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Rated PG-13
Copyright 1972 American International Pictures
Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 3 June 2001

The Characters:  

  • Dr. Phibes - Vincent Price! He might be full of stale blood, but the man still manages to think up imaginative and cruel ways to kill his enemies. Don't make him angry; you wouldn't like him when he's angry.
  • Vulnavia - I have decided that she must be a demon tasked with helping Phibes realize his ambitions.
  • Victoria - Still dead.
  • Inspector Trout - Previous experiences with the evil doctor have left him scared and unsure. Join the club buddy.
  • Waverley - Head investigator for Scotland Yard or something like that.
  • Biederbeck - Rich bastard and lucky owner of a small vial filled with water from the fountain of youth. Looks to be about thirty-five, but he is actually well over a hundred years old.
  • Ambrose - Biederbeck's business partner who should have hired a gardener to trim his eyebrows. Strangled and then stuffed into a very large gin bottle.
  • Diana - Betrothed to the rich bastard. Likes her tea with cream, sugar, but hold the dead bodies.
  • Biederbeck's Butler - Hoya! Hoya! Hooha! (You'll have to see the movie.)
  • The Victims - They could have improved their chances of surviving by enlisting in Starfleet and being assigned to the Enterprise under Kirk. Heck, even volunteering to be on a shore party wouldn't have hurt.

Buy It!

The Plot: 

In the previous movie, The Abominable Dr. Phibes, our homicidal protagonist inflicted the final plague upon himself. Trout and other members of Scotland Yard were searching the house as Phibes laid beside Victoria. There, next to the deceased wife who inspired his rampage, the good doctor started a system that replaced his blood with embalming fluid. The crypt then closed, sparing us the sight of him going into convulsions due to the toxic cocktail flowing into his veins. It was an elegant finish to a glorious movie.

By now you should be suspecting that Phibes does not stay dead (the title sort of gives it away) and, after three years of undisturbed rest, a conjunction causes the ghastly embalming process to be reversed. The blood removed from his system, that has been sitting at room temperature and must have settled out, flows back into his body. Amazingly Phibes sits back up and goes about himself as if waking from a long sleep. I'm telling you, the man is a freaking revenant or some other undead horror. People do not just lie dead for a few years and then wake up.

Ah, but Vincent Price is not the only one back from the dead. Several actors, who were casualties in the first film, return in new parts. I mean, it was fine seeing Inspector Trout again, because he survived the last movie and is playing the same character. But I watched that guy die from having all the blood pumped out of his body and when did Ambrose give up being a Rabbi?

The crafty doctor has been biding his time for a reason though: when the stars are right the River of Life flows beneath a buried temple in Egypt. With its magical waters he can resurrect Victoria! One problem arises. While the master was away the looters did play and Phibes' secret map is now in Biederbeck's hands. Not a worry for the man who recreated biblical plagues; he kills off the rich bastard's butler with a number of mechanical rattlesnake/pythons (one of them was real; no I don't know how) and a booby-trapped phone.

Most of the interested parties (Trout and his boss are absent) end up booking passage aboard the same ocean liner going to Egypt. That pretty much spells doom for Ambrose, especially when the idiot starts poking around Victoria's glass case. Between a butler shish-kabob and finding another fellow mysteriously inserted into a bottle, Trout becomes mighty suspicious that maybe this Phibes' business is not over with. He and his boss take the next ship heading to Egypt with much haste.

Meanwhile, in the land of the pharaohs, Phibes has renovated a section of the temple and spends his spare time stumbling over secret doors. Not a difficult task considering that they're hidden with all the ingenuity of a moron. Remember how searching for Easter eggs was never a difficult task? Parents leave them in plain view so that the kids find all of them; the other option is moving the couch a few months later and discovering something exceptionally disgusting.

Pretty soon the killer organist (that phrase brings back unhappy memories of Soul Vengeance) is hard at work thinning out Biederbeck's payroll. One luckless chap is drawn away from camp by Vulnavia and then trapped in a painful looking device shaped like a huge scorpion. Phibes locks the claws (the insides of which are covered with spikes) shut around Ensign Stewart's forearms and drops the key into a porcelain dog nearby. Suffering greatly, the victim is able to break the decorative pooch open only to find it was full of real scorpions! The idiot must have been wearing cologne with female scorpion hormones in it, because the nasty little buggers swarm over him and do what scorpions do to people in horror movies.

It means that they sting him. A lot. Next paragraph.

During all this killing and mayhem some soliloquies reveal that the protagonist might resent Victoria for making him such a bloodthirsty beast. Do not forget Vulnavia either, his silent partner in murder. There is this notion tickling at my brain that she might be intended to resemble Victoria in her youth. Add this subtle temptation, the blood letting, and her name, surely intended to remind us males of a woman's more base uses, to my argument about Vulnavia's origins.

Even the detectives from Scotland Yard do not worry Phibes. He continues killing people and frustrates his adversaries' every move. During one night, made windy by a giant fan (where did that come from?), he uses something vaguely resembling a huge apple press on a member of the expedition. It looks painful, excruciatingly so when you realize that he has thousands of nerve endings per inch. Ever seen what's left after making cider? Yeah, well apples don't feel pain. At least I hope not.

Biederbeck finds himself on the wrong side of checkmate after Diana is kidnapped and trapped in a chamber awaiting certain death. Only by surrendering a crucial key, needed to access the River of Life, can he save her. In doing so the rich bastard proves some noble blood runs through his veins, for the end is near at hand. As Vincent Price merrily sings "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" (I kid you not) and pushes a raft carrying Victoria through a flooded underground passage, the weight of ages crashes down on Biederbeck's shoulders.

This really lacks the ingenuity and charm of the first film (the bird of prey attack was plain silly), though the butler's fate was artfully done. Bringing back some of the characters just didn't sit well with me either, nor finding that Phibes actually intended to survive his ruthless vengeance.


Dr. Freex and myself are have a mini roundtable this weekened! Enjoy a double shot of Vincent Price on both sites and you will soon find yourself slavering for more. More. MORE!
The Bad Movie Report: The Abominable Dr. Phibes The Abominable Dr. Phibes
The Bad Movie Report: Dr. Phibes Rises Again Dr. Phibes Rises Again

Things I Learned From This Movie: 

  • Embalming fluid may cause drowsiness.
  • There are times when getting a fish bone stuck in your throat is unavoidable.
  • Humans are an eagle's normal prey.
  • Egyptians invented the railroad.
  • Be careful what you read before going to bed.
  • Tire separation is bad, but sandblasting the driver to death is certainly cause for a recall.
  • Chicken wire is good for keeping out small carnivores and unwanted suitors.

Stuff To Watch For: 

  • 4 mins - Lying dead for three years would probably put a crick in your neck.
  • 15 mins - Hey, that looks to be taped on...
  • 19 mins - And behind door number three: a dead wife!
  • 36 mins - Not, "Can we catch him?" but, "Maybe he will not come back." Hehehe!
  • 45 mins - The entrance is dripping water, but the passageway is bone dry.
  • 54 mins - Following Vulnavia is probably grounds for having your life insurance canceled.
  • 57 mins - Marquis De Sade of Arabia?
  • 80 mins - Doesn't that ladder look familiar? Almost like something you would see descending into a swimming pool...

 Audio clips in wav formatSOUNDSStarving actors speak out 

Green Music Note phibesrises1.wav Phibes: "Upstairs, in my safe, is a most precious map of papyrus. The way to a pharaoh's tomb! Beneath which flows, each two thousand years, the River of Life. We must make haste and find the river at its flood!"
Green Music Note phibesrises2.wav Biederbeck: "Just what then are you suggesting?"
Trout: "That it was a calculated act."
Biederbeck: "By a man who knows the true value of the papyrus?"
Trout: "Yes sir."
Green Music Note phibesrises3.wav Waverley: "Men fall overboard all the time. That's what the locals are for! That's what I complain about in this department!"
Trout: "This one was inside a bottle, sir."
Waverley: "Do what?"
Trout: "He was inside a bottle."
Green Music Note phibesrises4.wav Trout: "You know, I'm a bit apprehensive about finding the others sir. Do you think you know where we are sir?"
Waverley: "Trout, I don't think, I know."
Trout: "I don't think you know either sir."
Waverley: "Keep your place Trout!"
Green Music NoteTheme Song Listen to a clip from the soundtrack.

 Click for a larger imageIMAGESScenes from the movie 


 Watch a sceneVIDEOMPEG video files 

Video Clipphibesrises1.mpg - 3.1m
Biederbeck's servant crushed the first two snakes with little thought, but then realized they were only wind-up toys. Unfortunately the third one is real and the mechanism is taped on. Using the phone to call for help was a bad idea too. I tried to tell him, but with some people it just goes in one ear and out the other...

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