31 Days of Horror: Murders in the Rue Morgue

Very loosely based on Edgar Allen Poe's short story - which is credited as being the first detective story. This 1932 film is more horror than a detective murder mystery.

Bela Lugosi stars as a mad scientist named Dr. Mirakle who is trying to prove the theory of evolution by mating a beautiful young virgin girl with his circus ape Erik. He does this by kidnapping various women and injecting the ape's blood into them - to see if they are compatible. The women all die but all is not lost. Amateur detective Leon Ames and his girlfriend Sidney Fox happen to visit the carnival where Lugosi and his monkey work. Lugosi believes that his ape is in love with Sidney Fox and sends his man servant to follow her so he can find out where she lives - and hopefully get his monkey laid. Meanwhile Ames is investigating the death of a prostitute who was found in the river. After some CSI like blood work - Ames is getting closer to solving the murders and catching Lugosi.

Those who have read Poe's original story will notice that the movie deviates quite a bit as most Hollywood adaptations do. It was just a simple murder mystery with one heck of a twist ending. But despite this the movie is great example of what Pre-Code horror movies were like. Hinted bestiality, prostitutes and grisly murders make for a pretty entertaining film. Bela Lugosi is excellent as the mad scientist. And with cinematography from Karl Freund (The Mummy, Mad Love) - the film has a cool German expressionistic look to it.

The story has retold several times - including a remake called Phantom of the Rue Morgue in 1954, a 1971 version that really deviates from the source material and a more accurately made for TV version in 1986 with George C. Scott.

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