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Friday, February 1, 2013

Murders in the Rue Morgue (1971)

Edgar Allan Poe was the Stephen King of his day.  Thanks to his wicked and twisted imagination, generations of filmmakers have had the pleasure of bringing his stories to life.  This is not the first time Murders in the Rue Morgue has been brought to the Silver Screen.  The earliest version was 1932 with Bela Lugosi in the lead. [See my review elsewhere on the site.] It's excellent and well worth your time.

For this incarnation of Rue Morgue, director Gordon Hessler [Scream and Scream Again, Cry of the Banshee] put his "Hammer Horror look-alike" spin on the classic tale.  The costumes and sets are gorgeous.  However, the rest is fairly predictable and, if I might say, a bit dull.  While Rue Morgue was filmed exclusively in Spain, it is made to look like 19th century France.  The story takes place in a Paris Opera house that is staging the play Murders in the Rue Morgue.  There is a phantom killer  [Yes, this version borrows heavily from Phantom of the Opera as well as Poe] who is obsessed with a certain actress on stage.  THe rest unfolds predictably with few surprises.

I had high hopes for this movie. After all it has James Robards [The Day After, Something Wicked This Way Comes] as the leader of the theater troupe and Herbert Lom [Phantom of the Opera, Spartacus] as the phantom, Rene Marot.  Both are fine in their roles but deliver nothing special.  Christine Kaufmann is the actress who completes the love triangle.  However, most of her work in tis film is dreadful.  I would have dispatched with her long before Marot has the opportunity to try.

As a final note, although there are a number of grisly murders in this film, the way they are done is anything but grisly.  This is pretty tame G rated stuff.  It's an OK movie but nothing that warrants a great deal of attention.  Stick to the 1932 version!

RATING: Good.

For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.

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