The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971)



Critic 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.

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
John Franklyn
as Graveyard Attendant
View All

Critic Reviews for The Abominable Dr. Phibes

All Critics (41) | Top Critics (8)

Mr. Fuest makes very tolerable use of bis means: added to which he has the overwhelming advantage of Vincent Price as the Abominable Doctor.

May 14, 2020 | Full Review…

It has, incidentally, a really well thought out revenge plot, directed by Robert Fuest with tons more style and assurance than he brought to Wuthering Heights.

May 14, 2020 | Full Review…

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

October 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.

November 14, 2014 | Rating: 4/5
Top Critic

Fuest plays up the 1930s-by-way-of-the-1970s set design, but any atmosphere gets lost in scene after scene that's lighted like a TV show.

October 22, 2013 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

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.

March 26, 2009 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Abominable Dr. Phibes

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 Taylor
Cory Taylor

Super Reviewer


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 Bruce
Bruce Bruce

Super Reviewer


The movie plays kind of like a campy version of Seven, except British. And John Doe is played by Vincent Price, whose playing the titular character somewhere between Dr. Evil and The Phantom of the Opera. Totally bonkers and totally worth a watch.

Ken Stachnik
Ken Stachnik

Super Reviewer

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