The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971) has one of the strangest openings I’ve ever seen. Now I admit, there are movies today that I’ve reviewed that I hate because incoherent things that happen, and maybe I should give them a break because like this movie, it makes no sense or maybe I’m expecting more of movies today and give them less credit when they do something similar, but with the B-movie it is expected.

The masks are exquisite and creepy. Phibes can’t speak except through a contraption, he’s a genius creating clockwork people. The band is chilling to watch move; I know they are human underneath the costumes, but their movements are perfectly stiff and precise. The movie has a strange James Bond feel for me at times. After each kill Phibes takes a blow torch to the wax busts he has on display. The main set where Phibes plays the organ and the band sits, is like a nightclub with Vulnavia dancing in ornate costumes. She plays the violin while she waits for Phibes to take care of his business.

This movie is a chilling piece that everyone should see. I give it 4 out of 5 Stars.

I was two when Dr. Phibes Rises Again was released in 1972. I remember seeing it on TV when I was maybe eight or nine. I remember the awe I felt seeing Phibes come back to life; I was also hooked on Electra Woman and Dyna Girl, so not sure that says much about my tastes.

As with many sequels, I normally don’t think they are as good as the first, though it’s almost like comparing apples and oranges with these two. While The Abominable Dr. Phibes was about avenging the death of his wife, Dr. Phibes Rises Again is the quest of finding the River of Life to revive his wife. This chapter has just as many fun killings, which are strange and demented. I love the fact that he built a theatre like one in the first underground in the hills of Egypt.

I wish American International Pictures was still around to make gems like these. This one also gets 4 out of 5 Stars.

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