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House of Wax


The Price of excellence.

Rod Lott October 1st, 2013

The first 3-D movie I ever saw was 1953's House of Wax, but in a revival run in the early 1980s. My uncle took me and my brothers to it one night at Northpark Mall, and I recall him having to tie the big glasses on my youngest brother's small head with shoelaces. 

houseofwax

I also recall loving the movie, which continues to this day, especially its famous scene of the paddle ball seemingly bursting through the screen and toward our faces. It's a superb effect lost on previous home-video releases; absent of another theatrical re-release, Warner Bros.' new Blu-ray of House of Wax is as close as you're going to get. (No worries, owners of regular players; the disc also is viewable in 2-D.) 


Vincent Price stars as Henry Jarrod, a wax artist whose extraordinary creations are more precious to him than life itself. When his greedy partner burns down the museum for an insurance scam, Jarrod takes revenge by dressing up not unlike The Shadow, killing people, dipping them in hot wax, and then displaying their corpses for all the world to see in his new, improved Chamber of Horrors.


Although a tad too slow getting started, the Gothic horror classic is one of Price's all-time best films, and creepier than most of today's genre offerings, even with all its vibrant colors. 


Remade in 2005, House of Wax is a remake itself, of 1933's Mystery of the Wax Museum. While fine in its own right, this older Technicolor curio is inferior to House, but thankfully included on this Blu-ray for comparison's sake (as it was with the initial DVD years ago). Although not packaged and sold as a double feature, it's ripe for such viewing. 


The Blu-ray also includes the previous DVD's newsreel and theatrical trailer, so ditch that version and upgrade for this snazzier AV presentation. Plus, new to this release is House of Wax: Unlike Anything You've Seen Before!, an informative, 48-minute documentary in which the likes of Martin Scorsese, Joe Dante and Wes Craven sing the film's praises, as do several film historians, include one who shares something in common with Wax director André De Toth: having only one eye.  —Rod Lott


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