It’s hard to believe Vincent Price was really from St. Louis. Heck, who even knew he was from this PLANET? An actor of unequaled screen presence, he was the sinister sophisticate of scores of B-pictures during the ’50s and ’60s. But he began the ’70s with a duo of wry horror comedies called The Abominable Dr. Phibes and Dr. Phibes Rises Again! (1972, 89 minutes). Both were directed by Robert Fuest who later made the even weirder, Devil’s Rain, with Captain Kirk locking horns with a gaggle of satanists led by — gulp — Ernest Borgine!
The movie: Three years later, Dr. Phibes (Price) rises from his tomb, and with the help of Vulnavia, sets out to Egypt to enact his final bid for eternal life by the side of his beloved corpse, er, wife Victoria. He’s hindered by a fella named Biederbeck (Robert Quarry) who has similar, but less romantic plans. So doggoneit if Phibes doesn’t have to start whackin’ folks in that elaborate style of his. While in route to Egypt, he even stuffs this big, fat guy in a giant liquor bottle and tosses it overboard to float back to England. Inspector Trout (Peter Jeffrey) finds it and pursues the not-so-good doctor once again. There’s also more organ music and interpretative dance — probably too much. Most of the previous cast returns. Some in different roles. But, sadly, Virginia North was unable to reprise her role as Vulnavia, as she was much too pregnant to fit into those gowns. Even half-blind CineSchlockers will recognize Mr. Quarry as swingin’ Count Yorga, Vampire.
Notables: No breasts. Six corpses. Venom-sucking closeup. Death by scorpion swarm. Sand-blaster facial.
Quotables: Detective Trout fears the worst, "It’s Phibes all right, sir. And heALWAYS comes back! … Every time we’ve built a better mousetrap. Phibes has built a better mouse." Dr. Phibes talks tough, "You can not threaten the dead with death, my friend. Only with life eternal."
Time codes: Goon falls victim to snake bite AND the ol’ spike-through-the-head gag (15:30). Grand Moff Tarkin (Peter Cushing) as the ship’s captain (26:30). Dr. Phibes fixes his face (49:30). Price sings "Somewhere, over the rainbow … " (1:27:30).
Final thought: Two-notches higher on the camp dial, but when the show goes on the road, the ride gets bumpy.