Having missed the opportunity to direct Frankenstein
for Universal, Robert Florey
was offered Murders in the Rue Morgue
as a consolation, whereupon he transformed a pedestrian property into a minor classic. Owing more to Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
than to Edgar Allen Poe, the film stars Bela Lugosi
as Doctor Mirakle (accent on the second syllable), a carnival sideshow entertainer who doubles as a mad scientist. Kidnapping prostitutes off the Paris streets, Mirakle endeavors to mix their blood with that of his pet gorilla. His experiments will forever be doomed to failure, however, until he is able to obtain the blood of a virgin -- and that's where Camille L'Espanye (Sidney Fox
) comes into the picture. When Mirakle's monkey kidnaps Camille and murders her mother, suspicion immediately falls upon the girl's sweetheart, starving artist Pierre Dupin (Leon Waycoff, later known as Leon Ames
). But by using the deductive skills displayed in the original story by Poe's master detective C. Auguste Dupin, our hero not only proves his innocence, but rescues the helpless heroine from Mirakle's clutches.