House of Wax

House of Wax

Synopsis of Movie

Vincent Price had years of sophisticated straight man roles before this, but House of Wax let him take off the white gloves, raise the eyebrows, and chew a little horror flick scenery. And in 3-D, no less.

He plays Professor Henry Jarrod, a wax sculptor whose investment partner burns down their museum for the insurance money. Jarrod is presumed dead, but years later, he’s back in action (though disfigured and wheelchair-bound), re-creating all the beloved figures he lost in the fire at a new and improved (though still dank and creepy), gas-lit museum in 1900’s old New York.

Coincidentally, as his new joint fills out with new sculptures, there is a rash of local murders and body-snatchings from the local morgue. Sue, a visitor on the museum’s opening day, notices a striking resemblance between her recently-deceased friend (Carolyn Jones, pre-Addams Family) and the Joan of Arc display. Jarrod ducks Sue’s questions, but does tell her that she would be the perfect Marie Antoinette. He promptly captures the pesky girl and makes his plan to encase her body in a wax replica of the history’s favorite cake-advocate.

This was Warner Brothers' first big-budget 3-D film, based on 1933’s Mystery of the Wax Museum. It was the most financially successful 3-D production of the 1950's, and enjoyed a second wind during the 3-D revival in the 1980’s. Among the most-loved effects here were the vociferous paddleball man (rumored to make a viewer cross-eyed if he watched long enough!), the can-can dancer’s... well, her very "in-your-face" can-can, and the Charles Bronson leaping gag. Good old Chuck plays Igor, Jarrod’s mute henchman assistant (and billed with real name Charles Buchinsky), who scuffles with a policeman and seems to leap out into the audience.

Director André De Toth had only one good eye, incidentally, and frequently had to ask his cast and crew if the various 3-D effects had come off properly. Ask the faked-out theater patrons who were known to shout “down in front!” during the Igor gag because they thought that someone was actually moving around in the front rows, and they’ll tell you that De Toth’s effects were more than convincing.

Movie Release History

1953 - House of Wax

Movie Sub Categories

live-action
horror

Movie Studio

Warner Bros.

Cast

Professor Henry Jarrod  Vincent Price
Lieutenant Tom Brennan  Frank Lovejoy
Sue Allen  Phyllis Kirk
Cathy Gray  Carolyn Jones
Scott Andrews  Paul Picerni
Matthew Burke  Roy Roberts
Mrs. Andrews  Angela Clarke
Sidney Wallace  Paul Cavanagh
Sergeant Jim Shane  Dabbs Greer
Igor  Charles Bronson
Barker  Reggie Rymal
Pompous Man  Oliver Blake
Girlfriend Joanne Brown
Portly Man  Leo Curley
Medical Examiner  Frank Ferguson
Lodger  Darwin Greenfield
Milie Mary Lou Holloway
Lodger  Jack Kenney
Waiter  Lyle Latell
Detective  Richard Lightner
Bit Part  Terry Mitchell
Detective  Jack Mower
Morgue Attendant  Eddie Parkes
Surgeon  Grandon Rhodes
Ma Flanagan  Riza Royce
Bruce Allison  Philip Tonge
Ticket Taker  Merry Townsend
Scrubwoman  Ruth Warren
Bit Part  Ruth Whitney
Bit Part  Trude Wyler
Leon Averill  Nedrick Young

Other Movie Links