House of Wax (1953)(Warner Bros)

House of Wax is a 1953 American horror film starring Vincent Price. Director André De Toth’s remake of Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933) was the first 3-D film of the 3-D craze of the early 1950s.

Professor Henry Jarrod (Vincent Price) is a devoted wax figure sculptor for his museum in 1910s NYC. When his financial partner, Matthew Burke (Roy Roberts), demands more sensational exhibits to increase profits, Jarrod refuses. In retaliation, Burke torches the museum for the insurance money, leaving Jarrod for dead. Miraculously, Jarrod survives (though his hands and legs are rendered useless) and builds a new House of Wax with help from threatening deaf-mute sculptor, Igor (Charles Bronson).

The museum’s popular "Chamber of Horrors" showcases both famous crimes and more recent ones, like the murder of Jarrod's former business partner by a cloaked, disfigured killer. Burke's fiancée, Cathy Gray (Carolyn Jones), is also attacked. But when Cathy’s friend, Sue Allen (Phyllis Kirk), visits the museum, she makes a discovery that leads to the horrifying truth behind the House of Wax.

Stereoscopic 3-D was an alternative technology (like Cinemascope and Cinerama) used by 1950s studios attempting to compete with the new threat of television. Just over 50 titles were released in the 3-D process during its 2-1/2 year heyday. House of Wax was always shown in dual interlocked 35 mm projection with polarized glasses. The film was re-released in the period of 1975 through 1980 in both single strip 35mm Stereovision 3-D and in Stereovision's pioneering 70mm 3-D process, where it played in major venues like Grauman's Chinese Theater, in Hollywood, and the huge Boston Music Hall (seating 4300 patrons).

House of Wax, originally titled The Wax Works, was Warner Bros. answer to the 3-D hit, Bwana Devil, which had been released the previous November. Seeing something big in 3-D's future, WB contracted the same company, Natural Vision, run by the Gunzberg Brothers, Julian and Milton, to shoot the new feature. The film is ultimately a remake of the studio's 1933 film, The Mystery of the Wax Museum, which in itself was written and based on Charles Belden's three-act play, The Wax Works.

The title was borrowed for a very different story line, as a modern film remake starring Elisha Cuthbert and Chad Michael Murray, released in 2005.

House of Wax is without a doubt one of the most effective horror films produced in the 1950s'. Price is at the top of his game in this one, as a crippled sculptor who finds an easy short cut to create wax figures of histories greatest beauties. What a better way to create life-like figures than to kidnap local woman and encase them in wax?

The climax is of the film is an eerie affair with fire consuming melting wax figures ala Raiders of the Lost Ark. A chilling effect to say the least.

Also of note is a great cameo by Carolyn Jones (The Addams Family - Morticia) as a ditsy blond who becomes one of the first victims.

A true classic not to be missed!

House of Wax (1953)
Warner Bros

Directed By: André De Toth
Produced By: Bryan Foy
Written By: Charles S. Belden (play) / Crane Wilbur (screenwriter)

Vincent Price - Professor Henry Jarrod
Frank Lovejoy - Lt. Tom Brennan
Phyllis Kirk - Sue Allen
Carolyn Jones - Cathy Gray
Roy Roberts - Matthew Burke
Paul Picerni - Scott Andrews
Paul Cavanagh - Sidney Wallace
Charles Bronson (as Charles Buchinsky) - Igor

Release Date: April 25, 1953
Running Time: 88 min.
Language: English
Budget: $658,000 (estimated)

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