Dr. Anton Phibes, a famous concert organist and expert in theology and music, is thought to have been killed in a car crash in Switzerland in 1921, while racing home upon hearing of the death of his beloved wife, Victoria, during surgery. Phibes survived the crash, but he was horribly scarred and left unable to speak. He remakes his face with prostheticsand uses his knowledge of acoustics to regain his voice. Resurfacing secretly in London in 1925, Phibes believes that his wife was a victim of incompetence on the part of the doctors, and he begins elaborate plans to kill those who he believes are guilty for her death.
Aided in his quest for vengeance by his beautiful and silent female assistant Vulnavia, Phibes uses the ten plagues of Egypt as his inspiration, wearing an amulet with Hebrew letters corresponding with each plague as he conducts the murders.
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