(Originally published on Cinema Midnight, two Valentines ago)
If you are planning on spending some time this Valentine’s Day watching a movie, whether in the comfort of your own company, or with a sweetheart or friend, I’d like to recommend The Abominable Dr. Phibes for your evening’s selection. In this cult horror classic directed by Robert Fruest, screen legend Vincent Price is the eponymous Dr. Phibes, a reclusive genius who can build incredible musical automatons, play a mean organ, waltz till the cows come home, and still manage to exact his carefully cultivated plan of vengeance, all while wearing great capes.
Assisted by his stylish, silent accomplice Vulnavia (Virginia North), Phibes carries out murderous revenge, styled (if a little loosely) after the Ten Plagues of Egypt, on the various medical professionals he believes botched his wife’s medical treatment and caused her untimely death.
At first, I was going to talk about the film in a straight forward, plot recap and analysis sort of way. But as I was rewatching the movie for my favorite moments to screencap, I realized that at its heart, The Abominable Dr. Phibes isn’t just a farcical horror movie but a love story and Phibes its not-quite-dashing romantic hero. To that end I’ve put together a list of nine reasons I think he would actually make a pretty good Valentine’s date.
9. Even with his busy schedule, he still pauses to appreciate the little things in life
Revenge is serious work. Phibes had been planning his scheme for a long while, from gathering the necessary resources and building specialized equipment, to making sure that he is at the right place at the right time. Amid it all, he still manages to carve out time for some simple pleasures, such as admiring daisies in a field and waltzing with Vulnavia.