House Of Wax (1953)

AUGUST 20, 2007


The cinematic history of House of Wax is bafflingly hard to follow. When Dark Castle announced a remake of the “original” with Vincent Price, many pointed out that the Price film itself was a remake of a movie called Mysteries Of The Wax Museum (which is included on the DVD – a literal ‘extra feature’). And then Dark Castle’s film was really a remake of Tourist Trap! What the hell? It's like we need a damn chart.

Of the three films, or four if you count Trap, this is the only one filmed in 3-D. Which means it’s the only one featuring a guy playing paddleball into the camera and talking to the audience. There’s also a lengthy scene of dancing girls, presumably kicking their way out of the screen and into your lap. Padding: IN THREE DIMENSIONS!

Of course, any film with Price will feel like it’s padded whenever they cut away from Price himself. As one of the most charming and delightful screen presences of all time, you can’t help but get a bit bored whenever they focus on the less murderous characters. Especially when their actions don’t make any goddamn logical sense. At one point, the lead girl, suspicious of Price, tells her boyfriend that she thinks one of the wax statues is really her sister’s corpse. Her boyfriend doesn’t believe her, and to drive his point across, he convinces her to go the cops and tell them her story “so they can tell you the same thing I did: You’re crazy!” Who would actually do something like that? But the story has to be moved along, and dammit that’s how they are going to do it.

Price is in top form, shaming everyone around him as he delivers double entendres like “I’ve done her over a dozen times and she hasn’t complained,” without even having to try, while the others cause groans with their (thankfully infrequent) attempts at humor. Speaking of which, if anyone can understand why the guy sneezes at the end, feel free to explain.

Also there’s an Igor type character, named Igor, who resembles a young Tommy Lee Jones. Sweet.

I picked this DVD up the other day at Best Buy, since it was on sale for 5 bucks and I had a 5 dollar gift certificate (I am a cheap bastard). Sadly, it came in the damn snapper case. What the hell ever possessed Warner Bros (and for a while, New Line) to use these goddamn things? Not only are they flimsy and ugly, but they stick out another centimeter or two when you put them on your shelf. Does they not consider OCD folks such as myself when they make their product? Go to hell, snapper case!

What say you?


  1. I actually got to see this as a kid at a theater we used to have that only screened vintage films; sadly we have no more in my neck of the woods. But the cool thing was we actually got to watch it in 3-D. So, like you, a year or so ago I found it for 7 bucks around Halloween somewhere, and decided to grab it having such fond memories of that experience as a kid. Well, some movies are just better when you're younger. Still not a bad film, but it does show its age a bit.

    Also, I'm glad I'm not the only one who thought the 2005 version was more a remake of Tourist Trap than this. Of course most people don't even know what Tourist Trap is (Which is a shame), so I guess I'm not suprised. Of course most people probably didn't know they were watching a remake of anything for that matter.

  2. Yeah, Tourist Trap is definitely an unsung gem. I try to push it whenever possible.

  3. Chuck Connors and Killer Mannequins; what is their not to like?

  4. I LOVE this version of House of Wax, it is one of my all time favorites. But then, I do love me some Vincent Price!

  5. The character of Igor bears an even stronger resemblance to a young Charles Bronson, because he is actually played by a young Charles Bronson.

  6. Hahahaha wow, shows how much I pay attention. Nice!

  7. Sergio Stivaleti - he of the special fx fame in virtually all of Argento's movies - directed a remake of this in 1997, which was co-written by Argento and Fulci. Not a great film in the end (despite having three Italian horror legends coming together on it) but maybe worth a look....

  8. Sorry I seem to have lost the recommendations page.... maybe I haven't looked hard enough but you don't seem to have reviewed any of the Italian cannibal films. I'd recommend Umberto Lenzi's Cannibal Ferox and Ruggero Deodato's Cannibal Holocaust to get going.... I think they'd classify as horror!

    Unconnected to these in almost every way (apart from the Italy reference), last nightI was also thinking of Nicholas Roeg's Don't Look Now (Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie in a creepy Venice), which scared the shit out of me when I was a kid and is still quite a powerful movie today.

  9. I've seen both of those before... great stuff. There's a pseudo remake of Holocaust coming, from the guy who did the Tom Jane Punisher (and co-wrote Armageddon!!!). I'll look into that House of Wax remake you mentioned in the other thread though, thanks!

  10. I've been meaning to pick up this dvd for a while. I think WB only did one other dvd release like this, of the 1931 and 1941 versions of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the first being the oscar-winning turn by Frederich March, the second being the not-as-oscar-worthy turn by Spencer Tracy. But still, one hell of a DVD--you get to see not only the groundbreaking transformation of March into Hyde, but also Tracy in a dream sequence with Ingrid Bergman and Lana Turner harnessed to his chariot, whipping them like horses. Heady stuff.

    And I'm one of the few people I know who really, really enjoyed the Dark Castle House of Wax.

    So are you gonna review Mysteries too?

  11. That's probably today's movie actually!

    I love the 2005 one too. Great modern survival slasher. It's also the movie where Chad Murray fucked Paris which led to his divorce from Sophia Bush, aka the future Mrs BC.

  12. I have seen this movie about three times, and it's one of my faves, although when I was a kid watching on TV, I thought the whole 3D bit was really weird. Speaking of Tourist Trap, I rented that movie not too long ago, and while I found it creepy, it just wasn't as scary as I remembered it when I saw it only a few years prior, and I never knew the HOW remake was a TT remake, how odd.

  13. Well it's not REALLY a TT remake, but it certainly has more in common with TT than House of Wax. Kids car breaks down, whole town empty, etc.

  14. Your story oddly mirrors mine! I picked up my copy this past wekend at BB, it was less than $5 and I had a Rewards Card certificate for $5, so I got it for free.

    I am in the middle of watching it now. I thought Igor looked more like a young, but no less ugly, Charles Bronson.

    The paddleball guy and the dancers cracked me up. I wish they would release the 3-D versions of these films as an extra. It can't be that hard to do.

    I did get to see the credits in 3D tonight, though. I have a pair of the "Valiant Vision" glasses that were made for certain Valiant comics about a dezen years ago. The cool colors stay in the background and the hot colors come out at you. The credit were like that and the glasses worked beautifully for just that scene.

  15. Oops, I just saw the earlier comment... that it actually WAS Charles Bronson! I was right!

  16. Price puts most people he acts with to shame.

    I gotta say this movie had me yelling at the screen alot "She doesnt look like shes a max figure you dumbass!!! Why doesnt she slap him!?"

    None the less good watch.


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