Monday, August 10, 2009
The Abominable Dr. Phibes
I enjoyed screening the Abominable Dr. Phibes this weekend with my 11-yr-old, who had not yet had the pleasure of viewing this subversive and self-deprecating Price vehicle. I believe I first saw it when I was 11 or so, most likely on a weekly show called "Creature Feature" (hosted by "Doctor Paul Bearer"), which aired every Saturday afternoon, right after "Little Rascals" and the "Tarzan Matinee", which I usually watched, too. Some other gems from Creature Feature during that era were Attack of the Giant Leeches and, of course, The Raven.
What surprised me at that age about Dr. Phibes was that I found myself on the side of the villain! Dr. Phibes has lost his wife during an operation performed by a group of world-famous surgeons, and he seeks his revenge, in biblical proportions. While the viewer understands the failed surgeons weren't necessarily malicious or even inept, none can deny that Phibes is due his pound of flesh, and take morbid pleasure in watching him go about his bloody business. With bees, bats, and constricting frog masks, no less. This reminded me of Jim's post on Good vs Evil last month. Was Phibes "Evil"? Could he, in some sense at least, even be considered "Lawful Good"? If you root for Phibes' continued success as he traps and kills victim after victim, are you evil as well? Or looking for justice?
Thankfully, the film wastes no time moralizing, and simply follows events to their (un)natural conclusion.
This week, I suspect I'll find myself plotting out 10 creative, devious, and icky new ways to kill the player characters in my Megadungeon. They're good enough PCs, not necessarily inept or malicious, but I don't think anyone can deny that, as a hard-working DM, I'm due my pound of flesh...;)