DR. PHIBES RISES AGAIN(director/writer: Robert Fuest; screenwriter: Robert Blees; cinematographer: Alex Thomson; editor: Tristam Cones; music: John Gale; cast: Vincent Price (Dr. Anton Phibes), Robert Quarry (Darius Biederbeck), Peter Jeffrey (Inspector Trout), Fiona Lewis (Diana Trobridge, Darius’ Girl), Hugh Griffith (Harry Ambrose), John Cater (Sir Wayne Waverley), Gerald Sim (Hackett), Peter Cushing (Captain), Milton Reid (Manservant), Terry-Thomas (Lombardo), Valli Kemp (Vulnavia), John Thaw (Shavers), Beryl Reid (Miss Ambrose, Harry’s Cousin), Keith Buckley (Stewart), Lewis Fiander (Baker); Runtime: 88; MPAA Rating: PG; producers: Samuel Z. Arkoff/Louis M. Heyward; MGM; 1972-UK)
“The bizarre murders devised are more repelling than scary or smartly done.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Unsuccessful sequel to the acclaimed 1971 The Abominable Dr. Phibes. It picks up where the original left off with disfigured (wears a rubber mask) and voiceless (talks through a speaker phone) Dr. Anton Phibes (Vincent Price), a genius organist and biblical scholar, killing anyone who gets in his way of finding the ancient Egyptian elixir that will bring back to life his gorgeous young wife Victoria who died on the operating table (getting revenge on all those he thought contributed to her death in the first film). Though directed again by Robert Fuest (“The Devil’s Rain”) and with Price revisiting the same role, it just didn’t work this time around despite retaining the camp horror and the splendid eye-catching art deco sets. The action becomes too heavy-handed, the humor never materializes, the cameos seem pointless, the bizarre murders devised are more repelling than scary or smartly done and the tale flattens out without much wit or traction as the murders are just on whims and not like the original motivated by the Seven Deadly Plagues to get only those the madman thought harmed his wife.
Though believed to have died three years ago, Dr. Phibes arises from a state of suspended animation with his beautiful silent aide Vulnavia (Valli Kemp, former Miss Australia) at his call to help in his cruel death plans. Phibes is resurrected from his crypt at just the right conjunction of the moon and plans to travel to the Temple of Ibiscus in Egypt. We are told the River of Life only flows every two thousand years and is soon to flow again, and therefore Phibes hopes to resurrect his wife. But Phibes discovers his rival archeologist Darius Biederbeck (Robert Quarry, played Count Yorga, Vampire-1970) has stolen the invaluable papyrus map that details how to find that underground River of Life. The evil Egyptologist Darius is a few hundred years old and without the elixir will soon perish.
Phibes’ first murder on his return to the land of the living in London is the gruesome murder via a mechanical snake passing through the ears of a manservant (Milton Reid) guarding the map in Darius’s home, as his assistant takes back the map he once possessed. But this theft and death doesn’t stop the cold-hearted Darius from taking a cruise liner to Egypt to excavate that temple in the desert of Egypt. On the boat, Darius’s best friend archeologist Harry Ambrose (Hugh Griffith) is placed in a seven foot gin bottle and dumped overboard by Dr. Phibes. His death means little to the obsessed Darius, who orders the captain (Peter Cushing) to move on without further delay. In Egypt (filmed in Spain) a series of other archeologist murders on the Darius led expedition takes place, such as Stewart (Keith Buckley) murdered by scorpions and Baker (Lewis Fiander) crushed to death in his bed by a vice. Incompetent London police head Sir Wayne Waverley (John Cater) and Inspector Trout (Peter Jeffrey) show up at the Egyptian expedition, but are not able to stop the murders. It concludes with Phibes threatening a torturous death for Darius’s main squeeze Diana (Fiona Lewis) unless Darius gives him the elixir key. It all ends with a wonderful art deco piece and Price crooning “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”
Failure at the box office prevented another sequel, with a treatment completed showing Nazis were involved in the plotline.
REVIEWED ON 2/27/2006 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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