7.1/10
15,635
141 user 71 critic

House of Wax (1953)

GP | | Horror | 25 April 1953 (USA)
Trailer
2:02 | Trailer
An associate burns down a wax museum with the owner inside, but he survives only to become vengeful and murderous.

Director:

André De Toth (as Andre de Toth)

Writers:

Crane Wilbur (screenplay), Charles Belden (story)
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Popularity
4,036 ( 4,656)
1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Vincent Price ... Prof. Henry Jarrod
Frank Lovejoy ... Det. Lt. Tom Brennan
Phyllis Kirk ... Sue Allen
Carolyn Jones ... Cathy Gray
Paul Picerni ... Scott Andrews
Roy Roberts ... Matthew Burke
Angela Clarke ... Mrs. Andrews
Paul Cavanagh ... Sidney Wallace
Dabbs Greer ... Sgt. Jim Shane
Charles Bronson ... Igor (as Charles Buchinsky)
Reggie Rymal ... The Barker
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Stars: Vincent Price, Sebastian Cabot, Brett Halsey
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

UNLIKE ANYTHING YOU'VE SEEN BEFORE! (original print ad - all caps) See more »

Genres:

Horror

Certificate:

GP | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Phyllis Kirk tried to turn the film down. Since she was under contract with Warner Bros, Kirk had no choice but to appear in this picture. That didn't stop her from complaining about the gig. "I bitched and moaned and ... [said] that I wasn't interested in becoming the Fay Wray of my time," Kirk confessed. Another bone of contention was the 3D format, which she regarded as a "gimmick." But despite these reservations, Kirk decided that playing ball would be preferable to getting suspended. "And incidentally, I went on to have a lot of fun making House of Wax," she admitted. See more »

Goofs

During a fight at the beginning of the movie, at 00:10:50, you can clearly see Burke not actually hitting Jarrod, but he still acts as he did. See more »

Quotes

Prof. Henry Jarrod: People say they can see my Marie Antoinette breathe; that her breast rises and falls. Look at her eyes. They follow you where ever you go. She's very real to me.
Bruce Allison: You know her eyes do follow you.
Prof. Henry Jarrod: They're made of glass, more's the pity, the exact size and color of the original. They're inserted into the sockets from inside by way of the hollow neck before the head is attached to the body.
Prof. Henry Jarrod: [speaking to the figure of Marie Antoinette] Forgive me, my dear, for discussing your intimate secrets.
Prof. Henry Jarrod: [...]
See more »

Alternate Versions

Released in Japan in the short-lived VHD format in 3-D. This disc has been widely copied to make bootleg tapes and DVDs. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Scared Shrekless (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

On the Rue de la Paix
(uncredited)
Music by Werner R. Heymann
Danced by the can-can dancers
See more »

User Reviews

 
Is this movie as much fun in 2D?
24 January 1999 | by VarlaamSee all my reviews

Perhaps I've been lucky. I've only seen this film twice in the past 15 years, but both times were in 3D, the second time last night. The crowd just loved it, with a big round of applause at the end.

The paddle ball scene is a highlight, but the reprise of the paddle ball is even more hilarious. It's completely over the top, and helps to create the carnival atmosphere that makes the film so effective in a large group.

The really dramatic 3D effects in this film are played for laughs, and I think that's one of the keys to its overall success. Director André De Toth treats the gimmick as a gimmick, and doesn't try to get more out of it than that. Hitchcock, in "Dial M For Murder", tried to use the technology for dramatic effect, but that was a complete failure. The gimmick gets in the way of real drama. The attempted murder of Grace Kelly in "Dial M" is more shocking in 2D. In 3D, you're completely jolted out of your involvement in the scene when Grace's grasping hand comes lunging halfway out into the audience at you.

In "House of Wax", the effect found its real home, a melodramatic thriller, played by everyone with tongue firmly in cheek.

De Toth composes his shots really nicely, I think. There's some foregrounding of chandeliers and other props, but never too much. He mostly holds back on the effect until he can make the best use of it -- the paddle ball, the can-can dancer's round bottom, the bust of Charles Bronson at the end. There is one great 3D thrill, the shot where Bronson, playing Vincent Price's evil mute assistant, has to grapple with policeman Frank Lovejoy. Bronson appears to leap out of the audience and onto the screen; it's an unexpected moment, and a real treat.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

25 April 1953 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Wax Works See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$23,750,000

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$23,750,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Stereo (WarnerPhonic/RCA) (3 channels)

Color:

Color (WarnerColor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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