Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972)
Directed by: Robert Fuest
Written by: James Whiton, Robert Blees, Robert Fuest, William Goldstein
Starring: Fiona Lewis, High Griffith, John Cater, Peter Jeffrey, Robert Quarry, Terry-Thomas, Valli Kemp, Vincent Price
DR. PHIBES RISES AGAIN (1972)
Directed by Robert Fuest
The Complete Dr. Phibes Blu-Ray is available on Amazon
Vincent Price reprises his role as Dr. Anton Phibes, who rises again from his suspended animation three years after the events of The Abominable Dr. Phibes. In this adventure, Phibes seeks to take his beloved, deceased wife Victoria to Egypt in a bid to resurrect her using the Pharoah’s River of Life. Unfortunately for Phibes, a man named Darrus Biederbeck also seeks the prized river and does all that he can to reach it first.
The sequel to The Abominable Dr. Phibes, Dr. Phibes Rises Again continues the mysterious quest of Dr. Phibes, who’s only wish is to be at one with his true love, Victoria, once again, and who’ll kill anyone who gets in his way. Police Inspector Trout and Superintendent Waverley from the first Phibes return, providing the bulk of the light-hearted comedy moments. Vulnavia also reappears in the movie even though she was severely injured by acid, if not fatally injured, in the first movie. A new actress stars as Phibes’ sidekick in the form of Valli Kemp, who still portrays the fashionable mysterious woman who aids Anton in his murders, but she doesn’t come across as mesmorising nor does she move as floaty as previous actress Virginia North did. Curiously but joyfully making a re-appearance in the sequel is actor Terry-Thomas, who’s character Dr. Longstreak died in the first film. Terry-Thomas again plays a bit part, except this time as the head of the cruise company on which Phibes, Vulnavia, Biederbeck and his crew are travelling to Egypt on. Many movies around that era had a fondness for reusing actors from the first film, even if their character died, bringing them back as other characters. Another example of this is Hugh Griffith, who plays the Rabbi in The Abominable Dr. Phibes, but in the sequel he has a more distinctive, larger role as archaeologist Harry Ambrose.
In a lot of ways, Dr. Phibes Rises Again continues the path of its predecessor though it never quite reaches the high notes that The Abominable Dr. Phibes did. Rather than a relaxed story, where every death scene is savoured, Dr. Phibes Rises Again feels as though the deaths have become bigger than the story and that the plot only moves along to serve another glorious set piece murder. Despite this, Dr. Phibes Rises Again is still a quality film, that is enjoyable to watch for anyone who’s a fan of horror laced with black humour.
Other than the inventive deaths, again containing a few that no doubt inspired the likes of SAW, it’s the stellar horror icon Vincent Price who steals the show as organist Dr. Anton Phibes. His unwavering love for his late wife Victoria means he will stop at nothing until he can have her in his arms again, even if that means killing in her name. Vincent brings a camp aspect to Phibes, making him a sympathetic character rather than an evil one, in the first film. In this sequel, he still retains the viewer’s sympathy to a degree, but his killing of those not directly involved in the plot nor standing in the way of his quest, leaves Phibes with a darker edge.
Arrow Video have released a restored HD version of the movie onto Blu-Ray as part of the limited edition, THE COMPLETE DR. PHIBES, of which only 3000 copies exist. The transfer is glorious, picking up all the stunning details of the varied sets and locations, complete with clear quality audio. The Dr. Phibes Rises Again disc comes complete with optional audio commentary with Tim Lucas, as well as special features that include a 8 minutes featurette with film historian David Del Valle entitled ‘The Doctor Will See You Now’ and a theatrical trailer. There’s also an interview with Victoria Price, Vincent Price’s daughter, who talks about her father and his roles in ‘Daughter of Phibes’. Some of the interview footage is unique to this release, whilst part of it can be seen on the previous Arrow Video Price release, The Pit and the Pendulum, if memory serves me correctly.
As with most Arrow Video releases, The Complete Dr. Phibes Blu-Ray boxset comes complete with a 100-page collectors edition booklet, detailing the creation of both of the films as well as some stunning photos from the movies depicting Vincent Price as Dr. Anton Phibes, his sidekick Vulnavia and Phibes’ wicked death mechanisms.
The Dr. Phibes films are a must-have in any horror fans collection, and Dr. Phibes Rises Again is one such title that should sit proudly alongside its predecessor, even if it is the weaker movie of the two.