Murders in the Rue Morgue (1971 film)

Murders in the Rue Morgue
Directed by Gordon Hessler
Produced by Louis M. Heyward
Written by Edgar Allan Poe (story)
Christopher Wicking
Henry Slesar
Based on Murders in the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan Poe
Starring Jason Robards
Herbert Lom
Christine Kaufmann
Adolfo Celi
Maria Perschy
Lilli Palmer
Michael Dunn
Music by Waldo de los Ríos
Cinematography Manuel Berenguer
Edited by Max Benedict
Distributed by American International Pictures
Release dates
  • September 1971 (1971-09)
Running time
87 min / 98 min restored director's cut
Country United States
Language English

Murders in the Rue Morgue is a 1971 American horror film directed by Gordon Hessler, starring Jason Robards and Herbert Lom.[1] It is ostensibly an adaptation of the Edgar Allan Poe story of the same name, although it departs from the story in several significant aspects, at times more resembling Gaston Leroux's Phantom of the Opera. In an interview on the film's DVD, Hessler said that he thought everyone already knew the ending of the story, so he felt it necessary to reinvent the plot.


The story revolves around an early 20th century theatre troupe in Paris specializing in gory, naturalistic horror plays in the fashion of the Grand Guignol. The director, Cesar Charron (Jason Robards), is presenting Poe's "Murders in the Rue Morgue". Cesar's wife, the actress Madeline (Christine Kaufmann), whose mother (Lilli Palmer) had been murdered by axe, is haunted by nightmares of an ax-wielding man. Then, suddenly, Rene Marot (Herbert Lom), a former lover of Madeline's mother thought long dead after being horribly disfigured on stage, mysteriously returns and begins murdering members and ex-members of the acting troupe, confounding the Paris police, who initially suspect Cesar.



Murders in the Rue Morgue received mixed to negative reviews from critics. Leonard Maltin panned the film, awarding the film 1 1/2 out of 4 stars.[2] Howard Thompson from The New York Times gave the film a positive review, praising the film's direction, costume design, color, and performances. Thompson did however note that the film's ending while sound was fairly predictable.[1] Donald Guarisco from Allmovie gave the film a negative review, criticizing the film's substandard pacing, convoluted plot,performances, and lack of actual tension, writing "This riff on the famous Edgar Allen Poe story has an intriguing, experimental edge to it but is not fully successful at reinventing the Poe subgenre".[3]

Home media

The film was released on DVD as a double feature with Cry of the Banshee on Apr 15, 2003.[4]

See also


  1. 1 2 Thompson, Howard. "New York Times: Murders in the Rue Morgue". NY Times. Retrieved 2008-08-31.
  2. Maltin, Leonard (September 2012). leonard Maltin's 2013 Movie Guide. New York, New York: Penguin Press. p. 962. ISBN 978-0-451-23774-3.
  3. Guarisco, Donald. "Murders in the Rue Morgue (1971) - Gordon Hessler". Donald Guarisco. Retrieved 28 February 2016.
  4. "Murders in the Rue Morgue (1971) - Gordon Hessler". Allmovie. Retrieved 28 February 2016.
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