8 February 2004 | boris-26
When horror films were fun for everybody!
HOUSE OF WAX established Vincent Price as a horror film icon. He's never hammy here. He's best when describing gruesome details (like torture or murder) with a slight grin, as if he's building to a punchline. Crane Wilbur's screenplay has well researched details (regarding how wax sculpting works, the effects of chemical burns for example) improves on the 1933 original. Here Vincent Price plays Henry Jerrod, a wax sculptor whose first try at a wax museum meets the same infernal end as Atwill's museum in the first film. 12 years later, Jerrod opens a new museum. One of his intern sculptors dates a model, Sue (Phyllis Kirk) who is hounded by a mysterious man with a distorted face. In the original film version, made in 1933, Fay Wray plays a beautiful, but uninteresting damsel in distress. Phyllis Kirk fills Fay Wray's part here, and man, is she even more boring! But don't worry, you have plenty of Vincent to make this DVD worthwhile. It's easy to find in a bit part, young Charles Bronson (billed here as Charles Buchinsky) as one of Jerrod's s interns. HOUSE OF WAX's most famous element is that it was made in 3-D. This new gimmick, meant to lure television viewers back to the box office was novel, but it had it's kinks. (Warner Brothers improved the process a year later with the 3-D release of Hitchcock's DIAL M FOR MURDER, and yet another period horror film, PHANTOM OF THE RUE MORGUE.) The most amusing 3-D moment in HOUSE OF WAX has almost nothing to do with the story. A carnival barker, (played with crowd-pleasing energy by Reggie Rymal) constantly whacks a paddle-ball outside the wax museum, while heralding the museum's opening night thrills. He faces the camera (meaning us) and says `You! With the popcorn. Hold still.' and he proceeds to repeatingly whack the ball at the camera. HOUSE OF WAX is a lot of fun, and was a big hit at the time. The DVD does not come with a 3-D Process, but it does come with coverage of HOUSE OF WAX's Hollywood Premier. It's attended by Bela Lugosi and friend, Jack Warner, and Ronald Reagan (See, even Presidents watch horror movies!)