October 31, 2010

MACABRE MYSTERY WEEK: PHIBES HALLOWEEN

With the recent release of the Fantomas collection from Kino International, Halloween coming this weekend, and a new Richard Sala book around the corner, It's been macabre mystery mania here at the Spy Vibe lair. I unfortunately missed the debut of the new Sherlock Holmes, but I have been busy enjoying the thrills and intrigue of classic French characters like Fantomas and Judex. Fans familiar with the penny dreadful tradition of serialized pulp fiction will hopefully recognize this rogue's gallery of mystery villains and avengers. If you have made the leap to an eReader, you might want to check out one of the many original Fantomas novels available on-line (many are priced around $1.00). You can even read them on your smart phone with Kindle's free app!


Today on Macabre Mystery Week we have a clip from the stylish Vincent Price cult classic,
The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971). Taking the convention of a masked phantom obsessed with revenge to new heights, the film follows Price through a series of ingenious assassinations that would make Rube Goldberg proud. Phibes is a mad genius, like Dr. Loveless from The Wild Wild West, and each of his deadly schemes involves an elaborate invention, a trap, and self-congratulatory sips of champagne. It's a perfect vehicle for the Gothic Vincent Price! Spy Vibers would especially enjoy the bold colors and stylized set designs, as well as the film's focus on Phibes's gadgetry. There's a great scene in the film that takes place during a masked ball, much like the Judex and Invisible Hands scenes we saw earlier in the week. Phibes arrives at the ball wearing a mask (indeed, his very face is a mask!) and he presents his victim with a stylish frog head- complete with a deadly gear mechanism that squeezes him to his doom. Not as subtle as the poison-tipped umbrellas of the spy world, but a crafty bit of thriller fantasy for October 31st. For Spy Vibers who wish to jump right to the scene, it begins at 2:28. Movie still from Head Injury Theater. Happy Halloween!

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