This was a pilot for a period detective program from Warner Bros. entitled "House of Wax", padded out with various gimmicks including the red "fear flash" and "horror horn", several added sequences and guest stars with a larger screen in mind because it was considered too intense at that time for television. See more »
Horror Delight Despite the Fear Flasher and Horror Horn
This is above all a fun horror film about two criminologists in the late 19th century Baltimore area(one decidedly English - Wilfred Hyde-White and the other decidedly Italian - Cesare Danova)working in a wax museum and uncovering crimes for/with the police. Apparently it was to be a pilot for a television series, and it is very unfortunate it never progressed that far. Hyde-White is always a treat and Danova is rather good too. This story deals with capturing Jason Cravatte - a local aristocrat with a fetish for girls in wedding gowns - dead or alive. Patrick O'Neal gives one of his best screen performances in the role of this psychotic, deranged killer who loses his hand and replaces it with all kinds of cutlery(ax, sword, scalpel, etc...) The film also boast the two gimmicks of the Fear Flasher when the screen will flash with green to let the viewer know something terrifying is about to happen and is preceded by the Horror Horn announcing its arrival. We are told in the beginning of the film that this will occur four times and none of those times are scary in the least bit. What makes this film work is the acting by Hyde-White, Danova, O'Neal, and people like Wayne Rogers as a constable, Jose Rene Ruiz as Pepe the dwarfish assistant, a cameo by Tony Curtis helps out, and all the acting is workmanlike and credible. Hy Averback , a television director of repute and ability, gives the film a very stylish feel with its Victorian-like atmosphere, swirling fogs, and seedy locales when needed. The wax museum itself is indeed impressive as well as is the denouement of the film. This "little" film - judging by its limited audience - is much better than one might at first expect given the gimmicks and story.
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