The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971)


I watched the 1971 British dark comedy horror film “The Abominable Dr. Phibes” on Svengoolie. The cult classic was produced by Ronald S. Dunas (The Hardy Boys: The Mystery of the Chinese Junk, Naked Fear) and Louis M. Heyward (The Dick Clark Show, Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs, House of 1,000 Dolls, The Crimson Cult, Cry of the Banshee, Murders in the Rue Morgue, Dr. Phibes Rises Again), directed by Robert Fuest (Dr. Phibes Rises Again, The Devil’s Rain), written by William Goldstein (Dr. Phibes Rises Again) and

James Whiton (Dr. Phibes Rises Again, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea). The story is about a doctor, scientist, organist, and biblical scholar Anton Phibes seeking revenge on the nine doctors he considers responsible for the death of his wife (“Nine Shall Die”).

Phibes is inspired in his murderous spree by the Ten Plagues of Egypt from the Old Testament.

  • bats
  • frogs
  • blood
  • rats
  • livestock
  • hail
  • boils
  • locusts
  • death of the firstborn
  • darkness.

The movie was shot on the 20s era sets at Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire, in southern England. The cemetery scenes were from Highgate Cemetery, London[1]. The exterior of Dr. Phibes’ mansion was Caldecote Towers at Immanuel College on Elstree Road in North London.

  • Vincent Price as Dr. Anton Phibes – (May 27, 1911 – October 25, 1993) Tower of London, The Invisible Man Returns, The House of the Seven Gables, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, The Three Musketeers, House of Wax, The Ten Commandments, The Fly, House on Haunted Hill, Return of the Fly, The Tingler, Pit and the Pendulum, Tales of Terror, Tower of London, Beach Party, The Raven, The Haunted Palace, The Comedy of Terrors, The Last Man on Earth, The Masque of the Red Death, The Tomb of Ligeia, War-Gods of the Deep, Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine, Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs, The Trouble with Girls, The Oblong Box, Scream and Scream Again, Welcome to My Nightmare, Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Edward Scissorhands, TV episodes of Egghead on Batman, F-Troop, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Get Smart, The Hilarious House of Frightenstein, The Brady Bunch, Columbo, The Bionic Woman, The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo
  • Joseph Cotten as Dr. Vesalius – (May 15, 1905 – February 6, 1994) Citizen Kane (1941), The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), and Journey into Fear (1943), From the Earth to the Moon, Tora! Tora! Tora!, The Abominable Dr. Phibes, Lady Frankenstein, Soylent Green, Airport ’77, TV episodes of It Takes a Thief, The Virginian, The Rockford Files, The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries, Fantasy Island, Tales of the Unexpected, The Love Boat
  • Peter Jeffrey as Inspector Harry Trout – (18 April 1929 – 25 December 1999) Countess Dracula, The Abominable Dr. Phibes, Dr. Phibes Rises Again, The Return of the Pink Panther, Midnight Express, Doctor Who The Androids of Tara, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, The Tale of Sweeney Todd
  • Virginia North as Vulnavia – (24 April 1946 – 5 June 2004) Some Girls Do, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, The Abominable Dr. Phibes
  • Hugh Griffith as Rabbi – (30 May 1912 – 14 May 1980) Ben-Hur, Mutiny on the Bounty, Tom Jones, How to Steal a Million, Oliver!, The Abominable Dr. Phibes, Dr. Phibes Rises Again, Legend of the Werewolf, The Hound of the Baskervilles
  • Terry-Thomas as Dr. Longstreet – (July 10, 1911 – January 8, 1990) It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines, Munster, Go Home!, Jules Verne’s Rocket to the Moon, The Abominable Dr. Phibes, Dr. Phibes Rises Again, The Vault of Horror, The Hound of the Baskervilles, TV episodes of What’s My Line?, The Terry-Thomas Show, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Red Skelton Hour, Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In
  • Derek Godfrey as Crow – (3 June 1924 – 18 June 1983) Julius Caesar, The Abominable Dr. Phibes, Hands of the Ripper
  • Norman Jones as Sgt. Tom Schenley – (16 June 1932 – 23 April 2013) You Only Live Twice, The Abominable Dr. Phibes
  • John Cater as Superintendent Waverley – (January 17, 1932 – March 21, 2009) The Abominable Dr. Phibes, Dr. Phibes Rises Again, Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter, TV episodes of Doctor Who, The Avengers
  • Aubrey Woods as Goldsmith – (April 9, 1928 – May 7, 2013) The Abominable Dr. Phibes, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, TV episodes of Doctor Who, Blake’s 7
  • John Laurie as Darrow –  March 25, 1897 – June 23, 1980) Treasure Island, Devil Girl from Mars, The Abominable Dr. Phibes, TV episodes of Tales of Mystery
  • Maurice Kaufmann as Dr. Whitcombe – (June 29, 1927 – September 21, 1997) The Quatermass Xperiment, Behemoth, the Sea Monster, A Shot in the Dark, The Abominable Dr. Phibes, Fright, The Vault of Horror, The Strange Case of the End of Civilization as We Know It
  • Sean Bury as Lem Vesalius – (born August 15, 1954) Friends (Elton John Soundtrack), The Abominable Dr. Phibes, The Spy Who Loved Me
  • Susan Travers as Nurse Allen – (born February 18, 1939) The Snake Woman, The Abominable Dr. Phibes, Frenzy, TV episodes of The Avengers, The Saint
  • David Hutcheson as Dr. Hedgepath – (June 14, 1905 – February 18, 1976) The Evil of Frankenstein, The Magic Christian, The Abominable Dr. Phibes
  • Edward Burnham as Dr. Dunwoody – (December 25, 1916 – June 30, 2015) To Sir, with Love, When Eight Bells Toll, The Abominable Dr. Phibes
  • Alex Scott as Dr. Hargreaves – (September 18, 1929 – June 25, 2015) Fahrenheit 451, The Abominable Dr. Phibes, The Asphyx
  • Peter Gilmore as Dr. Kitaj –  (August 25, 1931 – February 3, 2013) The Abominable Dr. Phibes, Warlords of Atlantis, TV episodes of The Onedin Line
  • Caroline Munro as photos of Phibes’s wife, Victoria Regina Phibes (born January 16, 1949) Casino Royale, The Abominable Dr. Phibes, Dracula A.D. 1972, Dr. Phibes Rises Again, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter, The Spy Who Loved Me, Maniac, The Last Horror Film, Slaughter High, Flesh for the Beast

Joseph Cotten would grumble on the set that he had to remember and deliver lines, while Vincent Price’s were all to be post-dubbed. Price responded, “Yes, but I still know them, Joe.” In fact, Price was well-known in Hollywood for his ability to memorize all of the characters’ lines in a given production, not just his own.

We hear the famous voice of Paul Frees during the frog death scene singing “The Darktown Strutters’ Ball”. Frees became best known for his work as a voice actor for animated films and television shows.

He worked in several Disney anthology series (as well as providing voices for many attractions at Disneyland) and on a number of Rankin/Bass television specials, memorably playing Burgermeister Meisterburger in Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town. Frees also played Boris Badenov in The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.

In 2009, a series of comics were released by Bluewater in the US featuring the character of Dr. Phibes as part of their Vincent Price Presents series.

With a knife in your hands? Doctor, I have no faith in your profession! I was told, after my crash, that I would never speak again. The doctors were, of course, wrong, for as you see and can hear, I have used my knowledge of music and acoustics to re-create my voice!

Dr. Phibes

This is a great movie. I loved all the sets, the songs, and the actors are all perfect. Even though Phibes doesn’t stick to the plagues exactly, the killing scenes were all excellent. I’m giving this horror flick 5 out of 5 stars.

  1. Highgate Cemetery is a place of burial in north London, England. There are approximately 170,000 people buried in around 53,000 graves across the West and East Cemeteries. Highgate Cemetery is notable both for some of the people buried there as well as for its de facto status as a nature reserve. The Cemetery is designated Grade I on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens. It is one of the Magnificent Seven cemeteries in London.

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Author: Doyle

I was born in Atlanta, moved to Alpharetta at 4, lived there for 53 years and moved to Decatur in 2016. I've worked at such places as Richway, North Fulton Medical Center, Management Science America (Computer Tech/Project Manager) and Stacy's Compounding Pharmacy (Pharmacy Tech).

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