Saturday, June 18, 2016

Murders in the Rue Morgue/The Dunwich Horror (Scream Factory Blu-ray)

This is a classic pairing of two early 70's movies that feature adaptations of two of the great Horror authors. The pairing makes sense because they are adaptations; not because they are good adaptations or that they share common story points.  They will not be the best adaptations of either Edgar Allan Poe or H.P. Lovecraft that you have seen. Murders in the Rue Morgue is more familiar to me as the Bela Lugosi film from the 30's though I do not necessarily have love for that film save for an affinity for ape suits. The Dunwich Horror, like most Lovecraft adaptations, should have remained a short story. The thing I love about that movie was only found to me recently when a purchase on Ebay gave me a fresh perspective on The Dunwich Horror. I'm going to offer some positive perspective on each movie then you can decide if those give you cause to purchase two handsome looking transfers.

What's to love about Murders in the Rue Morgue? It's a colorful movie that incorporates several creepy elements from carnival to ape suit that may get your Horror tickler going. As a mystery, it's been done. Hell, it's based on a Poe story from the 19th century. To say that is is a spectacular mystery may leave you feeling cheated by your own viewing history. Jason Robards with a great big black mustache is one gorgeous man. He's worth the price of admission, and gives me those 70's feels that I expect from Hammer films of the period. To me, Herbert Lom is The Phantom of the Opera and you'll find similarity in this appearance to that role in this picture. I think he's just swell, and even though this is an AIP picture through and through, it also has a bit of Hammer in its presentation, sets and costuming.

The Dunwich Horror would have just been a great occult Horror film if it didn't have to live up to the fact that it is one of the best well known Lovecraft tales. The best way to enjoy this one is to divorce it form its source material, enjoy the strong early 70's occulty goodness and give one aspect of the film your full attention: the soundtrack. I had the opportunity to grab the LP of the soundtrack a few months back which, by itself, gave me a few good creeps. That got me more excited for the Blu-ray release and made me ready to revisit this one (having not seen it since I was twelve straight out of the dollar bin). While I have always enjoyed the story The Dunwich Horror, the movie never really got me good. I'm a huge fan of 70's occult pictures. The minute I started watching this movie and was able to treat it like another low budget witch flick I was able to find enjoyment in it. That doesn't mean I love it, or that it's my favorite of that era.

It's nice to see a Scream Factory double feature disc with extras. A commentary on Murders in the Rue Morgue and Dunwich Horror and a featurette on the Dunwich Horror. It's something, and that's what's important.

 Each movie has its merits. Each one is worth seeing, but I cannot promise you'll enjoy both of these. They are imperfect. AIP does the best Poe; and lucky for you both movies are AIP pictures. Lovecraft does the best Lovecraft... or Stuart Gordon if you want to jump forward over a decade.

You can order your copy now via Scream Factory or DiabolikDVD:

From Scream Factory:

Terrifying Tales From Literary Legends

A pair of horror's most famous authors – Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft – provide the inspiration for a most diabolical double feature.


1971 / Rated PG-13

Your first frightening film is 1971's Murders in the Rue Morgue. In early 20th-century Paris, a theatrical company with a specialty in Grand Guignol undertakes their most gruesome production yet. But when a madman with an axe to grind arrives on the scene, the stage is set for real mayhem and murder most foul. Will the backstage bloodshed be quelled – or is it curtains for the cast? Jason Robards and Herbert Lom star in this marvelously macabre mystery.


1970 / Rated R

From the City of Lights (and frights), our tour of terror moves on to a small New England town in 1970's The Dunwich Horror. When a beautiful student named Nancy catches the eye of the weird Wilbur Whateley, it's up to her professor, the good doctor and occult expert Dr. Henry Armitage, to warn her that no good will come of it. But as Armitage digs deeper into the Whateley family history, he uncovers a buried secret – and a plot intended to call forth an evil beyond imagination. A cult favorite that proves that The Old Ones are good ones, The Dunwich Horror stars Dean Stockwell, Ed Begley, and Sandra Dee.

Bonus Features


NEW Audio Commentary With Author And Film Historian Steve Haberman
Stage Tricks & Screen Frights Featurette
Theatrical Trailer


NEW Audio Commentary With Author And Film Historian Steve Haberman
Theatrical Trailer

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