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Monday, October 29, 2012

October 29- House of Wax (1953)

What would a horror movie marathon be without including some of the Prince of Horror, Vincent Price. House of Wax was made by Warner Bros. and was one of the first movies to be filmed in 3-D and was one of the films that started the 3-D craze that lasted from 1953 to about 1955. It is also a remake of the 1933 film, Mystery of the Wax Museum. The movie takes place in New York City with Vincent Price playing Henry Jarrod, a brilliant and talented wax sculptor who is turned into a killer by a traumatic event.

Jarrod adored his sculptures...
The story begins at Henry Jarrod's wax museum, where his business partner, Matthew Burke (played by Roy Roberts) comes to discuss ways that the museum could attract more customer, by showing more gruesome sights (such as crimes or executions). Jarrod refuses to comply with Burke's idea. A few businessmen come to see the museum and offer to buyout Burke's stake in the museum. After they leave, however, Burke announces to Jarrod that he's not willing to wait that long and attempts/succeeds in burning down the museum for the insurance money. Jarrod tries to fight back, and an epic battle ensues, but he is beaten and left for dead in the museum, stuck watching his beloved creations melt away.

Only to be made to watch them burn.
While Jarrod is presumed to be dead, a mysterious burned man kills a number of people, including Burke and his fiance Cathy Gray (Carolyn Jones). Meanwhile, Jarrod is revealed to have survived the fire, but with severe burns all over his hands, he can no longer sculpt. Jarrod is shown to be opening a new museum, called the House of Wax, with sculpting help from his deaf mute assistant Igor (played by Charles Bronson) Instead of taking a historical stance to the art, Jarrod decided to create the "Chamber of Horrors," which contains wax depictions of notable crimes from both the past and more recent. One of the exhibits is actually Burke's death, where he was hung in an elevator shaft.

A friend of the late Cathy Gray, Sue Allen (played by Phyllis Kirk) visits to the museum and eventually makes the gruesome discovery that almost all of the sculptures in the House of Wax were simply dead bodies of people with wax shells. Jarrod tries to turn Sue Allen into his new Marie Antoinette sculpture, which was his favorite before it was destroyed when the first museum was burned down. Jarrod, however, falls into a vat of hot wax and Sue Allen is saved.

Jarrod attempts to turn Sue Allen into a sculpture, but fails

Overall, I thought this movie had some issues. First of all, the fight scene between Burke and Jarrod at the beginning of the film felt like the climax event of the film, which no moment in the entire rest of the film stands up to. Also, the fact that Burke is killed very soon afterwards gives the audience almost nothing justified to look forward to for the rest of the film. Jarrod just becomes a cold-blooded killer, killing people simply to include them in the museum.

A fun scene that plays on the 3-D effects.

On the upside, this movie played the 3-D gimmick perfectly. There was enough exploitation of the 3-D effects in the film to keep you interested, but not too much that it takes away from the credibility of the movie itself. Also, Vincent Price is incredible as Henry Jarrod; the way he portrays the character throughout the film really helps the audience get into his mindset, which is key for a thriller like this. This film was praised when it was first released, and today, it is heralded as one of the classics of the genre.

Vincent Price, the icon that made this movie good.

I give House of Wax a 4 out of 5.

1 comment:

  1. Hi I´,m from a magazine and I´d like to usea one of those images posted in this blog for an article. Is it possible? what do I have to do? Thanks.