Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Abominable Dr Phibes

1971, UK/USA, directed by Robert Fuest

Well outside my usual viewing parameters -- camp 1970s horror is an almost undiscovered country for me, though the memory banks were stirred by vague evocations of late-night, somewhat illicit, adolescent viewings of films along these general lines on TV. I suspect, though, that I mostly dipped in and out of whatever was playing. Here, the horror itself is only rarely horrific, and the whole thing is played with a smirk never far away, particularly when it comes to the policemen charged with investigating a series of outlandish murders. As much as it's nice to have actors like Vincent Price and Joseph Cotten on hand, the real fun here is in the spectacular sets and Robert Fuest's zesty orchestration -- at times, it's like watching a madcap Madame Tussaud's diorama come to life.

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