For Reel

House of Wax (1953)
November 4, 2014, 3:46 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: André De Toth
3.5 Stars
House of WaxWhen he set out to make House of Wax, it would seem that director André De Toth didn’t intend to direct a film so much as he did construct a theme park ride. Just as the novelty of moving pictures was mined in the earliest silent films, De Toth is so amused by the concept of 3D that he doesn’t shy away from being obvious and even self-referential with it. In one scene, an entertainer directs the trajectory of a ball and paddle towards the camera while talking directly to the audience (which Vincent Price jokes is just a gimmick to bring the customers in). If that particular kind of attraction is so transparent that it almost spoils the fun, De Toth gets more out of exploiting his most grotesque images–it is as if the film grinds to a halt just to revel in the horror of dozens of melting wax figures in the opening act. The fact that such images are often shot in brightly-lit, colorful settings sets a unique tone for a genre that usually revels in darkness and shadows. While much of the picture falls flat in terms of scares or suspense, the final sequence is effectively disturbing, as is Price as a seemingly dignified gentleman with snark to spare.

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