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TRIPLE FEATURE:
THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE starring BELA LUGOSI, LEON AMES and MS. SIDNEY FOX
THE RAVEN starring BELA LUGOSI, BORIS KARLOFF, IRENE WARE, LESTER MATTHEWS and SAMUEL S. HINDS
THE BLACK CAT starring BORIS KARLOFF and BELA LUGOSI with DAVID MANNERS and JULIE BISHOP

PLEASE NOTE: THIS TRIPLE FEATURE IS ONLY AVAILABLE AS A REGION ONE (USA / CANADA) DVD. IT MAY NOT PLAY ON INTERNATIONAL DISC UNITS.

MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE

Having missed the opportunity to direct Frankenstein for Universal, Robert Florey was offered THE 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.

THE RAVEN

Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff team up in THE RAVEN. Lugosi is crazed brain-surgeon Dr. Richard Vollin who is infatuated with the characters and devices found in the Edgar Allan Poe stories. When a local judge brings his beautiful daughter for brain surgery, the doctor falls in love with her and is spurned by the judge when he asks for her hand in marriage. To extract revenge, Vollin invites the judge, his daughter, and her new fiancé over for dinner. He intends to try out some of his gruesome Poe gadgets on them. Before he can, enter Boris Karloff, a prison escapee who wants Vollin to do some much-needed plastic surgery on his face. Vollin obliges, but instead of making him handsome, he deforms Karloff and subjects him to his will. Now the evil Vollin can get down to business...
Lugosi’s performance is either a load of ham or a wonderful piece of stylized stagecraft. I think it’s a mixture of both, and if you’re a fan of charismatic Lugosi or campy Lugosi, you’ll discover plenty to adore here. The wild speeches and illogical jumps in Vollin’s thinking make him one of the classic mad doctors of cinema, and Lugosi looks like he’s having the best time of his life in the part. Karloff plays the more subdued part, and the meetings between the two icons don’t have the same brashness as those in THE BLACK CAT. It’s enjoyable seeing Karloff playing a self-justifying thug of middling intelligence, and he takes up the physical performance in the movie to mirror Lugosi’s verbal assault. Great fun.

THE BLACK CAT

The first cinematic teaming of horror greats Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi is a bizarre, haunting, and relentlessly eerie film that was surprisingly morbid and perverse for its time. Peter (David Manners) and Joan Allison (Julie Bishop) are honeymooning in Budapest when they meet mysterious scientist Dr. Vitus Verdegast (Lugosi) aboard a train. When the trio's bus from the train station gets into an accident, the young couple accompanies Verdegast to the castle of the spectral Hjalmar Poelzig (Karloff), an architect and the leader of a Satanic cult. Poelzig's treachery in World War I caused the deaths of thousands of his and Verdegast's countrymen, as well as Verdegast's own internment as a prisoner of war. While Verdegast was detained, Poelzig married first his wife, who later died, then his daughter. Now Verdegast has come back for retribution, and the honeymooners are trapped in the two men's horrifying battle of wits. Corpses preserved in glass cases, frightening Satanic rituals, and a climactic confrontation in which one of the characters is skinned alive add to the film's pervasive sense of evil and doom, along with the stark black-and-white photography by John Mescall that makes Poelzig's futuristic mountaintop mansion even more disturbing. Karloff and Lugosi are both excellent, with Lugosi doing a rare turn as a good guy, albeit one who has gone off the rails. Having little to do with the Edgar Allan Poe story of the same name, THE BLACK CAT has grown in stature over the years and is now widely regarded as the masterpiece of director Edgar G. Ulmer and one of the finest horror films ever made.

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