Abominable Dr. Phibes, The (1971)
A tortured dark soul grieves his lost love who perished at the hands of nine physicians who could not save his beloved wife, so he becomes determined to avenge her death in this perceived wrong-doing. “Dr. Anton Phibes,” a genius in theology and an expert organ player, formulates just punishments to deal with incompetence, using the Old Testament’s theme of the plagues, and engineers their consecutive deaths in kind, inclusive of employing talismans bearing hebraic symbols representing each plague. In quite a ritualistic manner, using a torch, he melts the faces of their various waxen effigies to seal the deed done. With the precision of a veritable master Ninja, and with the aid of the silently succulent Vulnavia, a graceful creature who provides the charmingly seductive misdirection of a Satanic Witch to render victims agog, Phibes moves in for the kill. A wonderfully complimentary relationship. Also of remarkable note, she plays the violin as the doomed meet their demise; and at one point, Phibes applauds the spectacle of a plane swirling down towards destruction after the pilot is attacked by a legion of rats in the cockpit. Personally, I found the rats, as well as the bats in an earlier scene, to be absolutely adorable.
Phibes is a man haunted by his past, which he lives as the present, presiding in his total ballroom environment with automatons to create a wonderfully eerie atmosphere reminiscent of Dr. LaVey’s Den of Iniquity. His throne is seated before a beautifully ornate crimson-phosphorescent organ, which he plays with diabolical flourish into the night, channeling his pain through his music. He vows to avenge her death as well as join her by her side when the task is completed.
This is an aesthetically-beauteous film, replete with Satanic architecture as well as ideology. Those who know will recognize these subtle and sometimes rather blatant displays. Obviously, to those familiar with the life of our Founder, there are several parallels between the Dr. Anton Phibes character and that of Dr. Anton LaVey – they even share the same first name, and certain propensities. It is no wonder this film is recommended on The Church of Satan Video List. Take a perusal – these films are becoming incrementally more available.
[- Draconis Blackthorne]