Friday, July 23, 2010

Dr. Phibes (Abominable)

There was a rather strange movie made in 1971 with Vincent Price called The Abominable Dr. Phibes.  It was a murder mystery/horror film that can only be described as "campy" if you don't mind that word.  Many of the reviewers on IMDb used it.

Dr. Phibes' wife was in an auto accident and a team of doctors couldn't save her.  Dr. Phibes seeks revenge by inflicting the ten plagues of Egypt on them, one by one.  The film, from American International Pictures, was made in England so most of the smaller parts are played by Brits.  They also injected some British humour into the film, something that I always like.  It comes across as being similar to "The Avengers" on TV, and in fact, some of the cast appeared in that show. 

Phibes cannot speak, so when he needs to talk, he plugs a cord in his neck and the sound comes out an old acoustic phonograph horn.  He plays a pipe organ in his home and directs a mechanical orchestra for entertainment.  They are actually quite good, with the voice of Paul Frees as the singer.

Joseph Cotton co-stars, and one of the doctors is played by Terry Thomas.  The rest are mainly Brits who spent a lot of time on TV as well as movies.  I scanned quickly down the list and saw actors with between 65 and 160 roles to their credit.

John Laurie (1887 - 1980) worked with Alfred Hitchcock in The Shame of Mary Boyle in 1930 and in 1935's The 39 Steps among his 143 roles.  Peter Jeffrey (1929 - 1999) has 154 roles in his list, including multiple episodes of "The Avengers" and also "The New Avengers" which was a terrible attempt to recreate something that could not exist without Diana Rigg.

Others include Maurice Kaufmann (1927 - 1997) who had 104 roles.  Barbara Keogh (1929 - 2005) who had 115 roles.  Hugh Griffith (1912 - 1980) with 91 roles.  Again, many of the roles by all of these bit players were on British TV.  Several went on to make the sequel with Price, Dr. Phibes Rises Again in 1972.

Start your horror film list now.  Halloween is not far away.

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