Friday, 6 July 2012

House of Wax (1953)

"The House of Wax" (1953, Warner Bros. Pictures, André de Toth) is the remake of a movie called "Mystery of the Wax Museum" from 1933, and was itself remade again in 2005 (with the main best scene being Paris Hilton getting a spear through the head!).

Vincent Price stars as Professor Jarrod, a waxwork sculptor who owns a museum. His museum is criticised by his financial backer (Roy Roberts) for being boring and old fashioned. When Jarrod refuses to 'liven up' his exhibits, the backer sets the museum alight, clearly as a last ditch attempt to make some cash off of the insurance. In shock, and unable to leave his waxwork creations to burn alone, Jarrod is left in the flames, apparently to his doom.

Jarrod survives, however, but is wheelchair bound. He opens another waxwork museum with his helper, a deaf-mute name Igor (Charles Bronson).

Learning from previous lessons, Jarrod has a special 'Chamber of Horrors' section to his museum which is a big success. It features some older crimes and newer terrors. The crowds are loving it.

Suddenly, a disfigured killer is on the loose, seemingly avenging Jarrod's mishaps, by killing the backer. Unfortunately, a young woman is also killed.

When the young woman's friend recognises her deceased chum as one of the waxwork models things get hairy.

A very nicely executed film which tried hard to maintain the feeling of the 1910s.

The 2005 film kind of overdid the whole thing, but the 50s version kept some finesse to it. I really liked the feeling of this whole film and the eerie scenes on the streets are enjoyably atmospheric.

The character of Cathy Gray (Carolyn Jones) is just a silly little woman. Her voice is really very high pitched, too. But you do feel terribly for her friend Sue Allen (Phyllis Kirk) who, for a 50s horror female role, wasn't too helpless... well, I said TOO helpless!

Remember the period it was made in, though. It's a movie you switch the lights off to and grab a mug of hot chocolate.

[Picture: Warner Bros.]