Sequels rarely top the original, a fact that Cinema fans all over the world have had to accept. If Einstein dictates that E = mc2, then the rules of Cinema dictate that a good film must almost always be followed by one of a lesser standard. Of course every now and then a sequel will waddle along that can top the original, sadly Dr Phibes Rises again fails at this despite giving it a decent shot. It’s still greatly superior to many films in this genre but sadly it’s a step down from the incredibly insane original. The reason why Phibes Rises again just isn’t in the same league as the original? Of course there are many separate reasons but it all boils down to the fact that it just isn’t as entertaining as The Abominable Dr Phibes. Mind you, it does do a bloody good job at trying.
One good thing is that the plot if anything is completely different to that of the first film. Phibes has risen from a sleep of three years and has decided that he, along with a resurrected Vulnavia and the corpse of his wife will depart to Egypt. Why? To search for the river of life of course! In his possession Phibes has a Papyrus that details the way to a hidden tomb deep within a mountain where he and his wife will be able to find the river, meaning resurrection for her and eternal life for the both of them. Things are not as easy as they sound however as Phibes is not the only one searching for the river, a man known as Beiderbeck is looking also, a man who reputedly is hundreds of years old. As the two get ever closer to finding the river, Phibes dispatches off the members of Beiderbeck’s team in his usual flamboyant and extravagant style.
The film defiantly gains points in originality, being the replacement for a script entitled The Bride of Dr Phibes, in which Phibes dispatches the members of a satanic society who have kidnapped his wife’s corpse. The leader is revealed to be the son of Dr Versailius from the first movie, who puts Phibes through a similar ordeal to the one he was put through in the closing sequences of The Abominable Dr Phibes. Sounds interesting on paper right? Sadly the script was criticised for being too similar to the first film and this was when Robert Feust demanded something completely new. What we get is a plot that does at least seem refreshing and bonkers enough to excite the viewer’s interest. There is one small problem however, mainly in the area of continuity. Perhaps I am alone in this view but I find it difficult that the same Dr Phibes from the first movie spent many years obsessed with finding eternal life when in the first movie he talks about how glorious a sleep death is. It’s a small niggle but it provides a substantial enough divide between the two.
The second problem and one often chosen to be criticised in most reviews is the lack of a “theme” surrounding the murders committed by Phibes. With the original each death was linked in some way to the Ten Plagues of Egypt, giving at least some motive to the care and precision gone into each murder. With this film Phibes just seems to commit overly complicated murders for no reason what so ever. Once again- a small niggle but it creates a large problem, the sad fact is that such a problem could have been easily corrected by Phibes claiming that he will murder them in ways relating to the eternal spirits of the desert or some such nonsense.
Other problems include Phibes spending most of the film stalking around his lair despite the fact he’s supposed to be hunting for this river, and the time it takes them to get the Egypt. However despite not being perfect, Phibes rises Again is still a Phibes film and so it’s still way above average in entertainment value. Highlights include the stellar cast including an amusing cameo appearance by Peter Cushing, making up for the fact he had to hand over his role of Dr Versailius in the first film to Joseph Cotton when his wife became ill and later died in the same year. Terry Thomas crops up again as a different character and Vincent prices real life rival Robert Quarry (known to me and you as Count Yorga) plays Beiderbeck. Once again Price returns as Phibes getting a lot more lines in this one and the character becomes a bit more fun loving and less serious, probably due to the fact that he is no longer searching for revenge. The design once again is a quirky art deco, including Phibes headquarters deep within an Egyptian mountain. Perhaps my favourite design is the trailer which Phibes uses to carry his wife’s cadaver; you have to see it to believe it.
Phibes Rises again is a step down from The Abominable Dr Phibes yet it is still a Phibes film and of course is worth your attention. However I would suggest only seeking this out if you have seen the first film and enjoyed it, it’s not worth the time on its own.
Welcome one and all- Please leave sanity at the door
A Teenage boy with a passion for all things nerdy! Expect a lot of Doctor Who, Cult/Horror Movies, Literature and Novels, History, Comic Books and random thoughts. Posts published weekly on a Friday evening. DISCLAIMER: I do not own any of the items reviewed on this site and i also do not own of the pictures (unless stated so). If you own one of the photos and wish for it to be removed contact me at this adress: Super.firstname.lastname@example.org. However all of the written work is my own and is protected under copyright law.