Dr. Anton Phibes’ Abominably Erudite, Musically Malignant, Cursedly Clever Halloween Horror Movie Quiz

Dennis Cozzalio of the Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule blog has posted another of his famous movie quizes, and as always, I’m excited to provide my answers. Previous installments answering questions from Professor Hubert Farnsworth, David Huxley, Professor Fate, Professor Russell Johnson, Dr. Smith, Professor Peabody, Professor Severus Snape, and Professor Ed Avery, are also available… But now, here are my answers to the sinister Dr. Phibes:

1) Favorite Vincent Price/American International Pictures release.

It is perhaps dreadfully uncool to pick the film the entire quiz is named after, but my pick is honestly The Abominable Dr. Phibes. It’s a fine film by itself, but it’s also much more influential than most of its contemporaries, influencing the likes of Seven and even Saw (not to mention the franchise that spawned and the whole torture porn sub-genre).

2) What horror classic (or non-classic) that has not yet been remade would you like to see upgraded for modern audiences?

This is quite a difficult question. For one thing, a lot of movies that get remade have no real need of a remake – they’re perfect the way they are. So what does need a remake? Well, there are some movies, no matter how great they are, that are just products of a different time, and could use some updating. There are some movies that just don’t have enough of a budget or production value, and they could also benefit from a remake. Finally, there are movies that have a really neat premise that fall down when it comes to execution. That last one is especially difficult because they’re not normally good or beloved, and thus are unlikely to be greenlit by a studio exec. But for the purposes of this question, there are no studios or commercial concerns, so what movie to pick? Well, when it comes to classics, the obvious choice would be Creature from the Black Lagoon – the only of the old Universal monsters that hasn’t been updated and redone ad nauseum. The reason for the Gill-Creature’s lack of remake probably has less to do with the popularity of the character than to the fact that it was one of the few Universal creature features that was totally original. Dracula, Frankenstein, and the Mummy (which is mildly arguable, but I’m including it anyway) are so popular because the characters are in the public domain (Universal owns some aspects of the appearance of the various monsters, but that is easily avoided because the characters themselves are not). Because of this, characters like Dracula can be continually reinterpreted and reinvented for new audiences and generations. Indeed, Dracula has racked up over 200 appearances in film – one of the most portrayed fictional characters in all of cinema. But the Gill monster? It will never be as popular because Universal had so tightly controlled the copyright… at least, not until the film enters the public domain. On the other hand, maybe it’s a silly movie that wouldn’t survive a reinvention. But we won’t know unless we get someone talented to give it a shot, and it’s probably worth trying.

3) Jonathan Frid or Thayer David?

Well, I’ve never been much of a Dark Shadows kinda guy, so I’m afraid I can’t really give a good answer for this, except to say: Jonathan Frid. Because I feel like it.

4) Name the one horror movie you need to see that has so far eluded you.

There are a lot of questions like this in these quizzes, and my answers tend to fall on a particular era of film: Silent Films. In keeping with that The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is probably the one classic horror film that has so far eluded me. Along with several hundred others, but I keep thinking to myself: Self, you should really become more acquainted with the Silent Era. And then I promptly ignore that impulse. Indeed, for this year’s 6 Weeks of Halloween marathon, I had originally intended to devote a week to silent films (including Caligari), but there’s only one week left, and I really want to watch me some slasher films. But I will get to silent horror at some point. Oh yes.

5) Favorite film director most closely associated with the horror genre.

A truly difficult and tricky question. Does someone like David Cronenberg count? He spent the first decade or so of his career putting out solid or even great horror films, but he has since moved on to other genres (mostly). How about John Carpenter? He’s made two of my favorite movies of all time (Halloween and The Thing), but he’s also made some stinkers and he hasn’t even made a decent movie in over 15 years (though I have yet to see The Ward). Maybe it’s just that I’m bad at picking favorites. Names are just coming to me. Mario Bava. Don Coscarelli. Alfred Hitchcock (does he count?) Sam Raimi. Wes Craven. Jeeze, we could be here for a while. I’ll stop now.

6) Ingrid Pitt or Barbara Steele?

Hey, I’m actually mildly familiar with these two. Mildly. I’ll go with Ingrid Pitt, because I’ve seen her in more things, but Barbara Steele is no slouch…

7) Favorite 50’s sci-fi/horror creature.

A tough one. The Gill Creature kinda qualifies (is that really sci-fi?), but in the interest of variety, I’ll go with The Blob. There’s something just so great about the inhuman, unfeeling nature of the blob.

8) Favorite/best sequel to an established horror classic.

Aliens is the first to come to mind, but while it’s quite a tense affair, I don’t know that I would call that a horror film (though the Alien certainly was) so much as an action/adventure/thriller. The other obvious choice is Bride of Frankenstein, a film many believe is better than the original (though I’m not with them on that, it’s still among the best sequels). And while I wouldn’t call anything in the Friday the 13th series “classic”, I do have an inordinate fondness for Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI. Yeah, did I say I have trouble picking favorites? Because I do. Oh, and Phantasm II. And definitely Evil Dead II. Ok, I’ll stop now.

9) Name a sequel in a horror series which clearly signaled that the once-vital franchise had run out of gas.

This one’s really hard, because there are so many horror series, all of which run out of gas from time to time, only to be revitalized (even if only for a short time). There are probably a bunch of Dracula movies that would fit that mold. But what the hell, I’ll just say A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, which just stopped the series in its tracks (not that it was soaring so high at that point, but still) and I don’t think it ever really recovered…

10) John Carradine or Lon Chaney Jr.?

These two actors have over 500 films to their credit. Yikes. I’ll go with Lon Chaney Jr., for The Wolf Man alone.

11) What was the last horror movie you saw in a theater? On DVD or Blu-ray?

Last horror movie I saw in the theater was Paranormal Activity 3 (I was surprised that the series had not worn out it’s welcome – I generally enjoyed it). On DVD, it was Lucio Fulci’s goretastic The Beyond (fun, but not much to it other than gore, which I will grant, is pretty awesome in that movie). On Blu-Ray, it was Dylan Dog: Dead of Night, a mildly diverting film that was enjoyable enough, though again, nothing special. On Netflix Streaming, it was The Sentinel, a decent 70s haunted house film that is nevertheless kinda sloppy and disjointed and very weird. Interesting, but nothing to go crazy about.

12) Best foreign-language fiend/monster.

The most obvious answer would be Godzilla, though I’ve never been a particularly huge fan of those movies. The “fiend” part of the question does indeed open this up to probably too broad of a category, so I’ll just leave it at Godzilla.

13) Favorite Mario Bava movie.

Oh, this is a difficult one, but after a microsecond of thought, I’ll go with Blood and Black Lace. Impeccable.

Masked Killer
Blood and Black Lace

14) Favorite horror actor and actress.

Oh, this is an easy one, right? Cause there aren’t that many actors or actresses that do a lot of horror films, right? RIGHT? Ok, fine, I’ll go Boris Karloff for the actor, and Jamie Lee Curtis for the actress.

15) Name a great horror director’s least effective movie.

John Carpenter’s Vampires and Ghosts of Mars. Another question that could probably have a thousand answers, unfortunately.

16) Grayson Hall or Joan Bennett?

Again with the Dark Shadows? I decline to answer. Ok, fine, Joan Bennett. There. You happy now?

17) When did you realize that you were a fan of the horror genre? And if you’re not, when did you realize you weren’t?

When I was in fifth grade, I hated horror films. Or, at least, I was terrified of them and avoided them at all costs. Then, one halloween, I spent the night at a friend’s house, and we watched Halloween. Nothing like peer pressure to get you to watch something you wouldn’t normally watch. And I was shocked to realize that I loved the movie. I was hooked. I started watching all the 80s slashers that came on TV (through my fingers at first, then when I realized that it wasn’t that bad, I really started to eat up horror films), and now I watch nothing but horror movies for the six weeks leading up to Halloween every year. Not to mention all the other horror films I watch throughout the year.

18) Favorite Bert I. Gordon (B.I.G.) movie.

I can’t say as though I’ve seen a lot of his movies, but Empire of the Ants comes to mind.

19) Name an obscure horror favorite that you wish more people knew about.

This is a hard one because “obscure” can be a relative term. What constitutes obscure for a horror fanatic? It’s difficult, because horror fanatics watch a lot of obscure movies just for the hell of it. But my pick will be Mute Witness, a movie that I rarely hear about, even in horror film circles. I won’t ruin it by talking too much about it, but it’s about a mute woman who witnesses a murder and then has to escape the clutches of the murderers, even though she’s in a remote area and can’t speak.

20) The Human Centipede– yes or no?

Yes. Look, it’s a disgusting concept, but I have to admit that the first film is reasonably well made and even restrained. It was nowhere near as bad as I feared. On the other hand, the sequel is pretty foul. But even that is well shot and there’s something interesting about what he chose to do in that movie. These are films I would probably never recommend to anyone, but if you’re inclined to watch disgusting movies, these are fine.

21) And while we’re in the neighborhood, is there a horror film you can think of that you felt “went too far”?

The aforementioned IMDb – The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence is certainly a candidate, but the one that came to mind after that was Martyrs, a film I have a lot of respect for, but which also made me wonder what the hell I was doing watching this thing.

22) Name a film that is technically outside the horror genre that you might still feel comfortable describing as a horror film.

Genres are inherently fuzzy. That’s part of their charm! That being said, a couple examples would be Blue Velvet and The Silence of the Lambs and maybe even Se7en. Did I mention that I’m bad at picking just one film?

23) Lara Parker or Kathryn Leigh Scott?

Alright, Jesus, I’ll watch Dark Shadows, ok? Just stop giving me these choices!

24) If you’re a horror fan, at some point in your past your dad, grandmother, teacher or some other disgusted figure of authority probably wagged her/his finger at you and said, “Why do you insist on reading/watching all this morbid monster/horror junk?” How did you reply? And if that reply fell short somehow, how would you have liked to have replied?

I haven’t been around too much of this sort of attitude, so I don’t really have an answer prepared, but I’m sure I could come up with something about the nature of fear or something. And quite frankly, anyone who’s so lacking in empathy that they can’t understand why someone would *gasp* like something different than them, is probably not worth responding to…

25) Name the critic or Web site you most enjoy reading on the subject of the horror genre.

Brian Collins and his amazing Horror Movie a Day. I don’t know how he does it.

26) Most frightening image you’ve ever taken away from a horror movie.

A difficult one, as the most frightening stuff, for me, is the stuff that’s not shown. But just to answer the question, I’ll say Phantasm has quite a few shots that haunt me…

27) Your favorite memory associated with watching a horror movie.

Well, I’ve already mentioned my first viewing of Halloween, so I’ll call out my first viewing of Paranormal Activity. Before it got hyped to high heaven, it was just a small film, struggling to get a release. The filmmakers managed to wrangle some midnight screenings (and later used footage of the crowds in their trailer), one of which I got to attend. It was a big and fun crowd, there were lots of scares, and as a midnight showing, I didn’t get home until around 2:30. And if you’ve ever seen the movie, you know that all the bad things that happen… happen at around that time. Let’s just say that I stayed up for a while after that.

28) What would you say is the most important/significant horror movie of the past 20 years (1992-2012)? Why?

Two films come to mind. Scream‘s postmodern approach made it ok to make horror movies again. I know a lot of people don’t like it or love it, but it is an important film, if only for the influence it’s had on the genre. The other film would be The Blair Witch Project. It wasn’t the first found footage, mock-documentary film (nor was it even the only one made that year!), but I think it might be the most effective one, and given the strength of the format over the past decade or so, I think that deserves a callout.

29) Favorite Dr. Phibes curse (from either film).

“Death of the first born” from The Abominable Dr. Phibes. Ironically, an quasi-unsuccessful curse, as well. But it was elaborate and horrifying, moreso than most of the others.

I want to play a game
The Abominable Dr. Phibes

30) You are programming an all-night Halloween horror-thon for your favorite old movie palace. What five movies make up your schedule?

Well, at least you didn’t say I could only pick one movie.

Are you sure I can’t pick 10 movie movies? Or maybe 20? This is hard, but I’ll leave it at those 5, as I could be here all night tweaking the list.

And there you have it, another great quiz. I’m already looking forward to the next one!