DR PHIBES RISES AGAIN
Certainly, many of the fans of the series hold Dr Phibes Rises Again as being up there alongside if not better than the original. To cast a contrary note, it appears caught between the two camps that all sequels do in trying to maintain the same elements that made the original a success while heading off in its own directions. The results appear more haphazard and ultimately lack the surefooted sense of droll humour that characterised the original. The original and its revenge motif was perfectly self-contained as a story, this feels much more strained trying to copy it. The set-up this time Vincent Price employing his novelty deaths to kill the members of a rival archaeological expedition is contrived. It is not exactly a realist film but the improbability of some of the set-ups that Vincent Price has carted an entire clockwork army, concertina beds and the wherewithal to rig somebodys car into a deathtrap with him into the desert does seem ever so slightly incredible.
The film brings back Peter Jeffrey as Inspector Trout and several other actors from the first film Hugh Griffith, Terry-Thomas in different roles, as well as a small cameo from Peter Cushing as the captain of the ship. The film also gives Dr Phibes a nemesis in Biederbeck, played by Robert Quarry who had become a hot genre name following his success as the title character in Count Yorga, Vampire (1970). Alas, the film never pits the two off against one another right until the end and the potential of the confrontation is largely missed. It should have been a confrontation on the order of James Bond or Batman facing off against a supervillain.
Vincent Price is still wonderful with that marvelously contorted job he does with eyes and hands. However, the film makes a mistake in giving him dialogue he sometimes inconsistently speaking with the speaker phone he did in the original, mostly not. The voice-overs also destroy the witty sophistication that came in the first films silent pantomimes. Some of the killings remain amusing the pickling of Hugh Griffiths victim in a giant gin bottle, another victim concertinaed up in his bed, a victim drowned in sand in his own car and Biederbecks servant being dispatched by a compressed-air snake substituted for a telephone receiver and the film is entertaining enough in its own right.
A third Dr Phibes film was touted for a time but never emerged. In the 1980s, both director George A. Romero and actor Paul Clemens each tried to get their own Phibes sequel off the ground without success.
Robert Fuest went onto make a couple of other dull genre films, The Final Programme/The Last Days of Man on Earth (1974), The Devils Rain (1975) and an episode of the obscure horror anthology Three Dangerous Ladies (1977), before entirely vanishing from cinema screens into tv.
Full film available online here:-