Dr. Phibes Rises Again

Synopsis: They Haven’t Built The Coffin That Can Hold Him!

That bizarre evil genius, the abominable Dr. Phibes, is back with all his old diabolical deviltry” (Variety). This sequel to The Abominable Dr. Phibes, again features Vincent Price “as one of his most perfect horror villains in his long list of evil-doers” (The Hollywood Reporter).

The eminent Dr. Phibes awakens from a decade of suspended animation and heads to Egypt with his mute aide-de-camp Vulnavia and the corpse of his dead wife. To resurrect his spouse, Phibes gets up to his usual, diabolical tricks: cleverly murdering people in strange and heinous ways to invoke a magical incantation. But once he is in the tomb of the dead Pharaohs, the good doctor discovers that his pursuit of an after-life may be foiled by his nemesis who wants to end the reign of this sadistic surgeon of gore.
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Dr. Phibes Rises Again 4.0

It appears that you can never keep a popular horror villain down: due to the success of ‘The Abominable Dr. Phibes’, the good Doctor was rapidly resurrected for another engagement. Unfortunately, it failed to reproduce the maniacal magic of the original. sad0038 Free Sad Emoticons

For starters, the budget was tighter, limiting the scope of the film. Mind you, with the exception of the James Bond movies, it seems like this was a common occurrence at the time: the Planet of the Apes series is a perfect example of this, with each subsequent film receiving less and less production money. It was thought at the time that sequels only brought diminishing returns.

Of course, this was always a self-fulfilled prophecy, and ‘Dr. Phibes Rises Again’ was pretty much hobbled by a crummy script that was cobbled together in haste and by an incredibly inconsistent set design: one moment you would get these huge set pieces meant to recreate Egyptian tombs and then the other you would have props that were a step above of papier maché. mad0071 Free Emoticons   Anger

‘Rises Again’ is so bloody horrible a movie it’s hard to put into words. The story makes no sense whatsoever, the kills are ridiculous in a bad way (i.e. they’re impossible; they couldn’t take place as shown), and it leaves one unsated. But, worst of all, it’s not even remotely funny. As this was the main redeeming value of the original, not being able to elicit laughs or even mild amusement is a major weak point. Without hoaky the fun, it’s just a bad movie. sad0133 Free Sad Emoticons

As well, there is no real story to speak of. Phibes goes to Egypt because, apparently, there is a River of Life there and he can awaken his dead spouse on/in/through it. Sadly, most of the whole film is about Phibes waiting for the right moment to access this so-called River of Life – so, in the meantime, the script tries to find ways to kill time along the way. sad0020 Free Sad Emoticons

*MAJOR spoiler alert*

What this means is that Phibes’ plans are constantly being thwarted: first he loses the papyrus, then he loses his wife, then he loses his key (whose function remained unexplained). How is this even possible? How inept is this supposed mad genius? And how are we suppose to enjoy the character if he’s such a clown? He’s not even out-witted, he’s just sloppy… mad0137 Free Emoticons   Anger And how is it that Phibes is always talking anyway? He is constantly plugged into an invisible mic, which is so weird. At one point we even get the impression that he’s plugged into a tuba. I mean, it’s a relief to not watch Price do that creepy throaty thing as much as he did in the first film, but sometimes I wished that he would just shut up and do something interesting instead of blathering on as he did. indifferent0004 Free Emoticons   Indifferent

After being brought back from the dead, Phibes brings Vulnavia back to help him again. But how can she return? And intact, even, despite being killed by acid in the last one? This makes no sense whatsoever. Inexplicably, she quite literally reappears out of thin air (which, I suppose, suggests a supernatural being of some sort). confused

Phibes then discovers that, while he was in stasis, his house was torn down. Now, why would anyone tear down Phibes’ house and leave the basement intact? Were they not aware of its existence (even though the cops went there in the first film)? How could he get out of the rubble anyway? It was as though a path was cleared for the elevator to come out, which is complete nonsense – because, then, that means someone knew about the basement. Urgh. rolleye0015 Free Emoticons   Rolling Eyes

Then he discovers that someone pillaged his safe and conveniently left it open in the rubble. Well, why would they leave an open safe lying about like this? How did they even open it without blasting the sucker open? And how in God’s name did Phibes track down the person who stole the papyrus from the safe anyway? He just suddenly pops up at Darrus Beiderbeck’s place as if he’s always known it would be there – even though Beiderbeck bought it from another, undisclosed, party… mad0071 Free Emoticons   Anger

Speaking of which, why does Beiderbeck also need the River of Life? He is shown drinking some beverage (the nectar of life?) to remain alive/young/have pleasant breath, but we never find out why he needs this nectar (or whatever). We don’t know why he’s running out of it either. So what’s his story? And why couldn’t he and Phibes simply share? Surely a whole river could give life to two people? confused

*MAJOR spoiler alert*

Without going into all the details, as tedious as they are, ‘Dr. Phibes Rises Again’ finds one simple-minded way after another to add new twists and give Phibes reasons to kill again (and in ways so lame that he’s no longer a mad genius – he’s just mad). You see, if they hadn’t done that, the audience would just be watching the man sitting there, waiting the three days out. So they strung the audience along, from one clutzy sequence to the next. It would be tedious if it was so damned pathetic. mad0071 Free Emoticons   Anger

I don’t even know why I’m giving the film a 4.0. The more I think about it, the more I think I should give it a 3.0. So let’s say that I suggest that the average viewer steer clear of this like it was the plague, and the extremely curious should consider this only with absolute caution: this is a film much more abominable than its predecessor. sad0133 Free Sad Emoticons

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