2 September 2004 | david-697
A bit of a bad dream.
Not a straight remake of the classic Poe tale, more an odd mixture of `The Phantom Of The Opera' (Herbert Lom is effectively reprising his Hammer Phantom), `Theatre of Death' and Poe's familiar themes of premature burial, `Murders In The Rue Morgue' is an experiment which does not quite work.
Partly this is down to Chris Wicking's script, not best known for his narrative clarity, here he reaches it a new low, with a script obscure in the extreme (at several points it seems to contradict itself). He is not helped by Hessler's direction, the strengths showed in the earlier `Scream And Scream Again' seem to have disappeared, and replaced by sheer shoddiness (some of the murders are very badly staged). A more imaginative director was needed to compensate for the script, especially in the case of the repetitive dream sequences which pepper the film.
By this time Vincent Price had jumped ship and was replaced by Jason Robards Jnr. An odd choice, as aside from being too contemporary for this period setting, he is also, dare I say it, too good an actor for this material. It really needed an actor, who like Price, had a strong sense of irony. As a result Robards just looks flat. Lom comes across much better, but again ham-fisted direction by Hessler sometimes makes him look absurd (the worst offender is when Lom follows Robards; it's staged so badly that a blind man would have noticed Lom).
It's a mess, but despite its many faults it is entertaining enough, the frustrating thing about it is that you get the feeling that given a better script and a more imaginative director (and Vincent Price instead of Robards) this movie could have been very good indeed.