House of Wax (1953)

House of Wax (1953), directed by André De Toth.

This remake of Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933) was an early big hit of the 3D craze of the 1950s. The 3D effect is often dramatic but I think mostly exaggerated like images in an old View-Master stereoscope. Still, these are impressive effects.

We have many gimmicks like objects thrown at the viewer and even a paddle-ball expert -- looking straight into the camera -- flinging his projectiles at the audience. I think the best effects are more subtle: glints in the eye, mirrors, and rain on windows.

It's a pretty basic horror-thriller plot, becoming really exciting in the last 20 minutes. The comedy of the original is removed and it is hard to support the remaining seriousness. Vincent Price to the rescue! He could make this sort of thing work.

This was his first horror film; he would not cross over to become a full-time specialist until The Fly (1958). Which was all right; when the new Method style of acting came in actors of the older styles had to become genre performers to get work.


Available on Blu-ray in 3D with an appreciative commentary track by two film scholars.

As an extra the disc includes a standard definition version of Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933). A whole movie is the best kind of extra.