House of Wax (1953 film)

House of Wax (1953 film)

Infobox Film | name = House of Wax

caption = House of Wax Original Film Poster
director = André De Toth
producer = Bryan Foy
writer = Charles S. Belden (play)
Crane Wilbur (screenwriter)
starring =Vincent Price
Frank Lovejoy
Phyllis Kirk
Carolyn Jones
Charles Bronson
music = David Buttolph
cinematography = Bert Glennon
J. Peverell Marley
Lathrop B. Worth
editing = Rudi Fehr
distributor = Warner Bros.
released = April 25, 1953
runtime = 88 min.
language = English
budget = $658,000 (estimated)
amg_id = 1:23367
imdb_id = 0045888

"House of Wax" is a 1953 American horror film starring Vincent Price. It is a remake of 1933's "Mystery of the Wax Museum" without the comic relief featured in the earlier film, and was directed by André De Toth. The 1953 "House of Wax" was an early example of the 3-D film craze of the early 1950s.

Plot summary

Professor Henry Jarrod (Vincent Price) is a devoted wax figure sculptor with a museum in 1910s New York. When his financial partner Matthew Burke (Roy Roberts) demands more sensational exhibits to increase profits, Jarrod refuses. In retaliation, Burke deliberately sets the museum on fire, intending to claim the insurance money. He fights off Jarrod in the process, and splashes kerosene over his body, leaving him to die in the fire. Miraculously, Jarrod survives with severe injuries, and builds a new House of Wax with help from threatening deaf-mute sculptor, Igor (Charles Bronson).

The museum's popular "Chamber of Horrors" showcases both famous crimes and more recent ones, including the murder of Jarrod's former business partner by a cloaked, disfigured killer. Burke's fiancée, Cathy Gray (Carolyn Jones) is also killed. But when Cathy’s friend, Sue Allen (Phyllis Kirk), visits the museum, she makes a discovery that leads to the horrifying truth behind the House of Wax - that all of the waxworks are the wax-coated bodies of Jarrod's victims. Allen herself almost becomes an exhibit, but in the end it is the disfigured Jarrod who falls into the waxworks.


Stereoscopic 3-D was an alternative technology (like Cinemascope and Cinerama) used by 1950s studios attempting to compete with the new threat of television. Just over 50 titles were released in the 3-D process during its 2-1/2 year heyday. "House of Wax " was always shown in dual interlocked 35 mm projection with polarized glasses. The film was re-released in the period of 1975 through 1980 in both single strip 35mm Stereovision 3-D and in Stereovision's pioneering 70mm 3-D process, where it played in major venues like Grauman's Chinese Theater, in Hollywood, and the huge Boston Music Hall (seating 4300 patrons).

"House of Wax", originally titled "The Wax Works", was Warner Bros. answer to the 3-D hit "Bwana Devil", which had been released the previous November. Seeing something big in 3-D's future, WB contracted the same company, Natural Vision, run by the Gunzberg Brothers, Julian and Milton, to shoot the new feature. The film is ultimately a remake of the studio's 1933 film, "The Mystery of the Wax Museum", which in itself was written and based on Charles Belden's three-act play, "The Wax Works".

Among the scenes featured in the film that make the best use of 3-D are a museum fire, a paddleball man, and can-can girls. Ironically, the director De Toth was blind in one eye, and unable to experience stereo vision or the 3-D effects. “It’s one of the great Hollywood stories,” Price recalled. “When they wanted a director for [a 3-D] film, they hired a man who couldn’t see 3-D at all! Andre de Toth was a very good director, but he really was the wrong director for 3-D. He’d go to the rushes and say, ‘Why is everybody so excited about this?’ It didn’t mean anything to him. But he made a good picture, a good thriller. He was largely responsible for the success of the picture. The 3-D tricks just happened—there weren’t a lot of them. Later on, they threw everything at everybody.” []

A 2005 remake starred Elisha Cuthbert and Chad Michael Murray, and had a significantly altered plot.

Main cast

* Vincent Price — Professor Henry Jarrod
* Frank Lovejoy — Lt. Tom Brennan
* Phyllis Kirk — Sue Allen
* Carolyn Jones — Cathy Gray
* Roy Roberts — Matthew Burke
* Paul Picerni — Scott Andrews
* Paul Cavanagh — Sidney Wallace
* Charles Bronson (credited as Charles Buchinsky) — Igor

External links


* [ House of Wax 3-D Expo: Q&A with Actor Charles Picerni] at [ Hollywood Gothique]
* [ "Dangerous Guillotine Sequence On Set Argument"]

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