Plot: What’s it about?
After a chain of events has woke him from a mystical slumber, Dr. Anton Phibes (Vincent Price) discovers his life has gone into shambles while he slept. His home has been wrecked and above all else, his sacred scrolls have been taken and without those, he cannot find the Pharaoh’s Tomb and that means bad news. So in his ever vigilant trek to bring his wife back from the dead, Dr. Phibes learns who took his scrolls, packs up his assistant Vulnavia (Valli Kemp) as well as his wife’s corpse, and heads off to track them down. But as he knocks off the team of people who took his scrolls, he is being tracked himself and that could spell disaster for his plans. So as he follows the path to his scrolls and his wife’s return to life, Dr. Phibes is followed by someone who seeks to shut him down, but that won’t be an easy task. Will Dr. Phibes be able to finally bring back his wife, or will he end up in suspended animation all over again?
I am very pleased to see MGM release a series of Midnight Movies and of course, among the first wave of titles are the Dr. Phibes flicks. I like The Abominable Dr. Phibes a lot, but when push comes to shove, I have to admit, Dr. Phibes Rises Again is my personal choice of the two. As such, I knew I had to give this disc a spin and report on it here. I haven’t seen this film for a spell, but I was just as taken with it, which I think is a real compliment to the picture. Of course, this film is loaded with camp elements and is not to be taken in serious fashion, so don’t expect a bone chilling experience from this release. But Vincent Price is dead on here and with some of his lines, he is allowed to shine in all of his eerie comedic glory, which is a real pleasure to watch. This is by no means your typical B movie though, as this is much better on all levels and in the end, I feel this movie is not in the same league as most films of this ilk. This disc is highly recommended to fans, while others will want to rent first and ask questions later.
Of course, this film belongs to Vincent Price, who brings Dr. Phibes back in fine form. As usual, Price is very creepy and eerie, but he also brings a certain comical nature to the role, which helps the film a lot. He does take the role in a little different direction than the first film at times, but it all works out in the end and I think Price is superb here. I do wish we could have seen Price back for the third time as Dr. Phibes, but I suppose some ideas were never meant to be. But even with two turns in the part, Price leaves a lasting impression and really drives home the character well. I wouldn’t say his work here is his best nor my personal favorite choice, but I do think this is one of his more memorable performances. Other films with Price include The Abominable Dr. Phibes, The Last Man On Earth, Tales of Terror, The Ten Commandments, House of Wax, and House On Haunted Hill. The rest of the cast includes Terry-Thomas (Danger: Diabolik, The Mouse on The Moon), Robert Quarry (Rollercoaster, The Return of Count Yorga), former Miss Australia Valli Kemp, and Peter Cushing (Star Wars, The Satanic Rites of Dracula).
Video: How does it look?
Dr. Phibes Rises Again is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. This presentation is an improvement over previous editions, but some problems still surface at times. There is some debris and grain present here, but not as much as you’d expect, which was a nice surprise indeed. I do think the darker scenes look too murky and not very defined, which lower the impact of those moments. But the well lit sequences look fantastic and aside from a few exceptions, could pass for a pretty recent motion picture. So we have a little variance here, but in the end, I think this is a very solid visual transfer.
Audio: How does it sound?
The included mono track doesn’t allow for much dynamic presence, but then again, this movie seems like it should be mono, so all is well in the end. The very cool music is well taken care of here, which means it sounds good, but not as rich as a full surround track would allow. No real issues with the sound effects, as they seem limited most of the time, but that isn’t a factor since this material doesn’t need them to be powerful often. The dialogue is clean and crisp at all times here, with no serious issues to discuss in the end. I suppose this could have been a little better, but given the age of this flick, I think this is just fine indeed. This disc also includes mono tracks and subtitles in Spanish & French, in case you’ll need them.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes the film’s theatrical trailer.