Murders in the Rue Morgue / The Dunwich Horror – Double Feature Scream Factory Blu-ray Review
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Scream Factory serves up a double feature Blu-ray with two movies based on legendary authors Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft. The first movie is Murders in the Rue Morgue, based on Edgar Allan Poe’s short story. The film is more Phantom of the Opera than crazy orangutan on the loose, but still provides a solid murder mystery. The next movie included is H.P. Lovecraft’s The Dunwich Horror. It’s a tale about the “Old Ones” involving ritual sexing and Dean Stockwell barely staying awake. Both movies fail at delivering enough frights to keep most viewers interested, but there can be some fun had with them, but it’s a hard recommend for this horror fan. However, with that being said, let’s continue on with this review and see where it takes us…
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DISCS: 1 RUN-TIME: 98 / 88 min ASPECT RATIO: 1.78:1 RESOLUTION: 1080p AUDIO: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 LANGUAGE: English SUBTITLES: English REGION: A/1 RATING: PG-13,R PRODUCTION DATE: 1971 / 1970 RELEASE DATE: Mar 29, 2016
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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.
MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE 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.
THE DUNWICH HORROR 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.
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The first movie is Murders in the Rue Morgue. Instead of taking the short story from Poe, writers Christopher Wicking and Henry Slesar decided to base the movie around a group of actors performing the story Murders in the Rue Morgue, while at the same time, actual murders take place. The killer, dressed like the Phantom of the Opera, is going around dispatching people with a bottle of acid. Each victim has a connection to Cesar Charron (a role meant for Vincent Price, but instead was given to Jason Robards). Cesar is married to Madeleine (Christine Kaufmann), the daughter of a former actress who was murdered. Weirdly enough, Cesar was in love with Madeleine’s mother, but after he couldn’t have her, he went for the younger version instead. The murderer has a connection to the past and Cesar will have skeletons revealed that he would have rather kept hidden.
Murders in the Rue Morgue features a plot device involving Madeleine having these premonitions as to what is going to happen in the near future. As you watch the movie, more and more of the mystery is unraveled and her visions slowly start coming together. I’ve seen enough horror movies to figure out what was going to happen, but the story itself was interesting enough to keep me entertained for the 98 minute run time. The ending does fall flat, which most of the American International movies have a tendency of doing. They don’t really known when to end the film, so they usually just randomly stop it on a freeze frame and roll credits.
I wouldn’t call Murders in the Rue Morgue a terrifying horror film, as it’s rated PG-13 and is light on both the red stuff and scares. I’m not saying a horror movie needs blood and guts to be good, but in the case of this flick, some violence and fright might have made things a bit more exciting. Either way, the mystery was enough to give this flick a recommend.
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Based on H.P. Lovecraft’s story of the same name, The Dunwich Horror is a slow film, that builds up to a weak ending. It plods along, with lead actor Dean Stockwell slowly doling out his lines, nearly putting the viewer to sleep. The only thing to entice the viewer to keep their eyes open is the sight of actress Sandra Dee writhing in ecstasy as an invisible force has its way with her.
Dean Stockwell plays Wilbur Whateley, who believes in the occult and the ancient Necronomicon. He wants to bring back the ancient ones, old beings that ruled the Earth at one point. In order to do this, he must obtain a virgin to do weird stuff too, while a crazy deformed being sweeps across the countryside, killing people with its 70s disco vision. It all sounds exciting, but unfortunately, The Dunwich Horror takes its time, a bit too much time, in getting to the actual meat of the story and when it finally does, it’s over in yet another weak AIP freeze frame ending.
I’ll be perfectly honest with you folks, I nearly fast forwarded this movie, as it was painfully boring. The H.P. Lovecraft story is pretty different, and to be perfectly honest, much more exciting. It’s a shame the story was twisted into this rather mundane flick.
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The movies may be weak, but the Blu-ray from Scream Factory is a perfectly acceptable Double Feature release. It’s a bit rough around the edges in regards to the video. The Dunwich Horror, in particular, has some rough looking moments, that are grainy and unfocused. There are also a good amount of dirt and scratches present at times. However, there is also a nice amount of clear video that makes up for those rough moments. Murders in the Rue Morgue fairs better in that it hardly as any moments of rough footage. The audio for both movies comes across clear and precise. No complaints to be given.
Murders in the Rue Morgue features a sit down with director Gordon Hessler, which is actually an old feature. You can tell it’s an old feature, as it says to pick up the movie on either VHS or DVD. The interview goes into a little bit of detail about the story, uncalled for edits and the reason for not having Vincent Price in the flim. Also included is a new commentary with author and film historian Steve Haberman and finally a trailer. The Dunwich Horror includes a trailer and a new commentary, once again with Steve Haberman.
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MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE
NEW Audio Commentary With Author And Film Historian Steve Haberman
Stage Tricks & Screen Frights Featurette
THE DUNWICH HORROR
NEW Audio Commentary With Author And Film Historian Steve Haberman
There is plenty of fans of both these movies out there, so I think you’ll be happy to hear that the Blu-ray from Scream Factory is an all around solid release. As for me, I felt somewhat entertained with Murders in the Rue Morgue, but completely bored with The Dunwich Horror. I am happy that Scream Factory included some special features, but it’s hard to recommend the disc due to the weak flicks. It’s up to you to decide if you like the movies enough to justify plunking down the cash.