Movie Reviews

Movie Review – “The House of Wax” (1953)

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If you didn’t like creepy wax replicas before, you’ll be horrified after watching this movie!

“House of Wax” tells the tale of Professor Henry Jarrod (Vincent Price), a man devoted to recreating famous people through wax sculptures, such as Joan of Arc, John Wilkes Booth and Marie Antoinette. Jarrod is so obsessed with this that he even talks to his sculptures, and he claims they talk back to him. He has a museum where everyone can see his sculptures, but business has been slow lately and his business partner demands he do something to bring in a bigger crowd, something that would shock the audience. But Jarrod believes in the natural beauty of his sculptures and he doesn’t need to use murder or torture to bring in a crowd.

But the business partner brings up the point that each of Jarrod’s wax dummies are insured and that if they burned down the museum the two of them would be rich. Jarrod is against the idea, insisting that these people are his family and brawl ensues. Jarrod is knocked out and the building is consumed with fire. The waxed people begin to melt, their clothes and hair going up in flames and their eyes falling out of their head, and Jarrod is unable to make it out of the burning building.

However, months later, a new wax museum opens up, that showcases terrible murders and grotesque, savage imagery, run by a wheelchair-bound Professor Jarrod, unable to sculpt due to his burned hands.

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This was one of the first films to showcase 3-D, with advertisements all over the place claiming that this would revolutionize the way we watched cinema. As such, there are several shots in throughout the film that pander to the third-dimension, such as a street entertainer who uses two paddle balls that he thrusts at the screen.

Outside of those who are afraid of wax statutes and their eyes that always follow you around, “House of Wax” boasts a creepy Vincent Price performance that showcases multiple types of strange. From the first Professor Jarrod, who thinks of his creations as his family and talks to them like they’ll answer back, to the revived Professor Jarrod, obsessed with the macabre and treating everyone else like wax dummies, even the living. If anything else, watch this film for Vincent Price’s performance.

Overall, “House Of Wax” is a gorgeous horror film, with vibrant colors and an intriguing horror mystery. While most horror films at the time were still in black-and-white, this one takes full advantage of color cinematography. If you’re intrigued by how lifelike Jarrod’s sculptures can get, especially when those eyes follow you where ever you go, check this one out.

Final Grade: A-

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