Story by Edgar Allan Poe
Produced By Carl Laemmle, Jr.
Directed by Robert Florey (The Face Behind The Mask, The Beast with Five Fingers, The Outer Limits)
It’s 1845 in Paris and Dr. Mirakle is running a sideshow attraction featuring his ape named Erik (Charles Gemora). The good doctor wants to create a mate for Erik and the best thing for that is young virgin women. Inject a little ape blood into them and that should work wonders. Enter Mademoiselle Camille, who catches Erik’s fancy, and her suitor, aspiring detective Pierre, the stage is set for mayhem.
Personal Thoughts: I really enjoyed this early Lugosi film. His portrayal of an obsessed madman is one of his better roles, if not a little limited. His display of anger when the street victim’s blood turns out to be impure is chilling. You see a momentary sign of humanity once he realizes she is dead…before casually pressing a lever with his foot to dump her into the river. The clearly painted city landscapes may be jarring to some but they add to the surreal nature of the film. Just overlook the obvious stock footage or man-in-the-suit cutaway shots of Erik and you’ll really enjoy this classic.
- Despite being pre-Code, Universal still trimmed some 20 minutes from the original running time due to its excessive violence.
- It was a box office failure, a key reason behind Lugosi ending his relationship with Universal.
- It is highly praised now for its expressionistic style, often compared to Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920).
- Catch the trailer on YouTube
- Part of The Bela Lugosi Collection (five films starring Lugosi and Boris Karloff)
- Universal Vault Series
- As a bonus, listen to episode 319 of the B Movie Cast