Dr. Phibes Rises Again: An Exclusive with William Goldstein
1. How has Phibes changed with time?
Dr. Phibes has expanded into two Dr. Phibes Book Series and evolved from his 19th Century (and still Victorian) London Town into an AI-driven 21st Century Gotham. In our brand new Dr. Phibes book and series; “DR. PHIBES THE ANDROBOTS – BOOK I OF : THE DR. PHIBES MANIFEST”, now on Amazon, Phibes returns with a new vigor from his seeming forty year self-entombment and applies himself to fulfill his sworn ‘forever-mission’: to revivify his beloved and long-deceased wife, Victoria Regina Phibes, and bring her back to Life. All would-be obstructors beware, or pay the consequence and find themselves to be next in line in a newly devised, state-of-the-art ‘Death Geometry’.
2. What did you think about the films?
I think the studio did a phantastic job. Very scary. Very classy. Right from the opener, even before the credits, seeing Vincent Price up on the big screen, I knew immediately that A.I.P. had cast the ultimate Dr. Phibes.
3. Did you keep contact with Vincent Price?
Yes. We first heard from Vincent when he had just read the script, saying how much he enjoyed the story and we continued to communicate over several more such conversations. A very kind gentleman, and of course he was the perfect Dr. Phibes.
4. They had a great cast, Joseph Cotton, Terry-Thomas, it’s not normally a cast you associate with a horror film.
That’s true and a good question. Again, I think American International Pictures (A.I.P.) did a wonderful casting job, especially with Joseph Cotton playing perfectly opposite Vincent Price and their introduction of Virginia North as Phibes mute assistant Vulnavia was immaculate. Great actors like to work with a great script. It all really came together for a perfect fit all the way around.
5. How did the idea come to life?
The idea of Dr. Phibes came to me in a series of dreams that lasted over a week’s worth of nights. I wrote them all down after the final night and then read it straight through. The words seemed to flow and form such a clear picture – and that was when it struck me that Phibes had become real. I then quickly contacted a close friend of mine who had moved to Hollywood and had made some inroads there to see if he wanted to team up and run with me on this movie idea. That’s when James Whiton and I became writing partners and as they say, the rest is history.
6. In many ways Dr. Phibes is a sympathetic character, how did you balance the cruel avenger with the tenderness he feels for Victoria?
Dr. Phibes is an original made from whole cloth and at his center core lives a love story that became trapped inside a tragic horror story. Yet for Dr. Phibes, Hope springs eternal, and Love conquers all and reaches beyond the veil. Think the Taj Mahal or Mirabeau Bridge. He has sworn to fulfill his ‘forever-mission’ and to do whatever it takes by whatever means necessary, to bring his dearly-departed bride back from the Great Beyond and be reunited with her for eternity and forever.
7. Who were some of the authors who inspired you?
From early on, Honore de Balzac and Hugh Lofting were and are my literary heroes. Sir John Desmond Patrick Keegan’s writing is well worth long reading sessions. More recently I have picked up on Lee Child and his Jack Reacher series and like Walter Mosley’s work as well.
8. Do you think there is a chance that Phibes might make to the screen again?
Yes, absolutely I do. Once we reach full financing, I believe there is a 100% chance that Phibes III will be playing soon in a theater near you. Hopefully, that will happen in time for the 50th Anniversary of the first Phibes film: ‘The Abominable Dr. Phibes’ in May 2021.
9. Who are some of your favorite horror authors?
Edgar Allen Poe is one, and of course Bram Stoker and Mary Shelley. H.P. Lovecraft.
10. Are you working on another Phibes?
Yes, I am fully engaged in several Phibes projects right now, including our just newly released Dr. Phibes The Androbots novel, and I have teamed up with my youngest son, Damon, on all of them. In fact, it’s Goldstein & Goldstein on the writing credits of the finished script for our eagerly anticipated Phibes III film project ‘Forever Phibes’ with Malcolm McDowell attached and several other A-List names, and then we have also recently begun penning the (as yet untitled) second book in The Dr. Phibes Manifest Series – so stay tuned, there’s lots more Dr. Phibes on the way!