Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972)

  • Time: 89 min
  • Genre: Comedy | Horror
  • Director: Robert Fuest
  • Cast: Vincent Price, Robert Quarry, Valli Kemp


The moon rises at a predestined angle and awakens the sleeping Dr. Phibes three years later. To his dismay, he finds his house has been demolished and his papyrus scrolls stolen, the scrolls he needs to find the Pharoah’s Tomb in Egypt, where the River of Life flows. After identifying the source of the papyrus theft, he packs and leaves for Egypt with his assistant Vulnavia, still intent upon awakening his dead wife Victoria. The parties responsible for the theft of Phibes’ scrolls suffer an attrition problem as Inspector Trout chases him across the world.

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  • At the end of the first film, The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971), the titular genius laid himself to rest in suspended animation after laying his vengeance upon the ones he blamed for the death of his wife, Victoria. Three years later, when the moon aligns itself with the planets in a way not seen for a thousand years, Phibes (Vincent Price) rises again, and this time he is in search of the elusive River of Life, which promises resurrection for Victoria and immortality for the two of them. Discovering that a sacred scroll containing the map to the River of Life has been stolen by the equally demented Darrus Biederbeck (Robert Quarry), Phibes, along with his beautiful assistant Vulnavia (Valli Kemp), heads to Egypt where the tomb is hidden, murdering anyone who dares stand in his way.

    With director Robert Fuest returning for the sequel, there’s a real sense of continuity to the film, especially when a few actors – their characters slain in the first – occasionally pop up as for cameos that play out like small comic vignettes. Yet while, plot-wise, the first film was a relatively straight-forward albeit utterly bonkers tale of revenge, Rises Again is almost like a heist film, as two rival men, both mad geniuses (with one clearly madder than the other), scrap it out to uncover the most rewarding of prizes. The change of approach is certainly commendable, but it also means there’s less fun to be had. Watching Price gleefully butcher a group of hapless doctors in a variety of inventive and preposterous ways in the first instalment was an absolute delight, but Phibes’s battle-of-wits with his nemesis here doesn’t offer quite the same amount of opportunities for inventive set-pieces.

    Anyone searching for a bit of tongue-in-cheek horror will certainly get a bit of relief though, as Biederback’s team find themselves the poor saps to be routinely offed, this time inspired by Egyptian mythology such a scorpions and a hawk. Sadly, there just isn’t quite enough of it. With the blood-letting turned down, Rises Again increases the insanity factors. Sets adorned with psychedelic decoration and Phibes’s numerous outrageous costumes means the film is also beautiful to look at. Price looks he is genuinely having a ball and no matter how sadistic his character gets as he demolishes anyone who crosses his path, you’ll be rooting for him all the way. At the end, it feels like the story of Dr. Phibes is not quite finished, with American International Pictures’ planned sequel unfortunately never coming to fruition.

    Rating: 3/5

    Read more reviews at The Wrath of Blog

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