Paris...at the turn of the century. Inspector Vidocq investigates a series of unexplained murders at a Grand Guignol-type theatre...where the players have suddenly become real-life victims. Based on the story by Edgar Allan Poe.
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In Paris, in the beginning of the Twentieth Century, Cesar Charron owns a theater at the Rue Morgue where he performs the play "Murders in the Rue Morgue" with his wife Madeleine Charron, who has dreadful nightmares. When there are several murders by acid of people connected to Cesar, the prime suspect of Inspector Vidocq would be Cesar's former partner Rene Marot. But Marot murdered Madeleine's mother many years ago and committed suicide immediately after. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
A little different kind of a horror movie based on a story by Edgar Allan Poe and interestingly so. Much have been altered from the original short story, though. To be exact, not only is it based on Poe, but there is also a great deal of Gaston Leroux's 'Phantom of the Opera' mixed in as well. And to emphasize that matter Herbert Lom, who brilliantly did the phantom role in 1962 British Hammer version, handles a part here with a mask hiding his injured face. Jason Robards is also nice to see in this kind of film for a change after having enjoyed his work before in westerns and dramas.
The plot is set in nineteenth century Paris around a theater troop resembling the historic Grand Guignol theater and is similarly specialized on cruel natured horror plays. The certain theatricality follows everywhere the story takes us and stays in the actors even when they are not on stage. The streets are crowded with a carnival and merry-go-rounds. There is a puppet theater, tricks and hypnotism. Even the real murders are executed in most showy ways. The atmosphere has a dreamy, almost surrealistic quality. And the actual dream sequences (What's a Poe film without them?) are beautifully shot and tinted in red tones. Very beautiful and creepy all at the same.
For an American horror production the film has a surprisingly bright European art film look and feel. Instead of using wholly dramatic studio sets we are treated with daylight locations, streets and parks, which allows the movie breath a bit between the expected horrors. This production was a pleasant surprise from Gordon Hessler and American International and a refreshing addition to their line of earlier Poe films directed by Roger Corman.
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