Newest Reviews:

New Movies -  

The Tunnel


The Tall Man

Mama Africa





Brownian Movement

Last Ride

[Rec]³: Genesis

Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai

Indie Game: The Movie

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Old Movies -

Touki Bouki: The Journey of the Hyena

Drums Along the Mohawk

The Chase

The Heiress

Show People

The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry



Miracle Mile

The Great Flamarion

Dark Habits

Archives -

Recap: 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 , 2005, 2006, 2007 , 2008 , 2009 , 2010 , 2011 , 2012

All reviews alphabetically

All reviews by star rating

All reviews by release year


Screening Log



E-mail me




Murders in the Rue Morgue (Robert Florey, 1932)


A comparatively obscure entry in Universal’s cycle of 1930s horror films, Robert Florey’s Murders in the Rue Morgue is an extremely loose adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s famed short story. Set in Paris during the late 19th century, it stars the inimitable Bela Lugosi in one of his better opportunities for scenery chewing. Here, Lugosi plays the crazed Dr. Mirakle, a sideshow barker and crackpot scientist so adamant about his evolutionary theories that he kidnaps hapless prostitutes and injects them with the blood of apes. This is obviously fantastic stuff, enhanced considerably by Lugosi’s creepy scowls and the gusto with which Mirakle launches into his unusual form of research. The problem with the film is that the villain is easily the most dynamic and compelling thing to be found within. Mirakle’s few scenes are intercut with those involving a would-be detective (appropriate, I suppose, since Poe’s story originated that genre), who is a few steps behind both Mirakle and the audience. Effectively, the mystery has been solved for us at the film’s outset, before a crime has even been committed. As such, this film, which is only an hour long to begin with, becomes a little draggy as it wears on.


The script for Florey’s film certainly deviates from Poe’s short story (in all fairness, it would have to to inspire any suspense for those who have read it) to mixed results, but there are still reasons to seek this oddball adaptation out. Visually, Rue Morgue is quite accomplished. Robert Florey is perhaps not primary remembered as a horror filmmaker, but he does an admirable job of adapting the expressionistic style of German silent cinema to the sound era (having Karl Freund as a cameraman certainly didn’t hurt much either). Memorable cinematographic flourishes abound. A camera is attached to a swing, as a woman sways back and forth, turning an otherwise perfunctory bit of exposition into a highlight. One of the murders is ingeniously staged, giving us a blurred, first-person perspective of a victim’s last moments before death. The xenophobic themes of Poe’s story are enhanced by the presence of Lugosi, whose thick Hungarian accent renders him as much an outsider as the ape. Finally, the last fifteen minutes see the film directly addressing the titular murder that Poe cleverly devised, topping the hero’s somewhat neutered deduction off with a chase sequence that lies just this side of King Kong. In all, Murders in the Rue Morgue disappoints because it gives us too little of Lugosi’s hijinks, but its best scenes are nearly as memorable as anything that Universal produced during the era.



Jeremy Heilman