House of Wax (1953) (stand alone review with spoilers)

Unfortunately, I did not see it in 3D but I can tell a lot of the scenes which were meant for it. The scene at the opening of the wax museum with the weird guy with multiple paddle-ball toys stands out. It must have been a big thing at the time. I must admit, I don’t know how popular 3D was when this came out, but it must have been fun. I also must admit that I have only seen clips of the remake, one of them being the killing of Paris Hilton’s character. I do know that the stories are not similar in any way. This one is superior without viewing as this one has probably the greatest horror icon of them all, in the great Vincent Price. While I am a huge Bela Lugosi fan, there’s no denying Price’s impact on horror and all his memorable characters. If you’re looking for a fan of his, look no further than Dr. Gangrene. He’s done youtube videos of all of his flicks. They’re fun watches if you’d like to look him up.

Directed by Andrew De Toth, House of Wax is the story and descent of Professor Henry Jarod (Vincent Price). He operates and co-owns, with his partner Matthew Burke (Roy Roberts), a wax museum. Unlike others, his museum is more about historical accuracy than shocks, which apparently was the popular trend at the time. Burke, however, feels differently and believes they could be making more money. He’s interested in getting out. After Henry shows a possible new investor, which would allow Burke to leave, they get the news that the investor, Sidney Wallace (Paul Cavanagh), isn’t willing to do anything until he comes back from a 3 month business trip. Burke decides to burn the place down for the insurance money. Henry tries to stop him but gets knocked out by Burke and left to burn with his creations.

Thinking Henry died in the fire, Burke has moved on and decides to spend some of the $25,000 insurance money on his new fiance Cathy Gray (Carolyn Jones). Cathy’s friend Sue Allen (Phyllis Kirk) discovers Cathy dead and sees the murderer. She’s chased through the streets and ends up at her friend’s house, barely escaping. The murderer is a deformed man dressed in black. Burke is also murdered, but his body is hanged in an elevator shaft, making it look like a suicide. Both bodies go missing from the morgue, along with other bodies.

Meanwhile, Henry (very much alive but with severely burned hands and confined to a wheel chair) has opened a new wax museum with his two assistants, Igor (Charles Bronson but credited as Buchinsky) and Leon (Nedrick Young). This time he’s gone for the exact show he refused before. He’s opened a room of macabre. A room dedicated to death. And to be extra shocking, he’s using current headlines. He has a “replica” of Burke’s body hanging in an elevator shaft. Sue is particularly interested in the Joan of Arc exhibit, whom she believes has a very accurate resemblance to her deceased friend Cathy. She’s convinced by her friend Paul (Scott Andrews) that it’s just a coincidence. Henry tells her, he saw photographs of Cathy and merely modeled Joan after her.

Sue comes back after dark and discovers the true horror, that Joan actually is just the body of Cathy with wax over her. She is grabbed by Henry, who can walk the whole time, and taken to his workshop where she’ll be turned into his masterpiece, Marie Antoinette. She had been his favorite wax figure and he’d been searching for his perfect model. When she doesn’t meet Paul, he comes looking for her and is almost killed by Igor but the police arrive in time and stop him from decapitating Paul with a guillotine. They save Sue just as the wax is about to pour over her body and during the struggle, Henry falls into the vat of hot wax.

It’s classic Price and it’s hard to say if it’s one of his best roles, since he was amazing in almost every role he played. I’d give this 4.5 out of 5 for sure. It’s not as good as the House on Haunted Hill, but it’s a great flick nonetheless. Check this out if you’re a fan of Price, which means you probably already have. What’s your take on this flick? What’s  your favorite Price flick? Comment below or on the Facebook page this is posted. Message me anytime with suggestions. I’m always looking for that rare 80’s gem or if you’re a filmmaker, send me a link. I’ll review your flick here.


Later, ghouls.






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