In my upcoming memoir ‘Film Freak’ I talk about the power of B-movies, and two of my favourites have always been ‘The Abominable Dr Phibes’ and ‘Dr Phibes Rises Again’. But there was meant to be a third. According to my pal Graham Humphries, the cult movie poster artist, here’s the synopsis.
1971: The Bride of Dr. Phibes. Proposed to AIP by William Goldstein and James Whiton as a sequel to the first film. Set in the year 1934, it details a battle of wits between Phibes and a strange man named Emil Salveus, a member of a secret Satanic society called the Institute for Psychic Phenomena. We learn that Salveus is actually Lem Vesalius, the son of Joseph Cotten’s The Abominable Dr. Phibes character, Henri Vesalius. Salveus steals Victoria’s body, and Phibes kills the members of the IPP in a quest to recover her.
The group’s leader, Colonel Trenchard, is encased in amber and shattered into a million pieces. This is carried out at the IPP offices, where Phibes gets the names and addresses of the other members. Charles Carruthers is sucked dry by leeches in his bathtub. Orchestra conductor Sir Mastin Mateland finds himself covered with melted butter and eaten by a lobster. Lady Peune has a helium balloon tied to her wheelchair and ascends to the heavens. Arch Vicar Wren has his organs sucked out by a vacuum device. Sir Judah Ido Adibo of the Abyssinian Embassy is left with a clutch of cobras in his bed. Salveus himself falls into an acid pit he’d previously prepared for Phibes.
Phibes recovers and revives Victoria in a scene recalling The Bride of Frankenstein (1935). As Scotland Yard invades Phibes’ manor, the doctor and his bride enter a freezing chamber that will preserve them for a future date. A perplexed Inspector Trout remarks, “Commissioner, we could search hell and damnation, scour the very bowels of this earth….but he’ll never be found. (pause) Perhaps he was never meant to exist”.
Graham has even designed a poster for the film-that-never-was, and you can buy it here.