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Dr. Phibes Rises Again

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Dr. Phibes Rises Again
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRobert Fuest
Written by
Produced byLouis M. Heyward
CinematographyAlex Thomson
Edited byTristam V. Cones
Music byJohn Gale
Distributed byAnglo-EMI Film Distributors Ltd./MGM-EMI (U.K.)
Release date
  • July 1972 (1972-07)
Running time
88 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

Dr. Phibes Rises Again is a 1972 British horror-dark comedy film, produced by Louis M. Heyward, directed by Robert Fuest, that stars Vincent Price and Robert Quarry. The film is a sequel to The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971). After seeking vengeance on the doctors whom he blamed for his wife's death in the first film, Phibes returns to seek eternal life in Egypt, while he pursues a centuries-old man who holds the ancient secrets that Phibes needs.


Following his murderous quest for vengeance in the previous film, Dr. Anton Phibes eludes capture by placing himself in suspended animation in a sarcophagus shared with his wife's body. He plans to return when the Moon enters into a specific alignment with the planets not seen in 2,000 years. Three years later, the conjunction occurs and Phibes rises from his sarcophagus. Summoning his silent assistant Vulnavia (Valli Kemp, replacing Virginia North), Phibes prepares to take Victoria's body to Egypt; there, in a hidden temple, flows the River of Life, promising resurrection for Victoria and eternal life for them both. Emerging from his basement, Phibes discovers that his mansion has been demolished. A safe, containing an ancient papyrus map to the river, is now empty.

Phibes knows of only one person who could be seeking the same goal: Darius Biederbeck (Robert Quarry), a man who has lived for centuries through the regular use of a special elixir. After translating the papyrus, Biederbeck prepares to travel to Egypt to find the River of Life for himself and his lover Diana (Fiona Lewis). Phibes and Vulnavia enter Biederbeck's house, kill his manservant, and reclaim the papyrus; they leave for Southampton to take a ship to Egypt. Biederbeck follows and travels on the same ship with Diana and his assistant Ambrose (Hugh Griffith). When Ambrose discovers Victoria's body stored in the hold, Phibes kills him. His body is stuffed in a giant bottle and thrown overboard. Inspector Trout (Peter Jeffrey) discovers the corpse when the bottle washes ashore near Southampton. He and Superintendent Waverley (John Cater) question shipping agent Lombardo (Terry-Thomas); upon hearing the descriptions of the tall woman (Vulnavia) and a clockwork band being loaded aboard, they realize that Dr. Phibes has somehow returned.

Trout and Waverley pursue Phibes to Egypt, catching up to Biederbeck's archaeological party near the mountain housing the hidden temple. Phibes, having set up residence inside the temple, hides Victoria's body in a secret compartment of an empty sarcophagus. He also finds the silver key that opens the gates to the River of Life. Phibes kills each of Biederbeck's men using methods inspired by Egyptian mythology: one man is killed by a hawk, another is stung to death by scorpions. Biederbeck's team eventually breaks into the temple and takes the sarcophagus, and Biederbeck discovers the key. Using a giant fan to simulate a windstorm, Vulnavia enters the tent with the sarcophagus and Phibes uses a giant screw press to crush the man guarding it. Though the sarcophagus is retrieved and Victoria's body is safe, Phibes discovers that the key is missing.

Biederbeck is unmoved by the murders and insists on continuing. He sends Diana and Hackett (Gerald Sim), the last remaining team member, back to England. Hackett leaves his truck to contact a unit of British troops, but finds they are really more of Phibes' clockwork men. When he returns to the truck, Diana is gone and he is sand-blasted to death. His truck crashes into Biederbeck's tent.

Realizing Phibes must have taken Diana, Biederbeck confronts him. Phibes demands the key in exchange for Diana's life, claiming that thanks to the ancient builders of the temple, when the gate is opened the water will drain out of Diana's trap and flow through the gate thus making it possible to free her without injury. Unable to free her from Phibes' water trap, Biederbeck surrenders the key and gives up his quest. Phibes unlocks the gate to the River of Life, boats Victoria's coffin through it, and summons Vulnavia to join them on the other side.

Biederbeck returns to the gate just as it closes, pleading through the bars for Phibes to take him along, but Phibes ignores him and poles the boat down the ancient passageway. Diana attempts to comfort Biederbeck, but he begins to rapidly age. On his boat that slowly fades from sight, Phibes sings "Over the Rainbow" as Biederbeck finally succumbs to extreme old age and dies.



Producer Heyward brought in Blees, as he felt Blees' sense of humor would work well with a Phibes film. Heyward said that writers Blees and Fuest did not agree on how to write the film, which forced Heyward to mediate. The ensuing debates between Blees and Fuest resulted in what Heyward said was "a very good script" that could be used for teaching purposes. AIP was grooming Quarry as Price's replacement,[1] and the two were rumored to not get along well;[2] however, Heyward said he was aware of no tension between the actors on set.[1] Quarry provided his version in a subsequent interview, stating that he was told he would be Price's replacement when his contract ran out, which was meant to be between him and the studio. He stated that Price was not particularly interested in working with the studio, and AIP did not appreciate the salary that was steadily rising for him while his features were not doing as well. It was a publicity event in England that Price heard about being replaced, since a publicist came up and asked him how it felt to be replaced by Quarry. In terms of production, Quarry stated that while Price and him had a rift, it did not affect the production of the film, saying it was "extremely pleasant. Our sense of humor was the one bond that made working with him a pleasure."[3]

Vulnavia was not initially intended to return, but AIP insisted on it. Since Virginia North was pregnant at the time, Valli Kemp was cast instead.[2] The desert scenes were shot in Ibiza, Spain.[1] In addition to Price, four actors returned from the previous film: Peter Jeffrey, John Cater in the same roles, and Hugh Griffith and Terry-Thomas in new ones. In addition photographs of Caroline Munro as Phibes wife Victoria were used as they had been in the previous film.


AIP solicited scripts for a third film, but Heyward said they never found a suitable one.[1] Proposed titles included Phibes Resurrectus, The Bride of Dr. Phibes, and The Seven Fates of Dr. Phibes.[2]


Variety wrote that Vincent Price "delivers one of his priceless theatric performances" and that producer Louis M. Heyward had "lined up a first-rate crew of technical assistants".[4] Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune gave the film one star, criticizing the "cheapness of the production" and the "unmotivated, mostly unimaginative" violence.[5] Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times wrote, "Those who enjoyed the campy horror of last year's Dr. Phibes are in for a keen disappointment" and called the script "astonishingly slapdash".[6] Philip Strick of The Monthly Film Bulletin wrote, "It's refreshing to find a sequel that's better than its prototype. The return of the abominable Phibes, his pallor flushed with the success of his initial screen appearance, is accompanied both by a larger budget and, more to the point, by a greater display of confidence at all levels of the production".[7]

At the film review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 60% of 15 surveyed critics gave the film a positive review, with an average rating of 5.7/10.[8] In Horror Movies of the 1970s, writer John Kenneth Muir described the film as "no better or worse than its predecessor".[9] In The Penguin Encyclopaedia of Horror and the Supernatural Kim Newman wrote: "Dr Phibes Rises Again lacks the gleeful insanity of the first film, but is far more achieved".[10]


The film score by John Gale was released on Perseverance Records 20 March 2003.

The song used at the end of the film, "Over the Rainbow," was written nearly 10 years after the story's time frame.


  1. ^ a b c d Weaver, Tom (2000). Return of the B Science Fiction and Horror Heroes. McFarland & Company. pp. 182–183. ISBN 9780786407552.
  2. ^ a b c Hallenbeck, Bruce G. (2009). Comedy-Horror Films: A Chronological History, 1914-2008. McFarland & Company. p. 96–98. ISBN 9780786453788.
  3. ^ "Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972) – A Retrospective – Cinefantastique".
  4. ^ "Doctor Phibes Rises Again". Variety: 14. 19 July 1972.
  5. ^ Siskel, Gene (July 18, 1972). "Dr. Phibes..." Chicago Tribune. Section 2, p. 5.
  6. ^ Thomas, Kevin (August 11, 1972). "'Dr. Phibes' Rides Again". Los Angeles Times. Part IV, p. 22.
  7. ^ Strick, Philip (November 1972). "Dr. Phibes Rises Again". The Monthly Film Bulletin. 39 (466): 230.
  8. ^ "Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 11 April 2016.
  9. ^ Muir, John Kenneth (2002). Horror Films of the 1970s. McFarland & Company. p. 191. ISBN 9780786491568.
  10. ^ Sullivan, Jack (ed.) (1986). Penguin Encyclopaedia of Horror and the Supernatural. Viking Penguin. p. 1. ISBN 0670809020.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)

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This page was last edited on 25 November 2021, at 19:57
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