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The Wax Mask (1997)

M.D.C. - Maschera di cera (original title)
Unrated | | Horror | 4 April 1997 (Italy)
Paris, 1900: a couple are horribly murdered by a masked man with a metal claw who rips their hearts out. The sole survivor and witness to the massacre is a young girl. Twelve years later in... See full summary »



(story), (screenplay) | 3 more credits »
1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Boris Volkoff
Sonia Lafont
Riccardo Serventi Longhi ...
Andrea Conversi
Gabriella Giorgelli ...
Aunt Francesca
Umberto Balli ...
Valery Valmond ...
Gianni Franco ...
Inspector Palazzi
Antonello Murru ...
Museum Caretaker
Luca (as Daniele Auber)
Romano Iannelli ...
Rosa Pianeta ...
Anna's Mother
Sonia Topazio ...
Massimo Vanni ...
Aldo Massasso ...
Inspector Lanvin
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Paris, 1900: a couple are horribly murdered by a masked man with a metal claw who rips their hearts out. The sole survivor and witness to the massacre is a young girl. Twelve years later in Rome a new wax museum is opened, whose main attractions are lifelike recreations of gruesome murder scenes. A young man bets that he will spend the night in the museum but is found dead the morning after. Soon, people start disappearing from the streets of Rome and the wax museum halls begin filling with new figures... Written by Giancarlo Cairella <vertigo@imdb.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Unrated | See all certifications »





Release Date:

4 April 1997 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

The Wax Mask  »

Box Office


$3,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

ITL 219,896,000 (Italy) (4 April 1997)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Originally intended by Dario Argento as a Comeback for colleague (though not friend) Lucio Fulci. Unfortunately, only a few weeks before filming was about to begin, Fulci died and on short notice, the directing job was handed over to special effects expert Sergio Stivaletti. See more »


At 1:04:12, Volkoff put a pin through the picture of Sonia he just clipped. Seven seconds later, as Alex watch him secretly through the door, he does exactly the same action with the pin. See more »


References House of Wax (1953) See more »


La donna è mobile
from "Rigoletto"
Libretto by Francesco Maria Piave
Music by Giuseppe Verdi
See more »

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User Reviews

A Fantastic Revival of Italian Gothic Horror
21 October 2010 | by See all my reviews

Sergi Stivaletti has primarily been active as a special effects guy for such brilliant directors as Dario Argento and Michele Soavi. Among many other projects he did the amazing special effects for masterpieces like Argento's "Opera" and Soavi's "Dellamorte Dellamore". As a director, Stivaletti aims at reviving the most elegant of Horror sub-genres, the wonderful genre of Gothic Horror cinema (the greatest specimen of which came from Italy in the 1960s). His two directed films "M.D.C. - Maschera Di Cera" (1997) and "I Tre Volti Del Terrore" (2004) are both Gothic tales. I haven't seen "I Tre Volti Del Terrore" so far (but sure will). With "Maschera Di Cera" being the only Stivaletti-directed film I've seen so far, I can say that his attempt to revive Gothic Horror greatness has been a full success. "M.D.C." has very excellent exit criteria to begin with - the film was scripted by Italian Horror deity Lucio Fulci, adapted from story written by Italian Horror deity Dario Argento. Fulci and Argento guarantee greatness, and director Stivaletti truly made the greatest out of it. "M.D.C." is an incredibly creepy and atmospheric, thoroughly suspenseful, gory, beautiful and imaginative wholesome of elegant Gothic terror. While the film adapts the atmospheric greatness of 60s Gothic Horror films, it is also imaginative and inventive, and Stivaletti's talent for effects fits fantastically in the gloomy Gothic ambiance. The film was released only shorty after Lucio Fulci's death in 1996, and is therefore dedicated to the master.

Paris, December 31st 1900: A little girl hiding under her bed witnesses her parents being brutally torn to pieces by a masked, metal-clawed killer. Rome, twelve years later: A man apparently dies of fright when sneaking into a Wax museum by nighttime for a bet. On the day he is found, a beautiful young woman begins to work at the museum, in which artistic genius Boris Volkoff (Robert Hossein) displays gruesome scenes with wax figures. The young beauty is Sonia (Romina Mondello), the girl who had witnessed her parents' murder twelve years earlier. It isn't long before people begin to disappear from the streets of Rome...

Storywise, "Maschera Di Cera" is sort of a Gory Italian 90s version of the Vincent Price classic "House of Wax"; that is not to say, however, that the film has no own ideas. As mentioned above, the film continues the Gothic tradition in a wonderful and imaginative manner. The themes combine a gruesome murder series with mad science (a combination that has often worked wonderfully in the past). The film's the early 20th-century settings, especially the creepy Wax museum create a wonderfully gloomy atmosphere; demented characters, an iron-clawed killer, weird machinery and loads of very well-made gore ensure a wonderful time for any lover of the macabre. The yummy leading actress Romina Mondello must be one of the most gorgeous women who ever blessed the screen with their presence, and her lovable and vulnerable leading character Sonia is easy to be scared for. All cast members deliver good performances, Robert Hossein, Gianni Franco, the creepy-looking Umberto Balli and the ravishing Valery Valmond, who plays a prostitute, are particularly worth mentioning. Besides immense creepiness and suspense, sublime visual elegance, terrific effects and bloody gore, "M.D.C." also offers tasteful female nudity on several occasions, which, of course, is more than welcome. The remotely Giallo-esquire mystery about the killer's identity isn't really a one, but that doesn't really matter since it doesn't even slightly lessen the suspense. The score is fantastic and even intensifies the gloomy atmosphere.

"M.D.C." is a film that proves that great Gothic Horror films can still be made (I'm aware that 13 years have passed since, but the majority of Great Gothic Horror was made in the 60s, 70s and earlier). Sergio Stivaletti must be saluted for creating such a wonderfully gloomy film that must not be missed by my fellow fans of Italian Horror. 8.5/10

6 of 7 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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