Directed by Robert Fuest [Other horror films: And Soon the Darkness (1970), Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972), The Devil’s Rain (1975), Three Dangerous Ladies (1977, segment ‘The Island’)]
I’ve seen this one something like three or four times before, and I always left with a lukewarm feeling. Seeing it once again, I don’t find the movie bad, or even all that mediocre, but despite the cleverness and amusing pieces of dialogue throughout, this still isn’t a movie I love.
As it is, I really like most of the really random kills (perhaps the death-by-brass-unicorn is my favorite, but the bat kill was great, as were the locusts, snow-blower, and the exsanguination scenes), and the character of Dr. Phibes, played by Vincent Price, was really interesting and moderately tragic. Even so, the movie doesn’t work for me.
Vincent Price was a clear stand-out, but this movie isn’t really as driven by him as many of his other films are (such as House on Haunted Hill or Theater of Blood), possibly because he didn’t speak all that often. Others were pretty solid also, such as Joseph Cotton, Terry-Thomas (who I love in anything I see him in, from The Vault of Horror to my favorite comedy, It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World), and Peter Jeffrey.
The movie does possess a bit of a tragic feel, especially toward the somewhat somber conclusion (which also had a solid precursor to a Saw series trap, which was innovative), so that worked out well, but though I enjoyed much of the comedy (which was never too pervasive, luckily), I still find the movie hovering around average, which may change sometime in the future with another viewing.
This was covered on Fight Evil’s podcast, so if interested, listen as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss The Abominable Dr. Phibes.