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Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932) - Blu-ray Review

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Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932)

Murders in the Rue Morgue was a gift to Bela Lugosi.  After being axed from Frankenstein, Universal Pictures’ President Carl Laemmle Jr. offered him the role of the lunatic scientist who abducts women and then injects them with the blood of his pet ape, Erik (performed by Charles Gemora).  Lugosi, not willing to be Frankenstein (as the rumor goes), jumped at the chance to be a SPEAKING horror incarnate once again.  Previously he had been Dracula, but here - with the help of Karl Freund's cinematography and Robert Florey's direction (who was also punted from Frankenstein) - he could disappear again as the frightfully obsessed and unibrowed Dr. Mirakle and get the women screaming and fainting once again.  

"it has its social problems ... but, with evolution weighing heavily throughout its concept, Murders in the Rue Morgue rises above the mire to be iconic horror."


 

With only a young and naive medical student (Leon Ames) standing in his way, Dr. Mirakle walks the streets of Paris in search of young females to become mates with his killer ape.  What started as a sideshow in a circus of freaks is now a full-time obsession.  And, yes, there WILL be blood.  From prostitutes to Peirre Dupin’s fiancée Camille L'Espanaye (Sidney Fox), the gaslit Parisian streets are not safe for anyone walking home again.

And once Mirakle’s ape sets his eyes on you, well, your ticket has been punched.  Visually arresting (thanks to the expressionist style of Freund’s wonderfully smart cinematography), Murders in the Rue Morgue might have ended Lugosi’s contract with Universal - who saw him as nothing but box office poison after this film bombed - but it has gone down as a certified cult classic.

Quite simply, the film is willing to go there with both its philosophy and its violence.  It doesn’t shy away from the graphic nature of murder - as one key sequence shows a dead woman strung up by her heels in a chimney and another displaying a woman being tortured on a tilted cross - nor does it balk at the idea of an ape being aroused by a dark-haired beauty.  I mean, the ape practically mounts his target and goes to town at her bedside.  And, of course, there are constant (and dramatic) uses of shadows throughout.Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932)

Did I happen to mention that this film is Pre-Code Hollywood?  While Universal might have shaved a gnarly 20-minutes from its original run time (due to its graphic nature and its extreme violence), Murders in the Rue Morgue - now available on blu-ray thanks to Scream Factory - remains pretty daring.  Sure, it has its social problems - Native Americans depicted as “redskins” and so on - but, with evolution weighing heavily throughout its concept, Murders in the Rue Morgue rises above the mire to be iconic horror.

4/5 stars

Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932)

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Shout Factory
Available on Blu-ray
- December 17, 2019
Screen Formats: 1.37:1
Subtitles
: English SDH
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Scream Factory could have easily included Murders in the Rue Morgue in their ongoing Universal Horror Collection series, but they chose to isolate the release which, as this one is supremely popular, was a good decision.  While the supplementals are limited to a trailer and a still gallery alone, the cover art makes up for that.

Video:

Murders in the Rue Morgue is presented in 1080p with a crisp transfer that handles the blacks and grays quite well. Shadows, while not too terribly detailed, are thick and atmospheric throughout. Presented with an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, the film looks marvelous and easily beats the poor appearance on television and on home video DVD that has previously dogged it. 

Audio:

The sound is presented in a solid DTS-HD Master Audio English track that is perfect for the film’s low budget demands.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • None

Special Features:

There aren’t a lot of supplemental items, but fans do get a Still Gallery and a Theatrical Trailer.

  • Still Gallery
  • Theatrical Trailer

Blu-ray Rating:

  Movie 4/5 stars
  Video  4/5 stars
  Audio 3/5 stars
  Extras 1/5 stars

Overall Blu-ray Experience

3/5 stars

Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932)

MPAA Rating: Unrated.
Runtime:
61 mins
Director
: Robert Florey
Writer:
Robert Florey
Cast:
Bela Lugosi, Sidney Fox, Leon Ames
Genre
: Horror
Tagline:
Based on a story by Edgar Allan Poe.
Memorable Movie Quote: "My life is consecrated to great experiment. I tell you I will prove your kinship with the ape. Eric's blood will be mixed with the blood of man!"
Theatrical Distributor:
Universal Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
February 21, 1932
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
December 17, 2019.
Synopsis: A mad scientist seeks to mingle human blood with that of an ape, and resorts to kidnapping women for his experiments.

Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932)

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