Dr. Phibes Rises Again

Dr. Phibes Rises Again is currently on instant Netflix and Amazon Prime

Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972)

“The eminent Dr. Phibes (Vincent Price) awakens from several years of suspended animation and heads to Egypt with his mute assistant (Valli Kemp) and the corpse of his dead wife, determined to track down the stolen papyrus scrolls he needs to bring his spouse back to life. In this sequel to The Abominable Dr. Phibes, Phibes is up to his usual tricks, murdering people in strange and heinous ways; meanwhile, a team of inspectors is hot on his heels.”

The Abominable Dr. Phibes is an absolute classic and is probably Vincent Price’s best film, though not his best performance (Witchfinder General). Everything worked perfectly from Price’s Dr. Phibes sparring with Joseph Cotton’s Dr. Vesalius to the comic relief of Terry-Thomas to the assistance of Virginia North as Vulnavia to the wonderful traps.

Rarely is a sequel as good as the original. Dr. Phibes Rises Again is not an exception but is close enough to receive a firm recommendation. Dr. Phibes opens with a nice recap of the end of the first film, narrated by Gary Owens. Vincent Price as Phibes is fantastic as always, in spite of periodically being silent and encased in gruesome makeup.

Virginia North was pregnant so Valli Kemp was tapped to play the silent Vulnavia. Her initial appearance in a kaleidoscopic tunnel is wonderful. She was Miss Australia in 1970 and this was her first film. She is certainly attractive but is not as good a Vulnavia as Virginia North. Shortly after this Miss Kemp abandoned her film career for one in art and fashion.

AIP was desperately trying to groom Robert Quarry to be the next big horror star. They featured him in two Count Yorga films before this and Deathmaster, Sugar Hill, and Madhouse after this. While a decent actor, it never really worked out. He is good but not great as Phibes’ nemesis, Dr. Biederbeck.

While on board the ship there is a brief cameo from horror icon Peter Cushing as the Captain. Cushing was originally slated to play Dr. Vesalius in the first film but had to bow out. I think he would have made a fine Vesalius or even Biederbeck.

As in the first film, the deaths here are all hysterically over-the-top and campy. I hate to describe any of them as each is a delight but I’ll just mention that the first involves clockwork snakes. The odd mixture of art deco and what can best be described as steampunk (if Phibes had not actually predated the term) makes the Phibes movies a visual feast.

Although The Abominable Dr. Phibes is not available, Dr. Phibes Rises Again works as a standalone movie. There were many attempts to mount a third Dr. Phibes movie, which Vincent Price was interested in doing. Unfortunately none of them got off the ground.

People Watch: Caroline Munro is uncredited but she plays Victoria Phibes in both movies. She would go on to star in a slew of genre films: Dracula A.D. 1972, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, Captain Kronos, Vampire Hunter, At the Earth’s Core, Starcrash, and Maniac. She also played Naomi in The Spy who Loved Me.

Also look for John Thaw briefly as Shavers. He would go on to become famous as Inspector Morse from 1987-2000.