House of Wax (1953)

Approved  |   |  Crime, Horror  |  25 April 1953 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 11,115 users  
Reviews: 117 user | 81 critic

An associate burns down a wax museum with the owner inside, but he survives only to become vengeful and murderous.


(as Andre de Toth)


(screenplay), (story)
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1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Det. Lt. Tom Brennan
Sue Allen
Cathy Gray
Scott Andrews
Matthew Burke
Angela Clarke ...
Mrs. Andrews
Sidney Wallace
Sgt. Jim Shane
Igor (as Charles Buchinsky)
Reggie Rymal ...
The Barker


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 garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

wax | sculptor | fire | wax museum | morgue | See All (41) »


Beauty and Terror meet in your every thrill of its story comes off the screen right at you in NaturalVision 3 dimension See more »


Crime | Horror


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Parents Guide:





Release Date:

25 April 1953 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Wax Works  »

Box Office


$658,000 (estimated)


$23,750,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| (WarnerPhonic/RCA) (3 channels)



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


The alcoholic sculptor was a heroin addict in the original version of the film, Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933), but that had to be changed for the remake because the Production Code forbade any mention of drug addiction. (Ironically, a character played by Vincent Price had got away with confessing to drug addiction in Dragonwyck (1946), filmed in 1945, eight years before "House of Wax.") See more »


During the majority of the film Prof. Henry Jarrod (Vincent Price) looks normal and the skin of his face moves naturally. Near the end, when Sue Allen (Phyllis Kirk) strikes him in the face the wax mask he is wearing shatters, showing that it is hard and inflexible. See more »


Cathy Gray: [Sue is helping Cathy get ready] Pull it tighter Sue, pull it tighter, I want a waist like Anna Held.
Sue Allen: If I pull it any tighter you're not going to be able to breath.
Cathy Gray: 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.
Sue Allen: Matty? Wasn't that the man you were going to marry?
Cathy Gray: Yes but he hung himself instead.
Cathy Gray: Oh Matty was such a card.
Sue Allen: Well where's your new friend going to take you tonight?
Cathy Gray: To the Hauffman ...
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Battle Hymn of the Republic
Music by William Steffe
Lyrics by Julia Ward Howe
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User Reviews

One of the most important films of the 1950s.
31 October 2000 | by (dublin, ireland) – See all my reviews

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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