Amongst the Universal horror movies of the 30s Murders in the Rue Morgue is not one of the more highly thought of entries. In fact Michael Brunas, John Brunas and Tom Weaver do quite a savage hatchet job on it in their Book Universal Horrors: The Studio’ Classic Films, 1931-1946. While it’s definitely not a good film, they do overstate their case a little.
Poe’s original story was a mystery with a shock ending, but writer-director Robert Florey has turned it into a horror tale with the horror coming from the fact that we know what’s going on more or less from the start. That was possibly a wise move, but his script is somewhat bungled and the problems were compounded by Universal’s decision to do reshoots and generally tamper with the already almost completed movie.
Bela Lugosi is Dr Mirakle, a scientist working in the field of human evolution who is experimenting with ape-human hybridisation in Paris in 1845. He finances his experiments by displaying his ape in a sideshow. His encounter with a medical student and his girlfriend triggers off a series of unfortunate incidents, and a number of women are found floating in the Seine.
The script doesn’t come together at all, and the movie suffers particularly badly from the comic relief that makes so many American horror movies of that period heavy going. On the other hand it does look sensational. Cine