Euro-Horror Project: The Abominable Dr. Phibes

(Robert Fuest, 1971) Robert Fuest’s talent for art direction helps to make this the best of the Phibes movies. He’s crafted a series of dreamlike tableaux and suffused them with sumptuous colour, art deco tucks and corners, and the generally peculiar. The story: a grieving theologian/organist (Vincent Price) exacts revenge on the medical team that let his wife die on the operating table. He designs executions around the mythic ten plagues of the Pharaoh and secures the collaboration of one Vulnavia (Virginia North), the Audrey Hepburn of psychedelic assassination. Joseph Cotton rounds out a skilled API cast of players as the corny inspector. There’s no need to argue that this one’s a deliberately campy project — what with Price in the lead role — but it’s camp with an engaging, unique difference that’s hard to define. Some unforgettable images: death by frog-mask at a masquerade ball, and Phibes’ surreal operating theatre. — Ranylt Richildis

What’s the Euro-Horror Project?

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