In 19th Century Paris, the maniacal Dr. Mirakle abducts young women and injects them with ape blood in an attempt to prove ape-human kinship. He constantly meets failure as the abducted women die. Medical student Pierre Dupin discovers what Mirakle is doing too late to prevent the abduction of his girlfriend Camille. Now he desperately tries to enlist the help of the police to get her back.Written by
Gary Jackson <email@example.com>
Watching the above movie, some horror fans have speculated how "Frankenstein" would have looked if Robert Florey had directed it. See more »
During the sequence in which the gorilla carries the girl across the rooftops, a few of the shots make it very clear that he's holding a stiff-necked female mannequin and not a real person. See more »
[Responding to an audience member who has accused him of heresy]
Heresy? Do they still burn men for heresy? Then burn me monsieur, light the fire! Do you think your little candle will outshine the flame of truth?
See more »
At the end of the film, the cast list is shown again with the heading, "A GOOD CAST IS WORTH REPEATING...." See more »
The 2020 UK Eureka Entertainment Blu-ray allows one to play the film with an alternate soundtrack. See more »
I saw "Murders in the Rue Morgue" when I was just a child in the sixties and wasn't impressed. But now that I've seen the uncut original on Universal's Lugosi collection, I believe "Murders" is one of the most under-rated films from the golden age of horror.
Direction by Robert Florey, cinematography by Karl Freund, and art direction by Charles Hall will satisfy the cravings of atmospheric horror fans. And the sources that Florey uses—the Poe story and the silent classic "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari"—dovetail nicely. What seems rather silly in the Poe story (an ape escapes from a sailor to commit senseless murder) is more plausible and horrific when the ape's owner becomes Dr. Mirakle, a mad scientist intent on proving humans and apes are evolutionary cousins. Why else inject ape's blood into nubile young women if not to find a suitable mate for his side show attraction Erik? I was also impressed by the way director/writer Florey zeroed in on one of Poe's themes. The confusion of tongues scene from Poe's story in which people of different nationalities (ear-witnesses to a murder) mistake the ape's language for unintelligible human speech, demonstrates that humans are no different from Erik, another species of savage primate inhabiting the planet. Seeing Dr. Mirakle talk with Erik and translate for the carnival audience doesn't seem as far-fetched today considering the recent research into primate communication.
These thematic elements, together with Lugosi's sinister but surprisingly low-key (for him) performance, and the scene in which Dr. Mirakle injects the street walker with ape blood (Arlene Francis made a good screamer), and in which fiendish assistant Noble Johnson (who made an art of playing such roles) cuts the ropes that bind her Christ-like between crossbeams, releasing her body through a trap door into the river, make this one of the most daring of pre-code horror films.
The print Universal included in its Lugosi collection looks fine, much better that the one I saw in the sixties. And neither the bland performances of the romantic leads, nor the man in the ape costume detracts from the over all effect. The inter-cutting between the actual animal and the costumed double is really not that jarring when you consider what was being done elsewhere in this era.
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