The mighty Vincent Price brings his usual precision to the role of Doctor Phibes, the organ playing villain with no voice box (he speaks through a modified gramophone). This means that for most of the movies Price is sadly devoid of his greatest asset – his velvet voice. The limited speaking in the role could mean that he had the opportunity to sleepwalk through the role, but Price gives it his all. However, it’s a low-key performance, which is on the lighter side of the Vincent Price acting colour chart. The rest of the performances in the films range from high comedy (Peter Jeffrey and John Cater) to serious drama (Joseph Cotton).
Deliciously Camp, The Doctor Phibes movies have everything you need for a great Vincent Price experience. 1971’s The Abominable Doctor Phibes sees Price play a horrendously disfigured musical genius seeking revenge of the doctors who failed to save the life of his wife, while Doctor Phibes Rises Again (released the following year, although set three years after events in the first movie) ups the kitsch, as Phibes tries to reincarnate his wife.
Both Phibes films were directed by Robert Fuest and he directs with a gory glee. Phibes gets revenge on those who wronged him through a selection of outlandish murders. He’s not one for using a bullet or a knife, Phibes likes to use intricate ways to murder his victims, like slowly removing their blood or crushing their heads with a slowly shrinking mask. They’re far-fetched – but that’s what makes them so much fun.
This image shows Vincent Price as Doctor Phibes on set with director Robert Fuest.