The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971)

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Vincent Price has always been the go to guy for strange and kooky roles. He’s dependable and doesn’t mind hamming it up on occasion. He does so with real gusto as Dr. Phibes. Dr. Phibes is a tortured genius seeking revenge on 9 people he deems responsible for the death of his darling wife on the operating table. He devises a devilish scheme to exact the most painful and fiendish deaths on the his targets.

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Using the ten plagues inflicted on Egypt in biblical times as a template, Dr. Phibes, with the help of his glamorous assistant Vulnavia (Virginia North), goes about his ghastly business. I won’t spoil the death scenes, as they are very inventive, almost displaying a creativity not seen till the Saw movies came out many years later.  Hot on Dr. Phibes’ trail is Inspector Trout (Peter Jeffrey) who slowly begins to unravel the evil plan and Dr. Vesalius (Joseph Cotten), one of the men Dr. Phibes seeks to kill.

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The whole movie moves along at a fairly brisk pace and doesn’t hold back on the hideous leftovers of the victims once they are attacked. There are some very funny moments too, and cameo roles from many famous faces of yesteryear. Vincent Price is brilliant as Dr. Phibes, really letting loose and genuinely having fun in the role. Peter Jeffrey is great as the world weary Inspector Trout, always one step behind Phibes and also suffering the wrath of his inept superiors. Joseph Cotten is great as Dr. Vesalius, really getting into the role when things heat up.

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The transfer from Arrow Films is nothing short of astonishing. The picture is beautifully crisp, really letting you appreciate the wonderful set design. Although the sound is only Mono 1.0, it is still clear as a bell and I never once felt I had to put the volume up. I do recommend this film for all horror and Vincent Price fans, you won’t be disappointed. This copy of The Abominable Dr. Phibes was provided by the very kind folks at Arrow Films. You can get the box set containing this film and Dr. Phibes Rises Again now over at http://www.arrowfilms.co.uk.

4/5

JM

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Lord of Illusions (1995)

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Philip Swann (Kevin J . O’Connor) is a young trainee magician under the tutorship of fanatical cult leader Nix (Daniel Von Bargen). When Nix goes to far by capturing a young girl called Dorothea, Swann and some other cult members cast Nix down into a grave and seal him away from the world. 13 years later and Swann is a successful stage illusionist who is married to Dorothea (Famke Janssen). Dorothea hires private eye Harry D’Amour (Scott Bakula) to protect Swann, as elsewhere a group of rogue cult members seek to resurrect Nix.

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When Swann and other cult members that buried Nix are killed, Harry and Dorothea must seek to find the killers and stop them from bringing Nix back as it could spell the end for all mankind. Scott Bakula is great as Harry D’Amour. I have always felt he was an under appreciated actor, and he does very well here. Folks who read Clive Barker’s literature and the fantastic Hellraiser comic series will know that there is much more to Harry D’Amour, as he has tackled some truly evil characters, even a man with pins in his head. Hmmm whomever could I mean?

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Famke Janssen is also good as Dorothea who is not quite a damsel in distress, and does learn to hold her own. Kevin J. O’Connor is great as Swann, and I always like the kooky characters he plays in films like Deep Rising and The Mummy. The house that belongs to Dorothea in this movie is actually the house of the director Clive Barker, bit of trivia there.

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This copy of Lord of Illusions was provided by the very kind folks over at http://www.101-films.com. It is available now from all good stockists. The transfer is very nice, and with this release you get the directors cut on DVD too. It’s worth noting that the blu ray version is only of the theatrical cut. I do recommend it for those fans of horror and all things strange. It is a perfect film for a rainy night.

4/5

JM

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Edmond (2005)

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An encounter with a tarot card reader leaves Edmond (William H Macy) questioning his life, sending him spiralling out of control. After being told by the fortune teller “You are not where you belong”, Edmond goes home and tells his wife that their marriage is over. However this is only the first of many drastic events that Edmond finds himself in as he struggles to understand the meaning of his life.

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Edmond first seeks solace in a bar where he meets a gentleman who listens to his woes and offers him some advice. Then finding himself seeking the company of prostitutes to give him some sort of pleasure, but growing frustrated when it doesn’t offer him the release he seeks. As Edmond further explores the city he finds himself in more dangerous situations, eventually leading to murder.

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Based on stage play also written by screenwriter David Mamet, Edmond is a dark trip in to the mind of a man who has struggled to find meaning in a world he fears has none. Edmond seems to just want someone to listen and understand, but he looks for it in all the wrong places. The film is directed by Stuart Gordon who likes to deviate from the Lovecraft style horror from time to time, and he does well here. I must admit that the film did shock me when I first saw it, as the violence Edmond delivers to one woman was shockingly brutal.

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William H Macy is always worth watching and I find he is an incredibly diverse actor who can play roles you never thought him capable. I know many will not have heard of this movie, and for those that have I want to say don’t believe the bad write ups, and make your own minds up. The movie also features small supporting roles from Mena Suvari, Julia Stiles, Denise Richards and even a cameo from Jeffrey Combs. I highly recommend it.

4/5

JM

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