Monday, September 5, 2011

House of Wax (1953)

Professor Jarrod (Vincent Price) is an eccentric artist who runs a mildly successful wax museum. He speaks of his creations as if they were living, breathing people. He lines up a new business partner because his old wants out, but his old partner can't wait. So he burns down the museum for the insurance money. Prof dies in the fire.

After a hair-brained hottie is murdered and her body is stolen from the morgue, the dead Professor Jarrod re-emerges to start a new museum, one that panders to the public's taste for the macabre. Hotties roommate (and new intern's fiancee) notices an usually strong resemblance between her and the new Joan of Arc exhibit. Nobody takes her seriously.

Hair-brained hottie's roommate was played by Phyllis Kirk (no relation to the Captain). She was a delightful damsel in distress here and would go on in four years to be a pitiful excuse of a Nora Charles in the TV version of The Thin Man. Want another pointless Star Trek reference? One of the Can-Can girls would go on to play Yeoman Janice Rand. One of Jarrod's handymen struck me as very familiar. Turns out he was a young Charles Bronson.

This is a remake of 1933's Mystery of the Wax Museum, and the disk menu said that version was on side two, but it wasn't. Same thing happened with another movie in the set.

This, I believe, was Price's first horror role. At least his first staring role. And it's a good one. Low budget, I suppose, but well made. It was filmed in 3D, which is weird because the director had only one eye. It wasn't 3D on my end so I can't say how effective having a yo-yo flung in my face worked out.

Somewhat elevated and understated in style, much like The Fly, I liked it about as much. Won't scare anybody, or surprise them very much, but it won't bore you either. AMRU 3.5.

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