The movie Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932) is a horror film directed by Robert Florey, loosely based on Edgar Allan Poe’s short story of the same name. The film is set in 19th-century Paris and follows the sinister Dr. Mirakle, portrayed by Bela Lugosi, who believes in the evolutionary kinship between humans and apes.
In the shadowy corners of 1845 Paris, the eccentric Dr. Mirakle conducts sinister experiments, merging ape blood with human subjects in hopes of finding a companion for his articulate simian, Erik. Amidst the city’s fog, Pierre Dupin, a bright yet inexperienced medical student and sleuth, stumbles upon Mirakle’s macabre carnival act. Enthralled by the spectacle, Pierre, his betrothed Camille L’Espanaye, and their companions are drawn into a web of intrigue.
Dr. Mirakle, bewitched by Camille’s beauty, envisions her as the perfect match for Erik. A seemingly innocent invitation to observe Erik up close leads to a harrowing encounter, as the ape’s violent outburst nearly claims Pierre’s life. Despite Mirakle’s attempts to mollify the situation, Camille’s instincts warn her of the lurking danger.
As the young couple departs, they unknowingly become the focus of a shadowy pursuit, orchestrated by Mirakle’s loyal aide, Janos. Meanwhile, the discovery of a lifeless woman, one of Mirakle’s unfortunate subjects, propels Pierre into a clandestine investigation. Defying authority, he secures a sample of the victim’s blood, uncovering a mysterious anomaly that hints at a larger conspiracy.
Mirakle’s obsession with Camille intensifies, culminating in a brazen abduction attempt by Erik. Pierre’s timely intervention is met with suspicion, leading to his wrongful arrest, while Camille vanishes without a trace. In a desperate search for answers, Pierre confronts a trio of foreign witnesses, each recounting the chilling screams of a woman in distress.
The grim discovery of Camille’s mother, lifeless and concealed within a chimney, clutching strands of ape fur, ignites a revelation in Pierre’s mind—Erik is the key to unraveling the mystery.
A frantic race to Mirakle’s lair ensues, where loyalty is shattered, and chaos reigns. In a climactic confrontation, Erik’s primal instincts seal Mirakle’s fate. The ensuing manhunt reaches a fever pitch as Erik, with Camille in his grasp, faces off against the authorities and a determined Pierre. On the precipice of danger, it is Pierre who must make a fateful decision, one that will safeguard his beloved from the grips of terror.
The movie Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932) is known for its atmospheric setting, expressionistic cinematography, and Lugosi’s chilling performance as the deranged Dr. Mirakle.
- Bela Lugosi as Dr. Mirakle
- Sidney Fox as Camille L’Espanaye
- Leon Ames as Pierre Dupin
- Bert Roach as Paul
- Betty Ross Clarke as Mme. L’Espanaye
- Brandon Hurst as Prefect of Police
- D’Arcy Corrigan as The Morgue Keeper
- Noble Johnson as Janos
The movie was one of the early horror films produced by Universal Pictures during the 1930s.
It featured groundbreaking makeup and special effects for its time, particularly in the portrayal of Erik the gorilla.
“Paris has never looked creepier than in this sadly overlooked early Universal horror film – and never less like it does in real life, for all that this was directed by a Frenchman. The influence of early German cinema hangs heavily over it, perhaps because that set so many precedents in cinematic horror.” 
“Murders In The Rue Morgue is a film best characterised as lacking the courage of its convictions. It feels as if it wants to be a courageous, transgressive drama, like Paramount’s Island Of Lost Souls, but in the end it rests content to leave the viewer not merely to join the dots, but to fill in any number of yawning gaps in its narrative. ”