Sunday, 16 October 2011

Phibes Lives!

'Dr. Phibes Rises Again' isn't as coherent and fast moving as its predecessor, there aren't nearly enough killings, and it was apparently hell to make, but it's still a lot of fun.

Set three years after the first 'Phibes' film, it concerns the gruesome Doctor's attempts to track down a piece of missing papyrus which shows the location of 'The River Of Life', a mythological Egyptian stretch of water which could bring his dead wife back to him. The papyrus has been stolen by Darrus Beiderbecke (Robert Quarry), who hopes to use it to make him and his fiancee immortal (Beiderbecke is already several hundred years old but stays alive and young-ish thanks to a serum which he is rapidly running out of), so Phibes follows him across the world to kill him and the rest of his archaeological team (who, it must be said, are largely completely innocent of any crime whatsoever - they're just in Phibes way).

The dastardly Doctor has a hell of a time: training an eagle to rip John Thaw to bits - putting a scorpion down someones trousers - sealing poor old drunken chancer Hugh Griffith in a bottle - and, perhaps best of all, sandblasting Gerald Sim into a very clean heap of bones.

In the end, of course, Phibes triumphs, and the way is left open for any number of sequels which, sadly, never materialised.

The best line comes from the wonderful Terry-Thomas, playing a shipping executive furious to have been called into work at the weekend by Inspector Trout of Scotland Yard.

'We're looking for a mad man, Sir'.

'Well, you've bloody well found one! Do you realise this is Saturday afternoon?'

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