Synopsis by Hal Erickson
This simplified (but lavish) remake of the 1933 melodrama The Mystery of the Wax Museum was the most financially successful 3-D production of the 1950s. In his first full-fledged "horror" role, Vincent Price plays Prof. Henry Jarrod, the owner of a wax museum, whose partner, Matthew Burke (Roy Roberts), intends to burn the place down for the insurance money. When Jarrod tries to prevent Burke from torching the museum, he himself is trapped in the conflagration. Years pass: though now confined to a wheelchair, Jarrod manages to open up a new museum in New York, boasting the most incredibly lifelike wax statues ever seen. At the same time, a masked prowler has been stalking the city, murdering people and then stealing their bodies from the mortuary. One of the victims is Jarrod's old nemesis Burke; another is Cathy Gray (Carolyn Jones), the roommate of art student Sue Allen (Phyllis Kirk). On a visit to the wax museum, Sue can't help but notice that the wax likeness of Joan of Arc is a dead ringer for her deceased friend Cathy -- while the courtly Jarrod declares joyously that Sue is the living image of Marie Antoinette. Guess where this is going to wind up? Frank Lovejoy and Paul Picerni co-star as the nominal heroes, while Charles Bronson -- still billed as Charles Buchinsky -- is a menacing presence as Jarrod's deaf-mute chief sculptor (appropriately named "Igor"). No opportunity to show off the 3-D process is wasted during House of Wax; the most memorable stereoscopic moments are provided by garrulous "paddle-ball man" Reggie Rymal. Ironically, Andre De Toth, the film's director, had only one good eye, and had to constantly ask his cast and crew if the various 3-D effects had come off properly.
wax-museum, sculpture, arson, burn, fire-disaster, murder, wax, art, craziness, injury, insurance-fraud, investigation
High Artistic Quality