DVD
Dr. Phibes Rises Again!

Starring: Vincent Price, Robert Quarry, Peter Cushing and Caroline Munro
MGM
RRP: 12.99
24271DVD
Certificate: 15
Available now


Three years on from the events which took place in
The Abominable Dr. Phibes, a conjunction of the moon with the stars pumps blood back into the veins of Phibes. Once revived, he makes plans to take his dead wife, Victoria, to a place in Egypt which holds the secret to resurrection for her, as well as eternal life for them both. The papyrus which shows the route has been stolen by Biederbeck, a man who desperately seeks eternal life for himself. The bizarre deaths of those who stumble across the fanatical path of Phibes brings Inspector Trout of Scotland Yard into the scenario. But it is knowledge of a theatrical organ and life-size clockwork orchestra shipped to Egypt which makes him suspect Phibes. Trout catches up with Biederbeck, and the latter discovers the caves which lead to the tomb where Phibes has set up his headquarters above the River of Life. Awaiting the correct astrological conjunction, all that Phibes can do is pick off those who come too close. When Biederbeck steals a sarcophagus containing his beloved wife, Phibes steals it back. However, the key which opens the gates to the waters below is missing, so he kidnaps Biederbeck's wife to get it back. What follows is a battle of wits only one man is destined to win...

Here we go with another bunch of Phibes, and at first appearance it seems we're going to be subjected to much of the same as this film's predecessor. However, the structuring makes the format quite different. Whereas The Abominable Dr. Phibes is a tale of revenge based on an Egyptian curse, the sequel shows the so-called fiend in a powerfully sympathetic light. He seeks only to revive his beloved dead wife in the River of Life which flows beneath the mountain. It is only when people seek to thwart his plans or try to steal from him that he kills with devilishly inventive schemes. He even comments to himself about being forced to kill again. Further to being original, these schemes are also very amusing... at least to a thirty-year retrospective audience. There's the mechanical snakes misleading the victim into being bitten by a real one; the phone receiver with a snake-spike which enters through one ear and emerges from the other; and the man who is drowned in a seven feet tall display bottle of whiskey, which washes up in England. There is a particularly funny moment when a character is attacked by locusts through the dashboard of his jeep and the vehicle drives into camp with only a skeleton at the wheel.

Aside from Vincent Price as Phibes, Peter Jeffrey returns as Trout from the first film, as does John Gater as Waverley. This is where it gets interesting, as there are bit parts from such illuminaries as Peter Cushing, Beryl Reid and John Thaw, who is quickly dispatched by Phibes' trained hawk. Terry-Thomas, who was one of the doctor's victims in the first film, plays a different character here (well, he would, wouldn't he!).

Although this film's predecessor contained a more convincing motive, Dr. Phibes Rises Again is in many ways a better film. There are more locations, less time-wasting dancing and watching the clockwork orchestra, and more deft touches which make this outing more endearing. For example, at one point we see Phibes transporting Victoria within a Rolls Royce casket (not a car, just the transparent coffin) complete with identifying grill and Wings of Destiny angel.

As long as you're aware that this is intentional tongue-in-cheek theatrical hokum, you'll appreciate what's on offer. Find this in the bargain bucket and enjoy.

Ty Power

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