A wax sculptor survives an arson fire started by his associate,
and becomes psychotic and murderous as a result.
House of Wax (1953)
Directed by André De Toth
Written by Crane Wilbur
Starring Vincent Price, Frank Lovejoy, Phyllis Kirk,
Carolyn Jones, Paul Picerni, Roy Roberts, Paul Cavanagh,
Dabbs Greer, Charles Bronson
House of Wax is the film that made Vincent Price a horror icon, mostly because of his intensely creepy performance and memorable character. The story is engaging and the supporting cast does a decent job, but it's Price throughout who carries this odd, revenge-driven horror show. The idea of wax figures is inexplicably creepy to begin with, so why not create a killer who is hiding the bodies of his victims in plain sight as exhibits in his wax museum? Such a great concept, and pretty crazy for the early 50's.
Price plays Professor Henry Jarrod, a renowned wax sculptor whose museum isn't turning a profit, and in order to correct this, his associate Matthew Burke (Roy Roberts) burns the place down for the insurance money. The only problem is Jarrod is still inside, and he is presumed dead. A few months later, Burke is murdered and his body disappears from the morgue, and Jarrod has resurfaced with a new wax museum and a host of apprentices to help him sculpt, as he is now too injured to work himself. The plot thickens and the mystery deepens as you wonder just how Jarrod is pulling these murders off, and the answer is actually quite shocking.
I enjoyed House of Wax as a great showcase for Vincent Price's skills as a performer and leading man, as well as the intriguing concept. It's one of the earliest uses of 3-D in a movie, though the pandering is quite noticeable and unintentionally hilarious at times. Overall, I think horror fans would be wise not to forget this early 50's gem.
House of Wax is a hugely entertaining, and important, film. This was the first color feature film to be distributed in 3-D. It proved to be a huge hit as the film went on to become a major success and boost the career of Vincent Price.
The plot is simple and keeps you entertained. The film smartly used some mystery elements as to who the killer is and if the wax figures could, indeed, be real people. There were some hokey moments, like when the film essentially breaks the fourth wall simply for a 3-D effect. Besides that, it is an engaging horror film that should delight horror fans.
Vincent Price is the main reason to watch this film. He is completely mesmerizing to watch and doesn't go too over-the-top, like he would do in later horror features. He lights up every scene he's in and steals the show from everybody. The rest of the cast is great too, all delivering fantastic performances. Also, look out for a young Charles Bronson.
An important film in cinema history that's loads of fun. This is backed by it's simple, yet engaging, plot and Vincent Price's magnetic performance. Horror fans who enjoy the classics should check this one out.