Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972)


Some feel that this sequel to 1970’s The Abominable Dr. Phibes surpassed the original film with its all-out camp elan, wild-and-woolly murder sequences (it’s hard to imagine anything more skin-crawlingly gruesome than the Scorpion Throne sequence in this film), exquisite Deco Egyptienne sets and scenery-chewing performances by such stellar talents as Hugh Griffith, Terry-Thomas (a priceless cameo), Beryl Reid and Peter Jeffrey. Robert Quarry has probably his best role ever as the perfidious Biederbeck, and Valli Kemp makes a fetchingly arch replacement in the role of Vulnavia originated by Virginia North (Kemp’s Vulnavia is more in the vein of Maxfield Parrish, while North was arctically Deco). But it’s Vincent Price–“how ironic and how clever!”–who rules this bizarre, darkly comic universe of murders and ancient Egyptian occult wisdom. The score by John Gale is also worthy of considerable praise–one of the great horror scores of the latter 20th Century. When is the CD coming out?

I’ve seen this movie about 7 times, and every time I always notice some little quip or detail that escaped me on first viewing. For trivia buffs, a third film was planned, which was due to bring Phibes face to face with Hitler. Vincent Price was so incensed at the chopping of the original running time of Rises Again that he refused to have anything to do with the third project, so it was abandoned. Director Robert Fuest worked on the Linda Thorson season of the Avengers (the Takeover episode shows some of the Phibes style), and went on to produce a stylish send-up of one of Michael Moorcock’s future-sex fantasias.