“Flesh crawls! Blood curdles! Phibes lives” claimed the poster when Vincent Price’s Dr. Anton Phibes made his inevitable return (now we know why there was a phone in his coffin) in Robert Fuest’s Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972). Since the original The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971) had been a hit, it followed there would be a sequel. (In just the same way, it followed that Thursday Horror Picture Show would get around to running it.) The movie is little more than a slightly campier reworking of the first film, but in the guise of a sequel. It picks up three years after the first movie with an announcer (Laugh-In refugee Gary Owens) bringing us up to speed about Phibes and the stories told about him (“all of them unfortunately true”). Phibes returns to life, finds his house has been destroyed, deduces that this was the work of his previously unmentioned arch-nemesis Biederbeck (Robert Quarry) done in an attempt to get the information on the location of the secret temple in Egypt that leads to the river of eternal life. From there, it’s pretty much the same set-up with Phibes engineering creative deaths for his adversaries while this time working toward getting himself and his beloved dead wife to paradise Egyptian style. It mostly works. Oh, granted that Robert Quarry is a pretty lame substitute for Joseph Cotten, but he’s good enough, while Terry-Thomas gets a more amusing role this time. Hugh Griffith fares about as well in both. Peter Cushing, on the other hand, is largely wasted. It’s really Price’s show—and that of director Robert Fuest (who ought to have had a better career)—and there it succeeds more than many things Price made. Plus, there’s a sublime ending—which was denied us for a time when the owners refused to plunk down the cash for the ancillary rights to a certain song, but which now is back. And in case you don’t know what song, I’m not spilling the beans.
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