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House of Wax (1953)

tomatometer

95

Average Rating: 7.5/10
Reviews Counted: 37
Fresh: 35 | Rotten: 2

House of Wax is a 3-D horror delight that combines the atmospheric eerieness of the wax museum with the always chilling presence of Vincent Price.

80

Average Rating: 6.6/10
Critic Reviews: 5
Fresh: 4 | Rotten: 1

House of Wax is a 3-D horror delight that combines the atmospheric eerieness of the wax museum with the always chilling presence of Vincent Price.

audience

72

liked it
Average Rating: 3.3/5
User Ratings: 40,876

My Rating

Movie Info

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

PG,

Drama, Horror, Mystery & Suspense

Crane Wilbur, Charles S. Belden

Aug 5, 2003

Warner Bros. Pictures

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All Critics (37) | Top Critics (5) | Fresh (35) | Rotten (2) | DVD (13)

An intermittently gripping shocker.

October 17, 2011 Full Review Source: TIME Magazine
TIME Magazine
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Casting is competent, Vincent Price is capital as the No. 1 menace.

October 7, 2008 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The effects are done with playfulness, zest, and some imagination (they range from a barker batting paddleballs in your face to a murderer leaping from the row in front of you), making this the most entertaining of the gimmick 3-Ds.

September 24, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Dimly we foresee movie audiences embalmed in three-dimensional wax and sound.

March 25, 2006 Full Review Source: New York Times | Comment (1)
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

De Toth brings off one classic sequence with Kirk fleeing through the gaslit streets pursued by a shadowy figure in a billowing cloak.

February 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

House of Wax has gone down in the books as a classic, but now, finally, it can be appreciated in the form it was always meant to be seen in. There is no need to ever watch it in 2D again.

October 8, 2013 Full Review Source: Aisle Seat
Aisle Seat

de Toth used foreground objects and actors' entrances and exits to flaunt the effects of depth.

October 7, 2013 Full Review Source: People Magazine
People Magazine

[A] glorious-looking slice of gothic horror, which also helped establish Vincent Price as a horror icon.

October 7, 2013 Full Review Source: Radio Times
Radio Times

Unlike many 3D films from the original push in the 1950s, House of Wax stands on its own without the gimmick.

October 4, 2013 Full Review Source: 7M Pictures
7M Pictures

It's a heckuva lot of fun.

October 10, 2012 Full Review Source: Creative Loafing
Creative Loafing

Oh-so-delightfully creepy.

November 23, 2008
ColeSmithey.com

An extremely effective "unmasking" scene at the climax ... stands as one of the great shock moments in horror cinema.

July 23, 2008 Full Review Source: ESplatter
ESplatter

House of Wax was stunningly directed by Andre de Toth who used the new 3-D process to its fullest potential without bogging down the narrative with too many 'gee-look-what-I-can-do' tricks.

September 24, 2007 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

A film in which just about every technical and dramatic gambit has been judged to near perfection.

September 24, 2007 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

Price brings a touch of creepy class to this otherwise middling B-level horror story.

June 25, 2005 Full Review Source: Lessons of Darkness
Lessons of Darkness

Vincent Price is truly creepy, hammy and eerie in this role.

May 24, 2005 Full Review Source: About.com
About.com

House of Wax is not particularly scary or suspenseful, but it is a lot of fun and effectively creates an atmosphere of dread using bright colors and shadows.

May 16, 2005 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

Arguably the best of all 3-D movies.

February 20, 2005 Full Review Source: eFilmCritic.com
eFilmCritic.com

Despite Price's presence this is little more than a footnote in American horror cinema.

March 16, 2004 Full Review Source: Film4 | Comment (1)

...the film is still a crowd pleaser, its dusky shadows, turn-of-the-century setting, menacing villain, and bizarre museum as creepy as ever.

August 8, 2003 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

Audience Reviews for House of Wax

So many things in film production changed after this film was made. Not only that but the way films are distributed, it gave Vincent Price a newfound purpose as a horror movie villain in his first leading role, and this was the first color, 3D film to have its own soundtrack. A lot of the general appeal and lore that surrounds this film had to do with it being the first commercially viable picture to feature 3D, and make a giant deal about it. There are included scenes just for the use of the technology, including a talented man with a yo-yo outside the establishment as it opens, who is there without purpose, but entertains. The premise is based on a melodramatic thirties' film with the same plot. Set in 19th century New York, the film follows a man named Jarrod (Price) who sculpts beautiful wax figures for a museum that isn't doing so well. His friend and fellow investor wants to burn the museum and get a large insurance payout, which he does to Jarrod's horror. In that scene the fire engulfs the figures that Jarrod has longingly described with the sensationalism of a creator, and the sweetness of an artist. He does not die from the fire, and later resurfaces to start another museum. At the same time there's a brutish deformed man running around the city stealing corpses, and terrorizing Sue Allen (Kirk) who witnessed him running from the scene of her roommate's murder. There isn't as much murder, mayhem, and disfigurement as one would expect from a so-called horror film. More apt a description would be to say that this is a murder mystery with a very frightening villain. It has all the appeal of later Vincent Price films, and it's easy to see why this film launched the rest of his career as a horror icon. It also has a very high production value, period sets and clothing, and actual and very well made wax figures. Because it's so well-made there's definitely another layer of appreciation from the audience, and it makes the freakishness of seeing Charles Bronson as a mute henchmen, even more entertaining.
November 5, 2013
FrizzDrop

Super Reviewer

Such an enjoyable and interesting film which kept me gripped and involved as I tried to figure out the twists and turns as they happened on screen. A brilliant cast which really does the characters justice, especially Price, Gray and Picerni. Definitely watch again.
December 26, 2011
StarCrossedVoyager

Super Reviewer

Simple but effective, look for Charles Bronson in a support role.
November 15, 2011
DragonEyeMorrison
Tsubaki Sanjuro

Super Reviewer

    1. Prof. Henry Jarrod: My creations have some merit, I suspect. But in bringing back to life the lovely Marie Antoinette I have done my best work.
    2. Sidney Wallace: Ohhhh, I've never seen anything so exquisite.
    3. Prof. Henry Jarrod: People say that they can see my Marie Antoinette breathe; that her breast rises and falls. Look at her eyes, they follow you wherever you go. She's very real to me.
    – Submitted by Christopher B (5 months ago)
    1. Prof. Henry Jarrod: It's not easy to shut an actor's mouth.
    – Submitted by Christopher B (5 months ago)
    1. Matthew Burke: The insurance company insisted upon proof of my partner's death.
    2. Cathy Gray: Yes. They always want a corpse.
    – Submitted by Christopher B (5 months ago)
    1. Matthew Burke: No matter how much we loose you must still go on living.
    – Submitted by Christopher B (5 months ago)
View all quotes (4)

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