Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Favorite Fictional Character --- Dr. Phibes


Right from the beginning I knew I wanted to do at least one Vincent Price character during the month of October.  Halloween is just not as scary if it doesn't include one of the greatest character actors to work in the genre of horror movies.  The only problem was narrowing it down to one.  After hours of soul searching (I know I'm laying it on a little thick but that's ok with me), I settled on a character that he played twice.  In the movies The Abominable Dr. Phibes and Dr. Phibes Rises Again, Vincent Price plays an almost sympathetic character, who just happens to be a cold blooded murderer.  So with no further introduction from me, I would like you to meet, Dr. Phibes.


Dr. Anton Phibes was a respected concert organist who just happened to hold doctorate degrees in both music and theology.  His whole world comes crashing to halt when he is presumed dead in a horrific car accident as he is trying to get to his wife who's on the brink of death.  He survived the accident but was so disfigured by it that he had to fashion a mask and wig in order to resemble the man he was before the accident.  When he found out that his wife, Victoria, died on the operating table, he convinces himself that it was the result of malpractice and vows vengeance on those responsible.

A few years later, he starts killing the eight doctors and one nurse he feels are responsible for the death of his wife.  Where he distinguishes himself from other boring killers, are the methods he chooses to torture his victims.  As a doctor of theology, Anton is quite familiar with Biblical stories and he uses the plagues of Egypt to wield his vengeance.

No obviously since the plagues are very specific he has to improvise on some of them.  Instead of being inflicted with boils, the first victim is stung to death by bees, which cause boil like sores to erupt all over his body. 

The bats plague was a little easier to pull off, all he had to do was allow a bunch of them to maul his next victim to death. 

The plague of frogs, my favorite by the way, was to send a mechanical frog mask to a Doctor that was attending a costume party.  Once on the mask could not be removed and a predetermined time, the mechanism started to tighten around the throat of it's victim, crushing the throat and killing the doctor. 

Blood and hail were rather easier to execute, bleed one victim to death and use a ice machine to kill the other. 

After the death of the poor doctor by rats, I didn't want to fly for a while.  The poor guy was flying a plane when all the sudden tons of rats starting pouring out of everywhere causing him to crash. 

Beasts was probably the biggest stretch for me, I was expecting the victim to be fed to a lion or end up as a bears lunch.  Instead the poor guy is impaled by the horn of a brass unicorn. 

Then we come to the death of the nurse.  While she is sleeping Dr. Phibes pours a green, gooey substance of what I assume is some kind of plant material all over her body.  He then allows locusts to enter her room where the proceed to eat her all up.

With only one doctor remaining and the next plague that of the first born, Dr. Phibes kidnaps the doctor's son and forces him to operate on him.  When the doctor shows up to rescue his son, he finds him strapped to a table, with a vat of acid hanging over his face.  The key to free him has been implanted next to his heart and the doctor only has six minutes to find the key and free his son.  Luckily the doctor is able to save his son, but not before Dr. Phibes escaped to places unknown.

Now you may be saying to yourself, what a horrible man to kill in such a manner.  I on the other hand, as cheesy as they are, am completely blown away by the man's creativity.  I can totally understand the kind of grief that can cause a man to lose himself in the need for revenge.  Now do I think it justifies the murders, no I don't.  But what I can appreciate is the planning in and the execution of an elaborate scheme that uses all the knowledge of mechanics, religion, music, and science that Dr. Phibes possesses.  He is an inspired killer and tons of fun to watch.  Besides you have to appreciate his art deco sense of style.

So for all of you horror fans out there, I encourage you to watch The Abominable Dr. Phibes as soon as you can.  If you like it, go ahead and watch the sequel.  I enjoyed it but not nearly as much as the first.

2 comments:

Heather J. said...

That's a bit too creepy for my taste! However - have you ever listened to Vincent Price on Old Time Radio? If not, then you absolutely have to listen "Three Skeleton Key" - it is a creepy classic!

Michelle @ The True Book Addict said...

Love, love, love Vincent Price! This character is so creepy! I really love all his movies. I just watched Twice Told Tales the other night. He was just so awesome! I have a biography about him written by his daughter. I really need to read it someday!

I'm still trying to think of a character to do and it's almost midnight...LOL!