Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Best Movies Ever Made: The Abominable Dr. Phibes

First of all, its one of the greatest movie titles of all time. It’s right up there with At Midnight I Will Take your Soul (you know when to expect him), Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song (that’s five s’s in “badass”) and Purple People Eater (you know what he looks like, stay away from him.)

The title tells you everything you need to know about this guy. He’s bad and he’s a doctor so he’s smart. Oh, also he’s pissed. His wife was killed in a car accident. But he blames the death on the 9 doctors who tried to save her life.

9 killed her
9 shall die
9 eternities in doom!

Also, he’s completely batshit insane. Watch the trailer here.

Doesn’t it look like the greatest thing ever? Well, I’m here to tell you that… it is! Its funny, creepy, and ultra weird. And it has a lot of self awareness and is, in some ways, parodying a lot of the early 70’s psychedelia. But it is also obviously a product of it. This movie could not have been made at any other time in history. And it is beautiful. Perfect art deco sets and crazy ass outfits. Watch the first 10 minutes of the movie here:

In fact the whole movie is on youtube. But don’t watch it like that. Watch the first 10 minutes there, fall in love with it, then go rent it. Or just buy it. You’ll end up buying it anyway.

Here is an imagined conversation between Dr. Phibes and his psychiatrist.

“I must have my revenge on the 9 that killed her. 9 killed her. 9 shall die. 9 eternities in doom!”
“Well, they actually tried to save her life.”
“No! 9 killed her. 9 shall die. 9 eternities in doom. But first I have some preparations to make. I have to make wax replicas of each doctor which I will melt with a blowtorch as I check them off the list. I must also construct a massive art deco set with a backdrop depicting a party so that I may dance around believing that I am at such an event. I must also have a huge pink organ that rises out of the ground. And a full band of emotionless robots that will play songs for me. I will call them Dr. Phibes’ The Clockwork Wizards.”

“Why would you call them that?”
“Because they are mine. I must have all this done ere vengeance begins. And then, since I have lost the ability to speak, I will carry a phonograph with me that I connect to my neck which will allow me to speak. I will use it to speak to the spirit of my dead wife, to whom I will also have built a very creepy altar. ”

“Isn’t that a bit excessive?”
“Have you seen her pictures? She’s a total babe. Or was. Until 9 killed her. 9 shall die. 9 eternities in doom.”
“Ok, wouldn’t it be more constructive---“
“Oh I almost forgot. I will use, as my inspiration, the 10 bibilical plagues. For no particular reason. So I will kill one guy with bees, one guy with rats, one guy with bats, one guy with a frog mask that slowly tightens—“

“Bats aren’t really that deadly.”
“One guy with locusts, one guy, check this one out, I will slowly drain the blood out of his body while my assistant plays a completely white violin.”
“You have an assistant?”
“Yes, Vulnavia. She’s a total babe as well.”

“Is that her real name?”
“No that’s just what I call her.”
“Wouldn’t you call someone Vulnavia if they let you?”
“Fair enough.”
“Oh and I will use my neck phonograph thing to make taunting crank calls to the doctors responsible---“
“What purpose could that serve?”
“9 killed her. 9 shall die. 9 eterni---“
“Oh look at the time.”

Just watch the movie right now. It has a guy from Citizen Kane in it! Really, it does! And its as good as Citizen Kane. Really, it is!

Everyone in the movie seems to be having a blast. This is Vincent Price's best role, and he's made like 300 movies. "But a lot of his movies suck", you say. "How many movies have you made?", I retort. You slink away, ashamed. He really is pitch perfect in this. You can see Vulnavia laughing at Vincent Price in the first sequence. Why didn’t they do another take of that scene? Cuz its fucking art, man. And it has the most beautifully twisted use of Somewhere Over the Rainbow ever.

Sidenote: those shitty awful Saw movies stole a bunch of ideas from Dr. Phibes’ twisted and magical brain.


Chris said...

Words fail me, gentleman.

Vivek said...

Was the robot band a 9 piece band? It should have been. And .. how does one use 10 plagues on 9 people? I said good day sir.

Kumail Ali said...

Why don't you watch it and find out?

Brian said...

The strongest tag line I've ever heard for a movie:

"Probably the most terrifying motion picture you'll ever see."

I imagine the announcer wanted to say either "Listen, I haven't done a whole lot of research, but we think this is pretty sweet," or they knew a few films that were more terrifying, but didn't want to take up time listing them, as to hope that no one would see those movies.

Nora Rocket said...

I loved the movie, but I think I love the poster more.

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