- Dr. Phibes Rises Again
Dr. Phibes Rises Again!
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Robert Fuest Produced by Samuel Z. Arkoff
Richard F. Dalton
Louis M. Heyward
Written by Robert Blees
Starring Vincent Price
Music by John Gale Cinematography Alex Thomson Editing by Tristam V. Cones Distributed by Anglo-EMI Film Distributors Ltd./MGM-EMI (UK)
American International Pictures (USA)
Release date(s) 1972 Running time 88 min. Language English
The moon rises at a predestined angle and awakens the sleeping Dr. Phibes in 1928, three years after the events of the previous movie. To his dismay, he finds that his house has been demolished and his papyrus scrolls stolen, the scrolls he needs to find the Pharaoh'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 - whose face displays no effects from the acid shower she received at the end of the previous film (although the character is now played by a different actress, Valli Kemp). His primary goal is the awakening of his dead wife, Victoria.
The thieves of Phibes' scrolls suffer an attrition problem as Inspectors Trout and Waverly chase Phibes across the world. The party is led by Biederbeck (Robert Quarry, best known for playing Count Yorga). Although he looks young, he is several hundred years old and wants to find the River of Life in order to stay alive and be with his lover Diana (Fiona Lewis) forever. This time Phibes' murders all have an Egyptian theme to them; for example, one character is sand-blasted to death. Other deaths include someone being stung to death by scorpions, being eaten by an eagle (in the original script impaled by a gold eagle in the same way a doctor in The Abominable Dr. Phibes was impaled by a golden unicorn), and a golden snake piercing someone's skull. A man was also killed by a crusher.
At the climax, Beiderbeck sacrifices his life in order to save Diana. The film ends with Phibes riding a raft down the River of Life with Victoria, while singing "Over the Rainbow" (which is strange, as this film is set in 1928 but "Over The Rainbow" wasn't written until 1938). It is left ambiguous whether Victoria is resurrected or not, although a picture inside the DVD shows her in the raft with her eyes open and smiling at the camera.
- Vincent Price as Dr. Anton Phibes
- Robert Quarry as Darrus Biederbeck
- Valli Kemp as Vulnavia
- Peter Jeffrey as Inspecter Trout
- Fiona Lewis as Diana Trowbridge
- Hugh Griffith as Harry Ambrose
- Peter Cushing as Captain
- Beryl Reid as Miss Ambrose
- Terry-Thomas as Lombardo
- John Cater as Superintendent Waverley
- Gerald Sim as Hackett
- Lewis Fiander as Baker
- John Thaw as Shavers
- Keith Buckley as Stewart
- Milton Reid as Butler
- Caroline Munro as Victoria Regina Phibes
Production and reception
The movie was filmed in London and on location in a desert in Spain in December 1971 through January 1972, and released in July 1972. The original Vulnavia, Virginia North, was pregnant and was replaced by model Valli Kemp, who had been Miss Australia of 1970.
The film was rushed into production after the success of the first. The script, penned by Fuest, suffered due to budget restraints, as well as studio meddling (it was they who forced Vulnavia to return, Phibes was originally to have a new assistant, as well as many parts and plot points getting edited out, leaving some viewers confused.) Phibes' over-the-top murders in the film seem to be done as much for the demented glee of it than out of revenge, as was the case in the original film. It did not help that Vincent Price and Robert Quarry did not get along well behind the scenes, what with Quarry accusing Price of overacting, and Price viewing his costar as an AIP-sanctioned Eve Harrington. Some other actors from the original film, such as Terry-Thomas, appeared in different roles.
Due to copyright difficulties, Price's rendition of "Over the Rainbow" was replaced on the original VHS release by background music lifted from the end credits of "The Abominable Dr. Phibes" For prints shown in theaters and on television, the original ending is always intact. The original music is restored on the DVD edition. (Several other American International Pictures from this period suffered a similar fate when released for home video, having their original scores replaced. For example: Witchfinder General and Scream and Scream Again.)
While opinion on this film is divided, it is generally considered as good as the first Phibes outing. Over the years, like the first film, it has developed a strong cult following.
Unfilmed screenplays and proposed sequels
1971: The Bride of Dr. Phibes. William Goldstein and James Whiton proposed this to AIP as a sequel to the first film. Set in the year 1934, it details a battle of wits between Phibes and a strange man named Emil Salveus, a member of a secret Satanic society called the Institute for Psychic Phenomena. We learn that Salveus is actually Lem Vesalius, the son of Joseph Cotten's Henri Vesalius who'd earlier appeared in The Abominable Dr. Phibes. Salveus manages to steal Victoria's body, leading Phibes to kill off the various members of the IPP in a quest to recover her.
First to go is the group's leader, Colonel Trenchard, whom Phibes encases in amber and shatters in a million pieces. This is carried out at the IPP offices, and is also where Phibes gets the names and addresses of the other members. Charles Carruthers is soon sucked dry by leeches in his bathtub. Orchestra conductor Sir Mastin Mateland finds himself covered with melted butter and eaten by a lobster. Lady Peune has a helium balloon tied to her wheelchair and ascends to the heavens. Arch Vicar Wren has his organs sucked out by a vacuum device. Sir Judah Ido Adibo of the Abyssinian Embassy is left with a clutch of cobras in his bed. Salveus himself falls into an acid pit he'd previously prepared for Phibes.
Ultimately Phibes manages to recover and revive Victoria in a scene recalling The Bride of Frankenstein (1935). As Scotland Yard invades Phibes' manor, the doctor and his bride enter a freezing chamber which will preserve them for a future date. A perplexed Inspector Trout remarks, "Commissioner, we could search hell and damnation, scour the very bowels of this earth....but he'll never be found. (pause) Perhaps he was never meant to exist".
Producer Louis Heyward rejected The Bride of Dr. Phibes, instead tapping his old friend Robert Blees to script something entirely different. Blees' first idea, which never progressed beyond one-page conjecture, was tentatively titled Phibes II and would've had Phibes pitting wits against Robert Quarry's Count Yorga. Blees ousted this in favor of the Egyptian scenario soon to become Dr. Phibes Rises Again, with Robert Fuest stepping in to do a re-write. The idea of casting Quarry remained, as Phibes' counterpart Darius Biederbeck rather than Yorga.
197?: Dr. Phibes in the Holy Land. Mentioned by Vincent Price in a number of interviews. Copies of the screenplay remain elusive.
197?: The Son of Dr. Phibes by Robert Fuest. Unknown how far along this got in scripting. Phibes would've been joined by his son (to have been played by a young Vincent Price look-alike) to wage war on environmental polluters. The modus operandi would involve natural-geologic phenomenon: tidal waves, earthquakes and so on.
1977: Phibes Resurrectus. This is the same thing as The Bride of Dr. Phibes, with minor alterations. Goldstein and Whiton sold it to Roger Corman's New World Pictures; Corman in turn planned to cast Forrest J Ackerman (the self-described Poor Man's Vincent Price) as a mechanical Phibes doppelganger that fools Inspector Trout during sequence set in a stadium (Wembley in the Bride version, simply "soccer stadium" here).
1981: Dr. Phibes. Definitely exists in the form of a brief outline/sales pitch by Goldstein and Whiton; it is unknown whether the idea progressed to scripting stages. Phibes is revived in 1981 and sets sail for New York aboard his 98-foot yacht. The city's diseased squalor is contrasted with Phibes' seafaring Art Deco idyll, replete with Clockwork Wizards, Vulnavia and of course the dearly departed Victoria.
Ensconced in a resplendent penthouse apartment, Phibes plans to resurrect his bride and build a new life in America. His activities rouse the interest of the Wormwood Institute, an elite "think tank of glorious eggheads" led by the 80 year old Hector Seneca Cicero Wormwood. Each of the six Institute members, we learn, leads a "strange private life".
Astrophysicist Bulwark Stanton, the most devious of the group, is obsessed with little girls and keeps a mechanical effigy of one at home. Lester is threatening to disprove Einstein's theory of general relativity at the age of 12; he's champing at the bit to match wits with Phibes. The Smith Brothers, experts in economics and nuclear weaponry, are identical twin transvestites. Wormwood himself wet nurses directly from the tap, laboring under the illusion that such is the key to eternal life.
When the old man smashes Victoria's glass coffin, she dries out and decomposes. Phibes is enraged and vows revenge. He kills off each of the Institute members according to their greatest love; the germ warfare expert Mr. Nim enjoys chocolate, and is summarily transformed into a chocolate statue, etc. Phibes concurrently conducts an urgent search for the essential salts to restore Victora's vitality.
1984: Phibes Resurrectus from Goldstein and Whiton. This one was prepared for Richard Rubenstein and George Romero under the Laurel Productions banner. More or less the same thing as twice before, but with a re-written first act. Instead of opening with Phibes reawakening in his coffin, he is first seen in a hot air balloon (bearing the motto "NON OMNIS MORIAR") over "the white cliffs of Dover". This he lands in a cemetery, thereupon proceeding into Victoria's tomb.
Most interesting of all, however, is the attached list of proposed stars.
PHIBES - David Carradine
EMIL - Paul Williams
STEUBEN - Orson Welles
WREN - Roddy McDowall
LADY PEUNE - Coral Browne
WOMBER - Donald Pleasence
PROBY - John Carradine
ADIBO - Sam Jaffe 
198? The Seven Fates of Dr. Phibes. A treatment by Paul Clemens and Ron Magid. It was submitted to Vincent Price who heartily approved and agreed to recreate his role one more time. It begins where Dr. Phibes Rises Again left off, with Phibes and a revived Victoria departing their Egyptian abode on a quest to recover seven ivory statues depicting figures out of Greek mythology. These statues will allow the pair to join with the gods in the heavens. Upon returning to London however, Phibes discovers that his house has been demolished and the statues sold off to various individuals. Phibes elects to murder each of them in a manner befitting the particular mythological character they possess.
Dekker has a statue of Cyclops; his eye is poked out. Thundershaft has a Cerberus; Phibes presents him with a large Cerberus figure, one head of which shoots string to tie him up, followed by the second head which spouts gasoline and the third which issues fire. Azzared has an Arachne; her room is filled with spiders. Halifax has a Medusa; he is cased in cement, effectively turning him into stone. The murder spree continues, with Trout and Waverley of Scotland Yard again finding themselves dogged at every turn by the deadly doctor.
The final statue, the Minotaur, is owned by Phibes' archenemy Prof. Norquist. He has found the River of Death, Styx, the waters from which, when packed into bullets, have the capability to end Phibes' eternal life. Norquist is eventually killed by Phibes and the statues are joined, opening the heavens to him.
Vulnavia's true identity is revealed: the goddess Athena. She says, "Come children of Zeus" as Phibes and Victoria ascend to the heavens through an opening in the mountain top, playing the organ all the while. Waverley, who with Trout has followed Phibes all the way to his mountain hideaway in Crete, believes it all to be a trick and says, "Strike me dead if it's not a hoax"; he is promptly struck by a lightning bolt and turns into a puff of smoke. Over the Rainbow plays while the credits roll.
Louis Heyward also tried to interest NBC in a Phibes TV series. It would've recast the doctor as a benevolent crimefighter who uses his makeup and technological wizardry to ensnare criminals. Goldstein wrote the pilot.
Tagline: Flesh crawls! Blood curdles! Phibes lives!
The film score by John Gale was released on Perseverance Records March 20, 2003.
Notes and references
- ^ Whiton, James and William Goldstein. The Bride of Dr. Phibes (1971) screenplay.
- ^ http://www.hollywoodgothique.com/drphibesrisesagain.html
- ^ Robert Fuest interview, Psychotronic # 41
- ^ Whiton, James and William Goldstein. Phibes Resurrectus screenplay (1977).
- ^ Whiton, James and William Goldstein. Dr. Phibes treatment (1981).
- ^ Whiton, James and William Goldstein. Phibes Resurrectus screenplay and attached cast list (1984).
- ^ Clemens, Paul and Ron Magid. The Seven Fates of Dr. Phibes treatment and attached letter from Vincent Price (undated).
- Dr. Phibes Rises Again at the Internet Movie Database
- Dr. Phibes Rises Again at AllRovi
- Dr. Phibes Rises Again - A Hollywood Gothique Retrospective
Films directed by Robert Fuest 1970s 1980s
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