibes it has a rich flair that only a stage actor like Price can pull off. No wonder he has two stars on Hollywood’s walk of fame.
The "Vampire Bats" were really flying foxes, very docile fruit-loving bats.
Writer William Goldstein has said that Vulnavia was originally meant to be another clockwork device, complete with a wind-up key in her neck. Believing that Phibes needed a more mobile assistant, director Robert Fuest made her human, but retained the blank facial expression and mechanical movements.