Articles from the Boston Compass, Film, Psychotronic Movies in our Zone

PMIOZ January: The Abominable Dr. Phibes


Screening @ the Brattle Theater on 1/31 @ 11:30pm

Is there a better actor so closely associated with horror films than Vincent Price? I think not. This true Renaissance man’s acting powers extended far beyond the genre (his heel turn in Laura being the prime example), but after the early 1950s he rarely exercised them elsewhere on screen. His decision is lauded by a psychotronic legion.

Price’s work in the horror genre runs so deep that his filmography can be broken into three distinct periods spread across five decades: his films through the 1950s (The Fly, The Tingler, etc.); ’60s films (House of Usher, The Raven, Witchfinder General, etc.); and his ’70s and later output, continuing until Price’s death in 1993 at age 82. This latter period witnessed a declining robustness of our hero’s roles, though his greatness is such that even in minor roles he never failed to leave his mark: his narration of Thriller, his kindly mad scientist in Edward Scissorhands, and even his bit part in Dead Heat.

The early 1970s offered Price his last batch of choice parts, the best being his turn as Dr. Phibes in two films. The original Phibes film, The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971), easily bests its sequel and features Price’s last great starring role. Phibes, an erudite Phantom of the Opera–esque madman who, with the help of his silent female assistant Vulnavia, is bent on avenging the death of his wife. How? By killing the team of doctors who were charged with her care, of course! The great Joseph Cotten appears as one of the physicians hunted by the really weird, theatrical Phibes in this very colorful cult classic that literally screams: Vincent Price!

The Abominable Dr. Phibes
dir. Robert Fuest
94 min

Screening @ the Brattle Theater on 1/31 @ 11:30pm

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