Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932)

Genres - Mystery  |   Sub-Genres - Detective Film  |   Release Date - Feb 21, 1932 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 75 min.  |   Countries - France , United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Patrick Legare

Bela Lugosi in the prime of his horror career delivers a sublimely evil performance that carries this effective thriller released by Universal in the wake of their horror success of Frankenstein and Dracula. Based on a tale by Edgar Allen Poe, Murders in the Rue Morgue strikes a similar feel to some of Tod Browning's pictures: dark and rather sadistic. Lugosi's Dr. Mirakle is an evil doctor whose prize sideshow attraction is a killer gorilla whose blood he wants to mix with that of a woman (Sidney Fox) for some bizarre reason. While Lugosi takes the role to its horrifying limits, his co-stars pale by comparison playing rote characters in corny performances. Leon Waycoff (aka Leon Ames) is the hero, a medical student whose girlfriend (Fox) is abducted by the runaway ape in an exciting rooftop climax. The film's stronger elements -- a woman's death in Mirakle's lab, another who is murdered and left stuffed in a chimney -- come across even more powerfully thanks to the fine cinematography of the masterful Karl Freund (Metropolis). In one particularly noteworthy shot, the sound of a woman's screams are intercut with footage of shocked villagers. Director Robert Florey does a solid job of keeping the action moving and the audience on its toes despite a script that does have its occasional lame points. One notable example of this is when Waycoff's friend becomes overly upset that his pal won't eat. John Huston received credit on the film for adding dialogue.