The Complete Dr. Phibes resurrects the vengeful villain’s two films by bringing his adventures to Blu-ray. The sequel Dr. Phibes Rises Again! opens with a recap of the devilish disfigured doctors inventive killing spree which culminated in his suicide.
Obviously this was nothing but a cunning ruse, as three years later Dr. Phibes (Vincent Price) is brought back from the brink ready to resume his quest for eternal life for himself and his beloved wife Victoria (Maniac’s Caroline Munro), whose death he avenged in The Abominable Dr. Phibes.
However, his well laid plans have been scuppered before they have begun as an ancient Egyptian papyrus scroll that details a Pharaoh’s tomb where the River of Life flows has been stolen from his possession.
The thief is eccentric millionaire Darrus Biederbeck (Count Yorga himself, Robert Quarry) who shares much in common with Phibes in his obsession with finding the key to everlasting youth.
As both embark on their separate missions to Egypt the pair of rivals become intrinsically entwined as Phibes sets about killing off anyone and everyone who stands in his way in his own indomitable sick and twisted style.
Directed once again by Robert Fuest and continuing the story as any solid sequel should, Dr. Phibes Rises Again! brings many of the major actors back to reprise their roles. There’s Peter Jeffrey as Inspector Trout and John Cater as Superintendent Waverley the dithering Scotland Yard detectives who failed to catch Phibes in the first film.
Added to this is a cast of odd ball characters played by some pretty famous British actors, including Peter Cushing, Hugh Griffith, John Thaw, Beryl Reid and somewhat confusingly Terry-Thomas who had the blood drained out of him as a completely different character in the previous instalment.
The films main aim is to offer more of the same and this is both its greatest strength and biggest weakness.
Price is amazing as always and this time round has a lot more to say, all be it through his strange gramophone voice box. Counterpoising Phibes character against the determined and callous Darrus Biederbeck makes things more interesting as the duo battle wits and Quarry gives a fine turn against Price’s perfect performance.
The design and overall look of the film is still stunning if slightly more obvious, combining art-deco with 70’s flamboyance. Best of all we are treated to a whole new bunch of new and epic death scenes including a giant scorpion trap, a crazed eagle attack, a savage sand blasting and a man literally screwed to death.
Sadly it seems the story is somewhat lacking in comparison and the structure is far too reminiscent of the previous movie. This leaves the viewer entertained but overall unsatisfied come the climax feeling like they have seen it all before but better, in Phibes’ first horrific adventure.
Although not as good as The Abominable Dr. Phibes, Dr. Phibes Rises Again! is well worth watching, especially as it comes as part of Arrows amazing box set packed full of fantastic extras.