Rising from his tomb the disfigured Dr Phibes is back to cause havoc once more. After wreaking his revenge on those he held responsible for the death of his wife, Victoria, he now journeys to Egypt to find the fabled river of life in order to revive his spouse. But a certain Darius Beiderbeck is also on the trail and Phibes must once more indulge in ingenious methods of murder in order to achieve his goal.
Despite its rather final finale The Abominable Dr Phibes was successful enough to warrant a sequel a mere 12 months later. Opening with a brief recapping of events from the previous film and with a voiceover that tweaks its climax to revive Dr Phibes and his silent assistant Vulnavia, Dr Phibes Rises Again is a tale in the same vein, in other words a camp comic horror film with numerous novel deaths. Continuing the Egyptian motif that dominated the modus operandi of Phibes in the first film this fun sequel sees him journeying to the land of the Pharaohs, where he has a secret and stylish base of operations, in an attempt to bring his wife back to life.
Vincent Price once again steals the show as Phibes who, when not inventively dispatching his victims delivers lovelorn grandiose soliloquies to his dead wife, plays his organ and dances with the mute Vulnavia. This killer is used to the finer things in life as reflected in the films impressive production values which are an improvement on the previous instalment. The wonderful art deco sets and the Egyptian motifs that adorn Phibes' opulent desert lair give the film a lavish period feel.
As in The Abominable Dr Phibes there are a host of familiar character actors on hand to flesh out the supporting roles. Terry-Thomas makes a return, Peter Cushing turns up for a blink-and-you'll-miss-it performance and Beryl Reid is on hand to deliver a scene-stealing cameo. Both Peter Jeffrey and John Cater reprise their roles as the bickering cop duo on the case and fans of the first film will also be pleased to see the return of the Doctor's mechanical band The Clockwork Wizards, who resemble a convention of Frank Sidebottom impersonators.
Dr Phibes Rises Again is a superior sequel, playing up the camp humorous tone with Vincent Price giving a witty performance in the title role complemented by stylish sets, a fast moving script and some deliciously novel murders. A deliberately open-ended finale, complete with Phibes singing Somewhere Over The Rainbow, was to have led into a third film with proposed script ideas involving Phibes battling the Nazis to retain the secret of immortality. Unfortunately there were no more big screen outings for the unique Dr Phibes, but at least fans have this film and its prequel to savour.