The Abominable Dr. Phibes

Critics Consensus

The Abominable Dr. Phibes juggles horror and humor, but under the picture's campy façade, there's genuine pathos brought poignantly to life through Price's performance.



Total Count: 36


Audience Score

User Ratings: 8,647
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The Abominable Dr. Phibes Photos

Movie Info

Long thought dead, the victim of a horrible accident, Dr. Anton Phibes (Vincent Price) still lives, surrounded by art-deco bric-a-brac and attended by mute beauty Vulnavia (Virginia North). Outwardly normal in appearance, Phibes actually wears a rubber mask, covering his hideously deformed countenance; giving away the artifice is the fact that, when he dines, he takes his food through his neck rather than his mouth. Able to speak only when plugging a wire into his damaged vocal chords, Phibes elucidates his plan to murder the medical team whom he holds responsible for the death of his wife. Each of the killings is patterned after the ten deadly plagues. Phibes saves his worst for last: trapping chief surgeon Dr. Vesalius in his lair, Phibes forces the hapless medico into a race against time to save the life of his own son.


Vincent Price
as Dr. Phibes
Joseph Cotten
as Dr. Vesalius
as Dr. Longstreet
Aubrey Woods
as Goldsmith
Susan Travers
as Nurse Allan
Alex Scott
as Dr. Hargreaves
Peter Gilmore
as Dr. Kitaj
Edward Burnham
as Dr. Dunwoody
Peter Jeffrey
as Inspector Trout
Maurice Kaufmann
as Dr. Whitcombe
Norman Jones
as Sgt. Schenley
John Cater
as Waverly
Barbara Keogh
as Mrs. Frawley
Sean Bury
as Lem Vesalius
James Grout
as Sergeant
Alister Williamson
as 1st Policeman
Thomas Heathcote
as 2nd Policeman
Caroline Munro
as Mrs. Victoria Phibes
David Hutcheson
as Dr. Hedgepath
Ian Marter
as 3rd Policeman
Julian Grant
as 4th Policeman
Dallas Adams
as Police Official
Alan Zipson
as Police Official
Charles Farrell
as Chauffeur
John Franklyn
as Graveyard Attendant
View All

Critic Reviews for The Abominable Dr. Phibes

All Critics (36) | Top Critics (4) | Fresh (31) | Rotten (5)

  • A former art director, Fuest gives the film a preposterously lush, Ken Russell-ish look. Highly enjoyable.

    Oct 19, 2016 | Full Review…
  • High-camp horror with its tongue firmly in its gruesomely deformed cheek, this British oddity features Vincent Price in one of his most memorable roles.

    Nov 14, 2014 | Rating: 4/5

    Wendy Ide

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic
  • Anachronistic period horror musical camp fantasy is a fair description, loaded with comedic gore of the type that packs theatres and drives child psychologists up the walls.

    Mar 26, 2009 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Top Critic
  • Often amusing, occasionally sickening, always impressive for the imaginative Art Deco sets, it's pretty flatly directed.

    Jun 24, 2006 | Full Review…

    Geoff Andrew

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • The humour is camp, the set decorations are art deco gothic and the editing is ropy, but Price's performance suggests that, underlying the madness, there is a real and damaged human being who deserves your support

    Oct 19, 2016 | Full Review…
  • No film can be all bad which opens in a vast Art Deco chamber... with Vincent Price, masked, cloaked and hooded, rising out of the floor at the keyboard of a Wurlitzer organ playing Cole Porter melodies.

    Oct 19, 2016 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Abominable Dr. Phibes

  • Jan 02, 2016
    It's a 70's version of Seven - and all that implies.
    Marcus W Super Reviewer
  • Oct 04, 2013
    A wind-up orchestra nicknamed the "Clockwork Wizards", reenactments of biblical curses and a phonograph in order to talk are only the faintly peculiar oddities in this olive-black, droll hybrid of operatic horror and Grand Guignol comedy. Since his face has been corroded away, Price conveys all of his vengeful emotions and homicidal frivolity with his disembodied, alto voice and his expressively mischievous eyes. Phibes' lair is a masterstroke of geisha design with a rich lavender-and-pink color palette. For a film with such an outrageously shlocky premise, the death scenes are underwhelming and tame with the particularly gruesome details held off-screen like the aftermath of a locust attack. An acid-rigged contraption by Phibes is obviously an influence for the elaborate traps for the 'Saw' franchise. The film achieves the requisite spookiness when Phibes is cavorting in his hideout with his mannequin band. To be fair though, the objective is a fiendishly funny and classy hurrah for Price and as a showcase for the erstwhile cult-classic maven, it more than delivers.
    Cory T Super Reviewer
  • Jun 10, 2013
    The is from the MGM Midnite Movies Double Feature Collection. These movies are always worth getting and make a fine collection. Sheer terror doesn't get much more frightening than this. Scare-master Vincent Price plays a doctor who loses his voice in a car accident, but can still speak by way of an electronic device. He vows revenge on the nine doctors that were responsible for an unsuccessful surgery attempt on his wife, Victoria. He, along with his fiendish but sexy assistant Vulnavia (Virginia North), murder them one by one in such grotesque ways as draining one guy of all his blood, attacking a nurse with a swarm of locusts, and giving an attendee of a costume party a frog mask that becomes so tight around his neck that it snaps his head off. The sheer audacity of these grisly murders, along with Price's meticulous and methodical planning, make for a one-of a-kind scary experience. 4 stars 6-08-13
    Bruce B Super Reviewer
  • Jan 04, 2013
    This film set the scene for many horror movies to come (Saw is one very noteworthy one). I have a rule that any film starring Vincent Price is good, and this film didn't fail that rule. However, this film did fall short of my expectations. Reenacting exodus' plagues was a cool idea, but I think they could have done better with it.
    Horrific R Super Reviewer

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