Monday, April 13, 2009

House of Wax (1953)

Remake of "Mystery of the Wax Museum".
Remade as "House of Wax" (2005).

Vincent Price plays a genius in the world of sculpting wax.  He has a wonderful wax museum, which he opened with a partner.  Profits have not been well of late, so his partner decides to burn the museum down and collect the insurance.  Price does not like the idea, since the wax figures are his life's work.  The partner does it anyway, leaving Price in the flames.

Price survived the fire and has opened a new wax museum.  His hands can no longer sculpt.  Instead he finds models that he likes and kills them.  He then dips their bodies in wax and puts them on display.  

Terrorizing the streets of New York is a grotesque figure of a man.  His face is badly burned and he is dressed in all black.  He is the one doing the killing.  During the climax of the film, you find out that this monster is in fact Vincent Price.  

The problem that I have with this film is that when Price is the burned monster, you see his face the entire time.  During the climax, the heroine of the film punches Price's  "normal" face.  His face (made of wax) falls off to reveal the monster that has been terrorizing people.  If the monster was kept in the shadows and the audience did not know what he looked like, it would have made a much more terrifying scene.  That is the way it was filmed in the original and it really was frightening.  

Other than that, this version of the film is superior to the rest.  Price is great, as he always is.  The film is shot wonderfully.  The best scene of the film is when the monster chases the heroine through the dark candlelit streets of New York.  The cinematography was excellent.

"House of Wax" was filmed in 3D.  I like 3D usually, but not when things are done just for the effect.  In "House of Wax" there is a man who is a sort of carnival barker in front of the museum.  He has a ping pong paddle and keeps hitting the ball toward the screen.  This scene lasts way too long, just to show off the 3D effect.  I don't like that.  The rest of the 3D effects looked like they would have been fine.

This version of "House of Wax" is the most famous and rightfully so.  It is the best of the three.

B  I recommend it.

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