Verdict: Wax. It’s just not that interesting.
PROFESSOR JARROD: Here’s President Lincoln and his assassin John Wilkes Booth. One of my few concessions to the macabre.
Maybe this was a good scary movie when seen on the big screen and in its intended 3D format with the benefit of those kooky little red and green glasses you were given in the cinema of the 50’s, got with your Happy Meal in the 80’s, and a pair of which I most recently received with the direct-to-DVD release of Space Chimps 2.
On non-3D DVD, sans kooky red and green glasses, it’s just kind of boring. (Space Chimps 2 is way better, which is a damning indictment on any film.)
You don’t wanna hear anything of the plot, do you? You do? Oh, okay. Fine. Be it on your own head.
It all starts with this wax museum. One of the owners, whose name I neither know nor care to learn, decides to burn the silly thing to the ground for the insurance cash. The other — who may as well be named Vincent Price, really — isn’t so hot on the idea, and the two are soon missing and presumed dead in the ensuing flame.
Price, however, is not really dead. No, he soon emerges from the ashes, soap opera-style, and reopens his ill-advised attraction for the fashionable elite. But he makes one fateful mistake. He hires an assistant. A nosy, smarmy, British assistant, who is all honor and duty and holier-than-thou-y, and strangely disapproves of the way our Vince is going about producing such realistic waxworks: ie. stealing dead bodies from the morgue and dipping them in a big cauldron of molten wax.
Take note of that cauldron. It comes up later.
Anyway, Assistant Guy has a girlfriend, and not only has one of her friends been turned into Marie Antoinette, but she also happens to be the good lunatic Price’s ideal of a Joan of Arc. And here’s where the trouble begins for our anti-hero. After all, it’s one thing to put already dead people on display as other dead people; it’s quite another to make them dead in order to do so. At least, Assistant Guy seems to think so, and I guess we’ve gotta go with him on that one.
So, he takes exception to the kill-his-girlfriend-for-decorative-purposes concept, and he foils that plan. The underground chamber of horrors that is Vince’s workshop is discovered — is that Charles Bronson as evil henchman Igor? — murder is attempted, a just revenge is exacted (remember the big cauldron of wax?) and that is pretty much that.
There are those that will tell you that this was the great Vincent Price’s break out role, that it is what put him on the heady path to Scooby Doo-appearing stardom, that it is a complex and thrilling horror film of unheard of depth and charm. I think those people are insane.
You know what? The 2005 remake, containing teen idols Elisha Cuthbert, Chad Michael Murray, Jared Padalecki and, ahem, Paris Hilton was actually better.
Really, I think that says it all.
BUY IT HERE | WATCH THE TRAILER
The House of Wax (1953)
Story by: Charles Belden
Written by: Crane Wilbur
Directed by: André De Toth
Starring: Vincent Price… and other people