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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House of Usher (1960)

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I have always had a soft spot for anything starring Vincent Price, however I entered this film with some trepidation as it is directed by Roger Corman who isn’t exactly renowned for his high class entertainment.

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The film centres on a young man by the name of Philip Winthrop (played by Mark Damon) , who travels to the House of Usher to meet his fiancé Madeline Usher and take her back to Boston. There he is welcomed by the butler Bristol, who informs him that he cannot come in as Madeline and her brother Roderick Usher (Vincent Price) have been stricken with a mysterious illness. Philip insists the butler let’s him in. Philip is then informed by Roderick that it is impossible for Madeline to leave, as there is a curse which means that when there’s more than one Usher in the bloodline, they are cursed to go insane and die. What follows is a night of insanity that all will struggle to survive.

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The film is based on a story by Edgar Allan Poe. The transfer itself is immaculate and credit must go to ArrowFilms&Video in this regard as they really have done well here. The acting from Vincent Price is always great, and he doesn’t disappoint here. Mark Damon however is not very convincing, so perhaps it’s no surprise that he now makes a living producing movies and not starring in them. Madeline played by Myrna Fahey does the best with what she’s given, but it amounts to little more than screams and shrieks.

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To be quite frank this film didn’t really to it for me. The build up was a tad tedious and I found the payoff just didn’t live up to all that went before. Still worth a watch I’d say, but not a purchase for me. The extras include a commentary with Roger Corman and Joe Dante, an interview with horror expert Jonathan Rigby and a video essay by David Cairns examining the film in relation to Poe’s story. Also included are an original trailer and an interview from 1986 with Vincent Price, which has French subtitles that can’t be removed as it was originally broadcast on French TV. The jewel case release has a fabulous reverseable sleeve with art by Graham Humphreys, however a lovely steelbook will also be available.

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This copy of ‘The Fall of The House of Usher’ was graciously provided by the kind folks over at www.facebook.com/ArrowVid. You can pre-order your copy today from www.arrowfilms.co.uk

2/5

JM

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