Professor Henry Jarrod is a true artist whose wax sculptures are lifelike. He specializes in historical tableau's such a Marie Antoinette or Joan of Arc. His business partner, Matthew Burke, needs some of his investment returned to him and pushes Jarrod to have more lurid exposes like a chamber of horrors. When Jarrod refuses, Burke set the place alight destroying all of his beautiful work in the hope of claiming the insurance. Jarrod is believed to have died in the fire but he unexpectedly reappears some 18 months later when he opens a new exhibit. This time, his displays focus on the macabre but he has yet to reproduce his most cherished work, Marie Antoinette. When he meets his new assistant's beautiful friend, Sue Allen, he knows he's found the perfect model - only unbeknown to anyone, he has a very particular way of making his wax creations. Written by
Warner Brothers' restoration of "House of Wax" for a 3D Blu-ray release cost $300,000. The original negatives were unusable because of water damage and the "Warnerphonic" stereo soundtrack no longer exists. See more »
It's obvious that the "wax" in the cauldron is actually colored water - it doesn't congeal when it hits cooler surfaces, as real wax would do! Further, wax doesn't contain water and therefore, steam wouldn't rise from the surface. Hot wax doesn't put forth any vapor or the like...until it's overheated and begins to burn & smoke like other oil-based materials. See more »
[Sue is helping Cathy get ready]
Pull it tighter Sue, pull it tighter, I want a waist like Anna Held.
If I pull it any tighter you're not going to be able to breath.
Oh that's alright, I don't need much breath anyway, as my late friend Matty used to say, if a girl don't watch her figure the men won't.
Matty? Wasn't that the man you were going to marry?
Yes but he hung himself instead.
Oh Matty was such a card.
Well where's your new friend going to take you tonight?
To the Hauffman ...
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Ostensibly a shocker and a spectacle, 'House of Wax' is one of the great films about films. It works brilliantly as a horror, one of the few films to reek of dread and death; some of the grisly images (Jarrod's partner hanging down an elevator shaft, later exhibited in the museum) are inspired; the suspense sequences combine eerie visual beauty with fundamental sexual fears (the film's treatment of independent women in a patriarchal world is very astute in the housewife 50s). Vincent Price's performance as a man who can only feel alive with the dead is very moving.
But 'Wax''s self-reflexivity is unprecedented in Hollywood films since the silents. It is a film using a novel spectacle (3-D) to encourage greater realism, concentrating on gruesome sensation. The film is about a museum, also called House of Wax, also a novel spectacle, also more realistic, and also gruesomely sensationalist. The film's artifice is always prominent, most violently with the ping-pong man, bridging the gap between film and audience by assailing us. What we are doing - watching a House of Wax - is what the characters are doing. And we know what happens to THEM...
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