The inventor of the horror story and the detective thriller, Edgar Allan Poe’s stories are as riveting today as they were then. They are collected in Tales of Mystery and Imagination, and they fired the imaginations of all suspense writers to come.
In what must have been a very irrational moment for them, my parents took me to the Astor cinema to see a horror movie. Supported, as I recall, by Abbot and Costello meet Frankenstein—at which I remember I laughed a lot—the colour feature began with a terrified woman, running through the streets of Paris, screaming “murder!” And when, soon after, the killer came through the skylight, wrapped in the awning and savagely killed his next victim, I was under the seat. And there I stayed. It was The Phantom of the Rue Morgue, a nonsense based on Poe’s The Murders in the Rue Morgue.
Its hard to understand how it bothered me at all, having seen that rather jolly kitsch piece in more recent times, but this matter runs deep. The film was so loosely based on Poe’s original that the principal character, M. Dupin, detective, was left out completely. Possibly wise, since even in 1957, anyone would have recognised him as the character from whom Arthur Conan Doyle copied Mr Sherlock Holmes.