The Wax Mask (1997)

Unrated   |    |  Horror

The Wax Mask (1997) Poster

Paris, 1900: a couple are horribly murdered by a masked man with a metal claw who rips their hearts out. The sole survivor and witness to the massacre is a young girl. Twelve years later in... See full summary »


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15 December 2010 | gavin6942
| Stivaletti Has Some Real Directing Potential
Paris December 31, 1900: a grisly mass murder. And then in Rome, 12 years later... a young man accepts a dare to stay overnight in a spooky wax museum. Something not quite right is going on there, but this man's stay is only the beginning.

Written by Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci, two masters who were more known to be at odds than to collaborate. Director of photography, special effects and directing all by Sergio Stivaletti. Dedicated to Lucio Fulci, the Italian horror master.

The film opens with a spectacular moving camera shot, and blood-spattered bodies strewn about. This sets quite a tone, and it's any wonder this film is not better known. Followed by a shot of black-gloved hands, a staple of Argento's work.

The men's hairstyles seem to be quite odd... what I will call the Italian mullet. One of these mullet men named Alex (Umberto Balli) looks like the cross between Bill Maher and Julian Sands. The woman who plays Sonia Lafont (Romina Mondello), though, is not only stylish, but incredibly beautiful in an exotic but innocent way. And somehow they got away with showing a preteen girl topless, which may be okay in Italy, but seems strange not being cut out when dubbed for American audiences.

Obviously, some of the ground here has been covered in other wax museum films -- notably "House of Wax" with Vincent Price, where they seem to have got much inspiration. But there are new surprises, and an excess of gore -- including a robotic hand that rips a heart straight from a chest! Add in some"Crawlspace"-esquire voyeurism, and voila! The film seems to drag on a bit longer than necessary, which is more a pacing issue than anything (it runs a modest 91 minutes). That aside, it is a good addition to the modern Italian horror film, with Sergio Stivaletti proving himself a capable director. I almost want to say on the level of Michele Soavi, but that would be going too far.

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