Murders In The Rue Morgue / The Dunwich Horror – Double Feature (Blu-ray Review)

Murders-In-The-Rue-Morgue-Dunwich-HorrorA pair of horror’s most famous authors – Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft – provide the inspiration for a most diabolical double feature. Scream Factory presents two terrifying tales from literary legends with the release of Murders in the Rue Morgue & The Dunwich Horror on Blu-ray on March 29, 2016. These two American International Pictures classics are now finally available for the first time on Blu-ray, in a release complete with new audio commentary with author and film historian Steve Haberman, and a stage tricks and screen frights featurette. Keep reading to find out more!

Murders in the Rue Morgue 1

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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?

Gordon Hessler’s take on the Edgar Allan Poe tale is one that deviates from the source material and definitely sort of steps outside it to become its own thing with some familiarity.  If anything, this tale will remind people more of The Phantom Of The Opera than the Edgar Allan Poe story.  Hessler claims that he felt everyone knew the ending of the story (It had already been adapted to film before this), so he started with the revelation at the end of the story and built his around that.

Whatever it is, Murders In The Rue Morgue has a great title, good names attached (Roger Corman, Jason Robards, Hessler) but isn’t too great a film to speak of.  There are some nice sets and costuming, but overall its kind of a snoozer.  Its magic works for a little bit during the first act, but once you’re into the thick of things it just feels like a second-rate Phantom of the Opera riff.  There’s nothing really here to miss, uncover or revisit.  Its just a timely period horror drama that doesn’t quite push the limits due to a more friendly rating.  There is some blood and some cool burn make-up…but nothing that’s going to wow or goof with you.

Dunwich Horror 1

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When a beautiful student named Nancy catches the eye of the weird Wilbur Whateley, her professor, the good doctor and occult expert Dr. Henry Armitage, knows 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.

Of this double feature disc, The Dunwich Horror proves to the be the no contest winner.  Not a great film itself by any means, but surely a more entertaining experience.  Its got a fun score, performers, effects and plenty of weirdness to just keep the momentum running.  Its also super short.  Topping it off is a fun animated opening credits sequence, the likes of we don’t see very much ever in the modern film landscape.

My attraction to this one may just be my love for Dean Stockwell.  Stockwell plays Wilbur Whateley in the film.  A lot of the strange and weird happenings begin and end with him.  Its a creepy, eerie and enjoyable performance from the Hollywood lifer that just shows his boldness to take on any interesting role in front of him.  This along with plenty of the other happenings.  Including a series of just craziness to cap of the film’s third act, keep it as something I definitely will revisit in the future.

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Video Dex-1Dex-1Dex-1Dex-1Dexter-0

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Clarity/Detail:  Both films have prints that are very good shape and transferred over very well.  The images are clean, sharp and full looking.  Details run really good as you can see all the grisly little details of the facial melting and bloody murders both films share.

Depth:  Both films feature a nice loose image with good spacing and smooth, cinematic movements.

Black Levels:  Blacks are deep, with no crushing.  Some minor detail is hidden in darkness, but overall the films have some good shading and texture present in the blacks.

Color Reproduction:  Colors come pretty pronounced here.  You get the red-paint Italian style blood and its vivid lusciousness as its own kinda star.  Primaries look pretty bold and pronounces too.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are natural and maintain a consistent appearance throughout the film’s duration.  Detail is actually quite remarkable in close-up and medium shots, with a very minimal amount of smoothness.

Noise/Artifacts:  Pretty clean, there is a streak during one shot early on in Rue Morgue.  Other than that some expected specs/dirt.

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Audio Format(s): English 2.0 Mono DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics:  This track is pretty good, and gets the job done.  Its on the lighter end, with low level sounds not making too much of an impact.  Effects, vocals and music are all well balanced in the mix and sound plenty free of one another.

Low Frequency Extension:  N/A

Surround Sound Presentation:  N/A

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is clean and clear and doesn’t sound very date at all.

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Extras Dex-1Dex-1Dexter-0Dexter-0Dexter-0

Audio Commentary

  • With Author and Film Historian Steve Haberman (Both Films)

Murders In The Rue Morgue

Stage Tricks & Screen Frights (HD, 11:39) – A vintage featurette interview from a previous release with director Gordon Hessler.

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:52) 

The Dunwich Horror

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:16) 

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Summary Dex-1Dex-1Dex-1Dexter-0Dexter-0

Not the double feature that’s going to set the world on fire, but at least The Dunwich Horror is worthy of this release.  These two films look like they may have come from being a part of deals for other releases in the Scream Factory canon.  However it may be, they both look and sound quite good here on Blu-ray.  And the Gordon Hessler interview is a very nice and cool extra to have.  For those that collect, this is a solid pickup, and I think The Dunwich Horror is pretty good to reason to have it by itself.



Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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