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Mystery of the Wax Museum Reviews

Page 1 of 5
AJ V

Super Reviewer

September 24, 2011
A very cool movie, I especially love Atwill, he's a favourite of mine, and he does a great job in this movie. The story is really engaging, the special effects are awesome, there are some funny moments, and the ending was interesting too. I just wish that the wax figures could have been creepier like they are in real life. Overall I really liked this movie, though, and I highly recommend it.
rubystevens
rubystevens

Super Reviewer

October 23, 2009
a landmark mystery/horror made by warner brothers, this was later remade (twice) as house of wax. much as i love vincent price, i think this one is superior altho it has a healthy dose of comedy too. after being disfigured in a fire at his london museum, lionel atwill moves to new york and tries to recreate his masterpieces in wax. when bodies start vanishing from the morgue, intrepid reporter glenda farrell is on the case. also starring fay wray as farrell's rommate, who looks a little too much like marie antoinette...this was the last picture from a major studio in the early two color technicolor process
Ryan M
Ryan M

Super Reviewer

July 22, 2011
7.0/10

There is one fatal flaw to "Mystery of the Wax Museum". It does not have the twist that it wants to have. Thanks to the existence of plot synopses and the like, we already know what the big reveal is going to be. That's not to say that the film has a bad ending, but it is underwhelming compared to the fear that we are intended to experience.

Otherwise, the movie still makes for a pretty solid, creepy time. It is thoroughly entertaining. It is engaging. And while it's not really scary, it has a heck of an atmosphere, and that's more than enough. It's probably not as good as its first remake, "House of Wax", but it's still worth seeing just for what it's got; and believe me, it's got plenty. I liked how it looked, how it felt, and pretty much everything else. It was well-acted, somewhat well-written, and with only that one little-big flaw keeping it from absolute greatness.

Ivan Igor, the owner and operator of a wax museum (which he sculpts for), loses his creations to a fire, the source of which was his greedy business partner; whose reason for burning the place was to use the insurance money for himself. Igor was left burn and disfigured both internally and externally after the incident, but it's clear that he's not ready to give up on life.

Twelve years after the destructive fire, Igor re-opens a NEW Wax Museum for the entertainment and admiration of those who like his hard work. But will the wax make a Marie Antoinette? Will the man's "children" live once again? The answers to each question are predictably answered in the end, but I guess it's worth sticking around.

Meanwhile, a reporter-woman investigates the disappearance and possible suicide of a local model. She is given the possibility that maybe it was murder, so she goes as deep as she possibly can with the case. The body is stolen from the morgue in which it resided, which adds to the mystery.

The story is simple in an endearing sense. But what makes the movie work, as I said, is the fact that it redeems itself through atmosphere. It was tense, undeniably creepy, and man, I liked it quite a bit for that. The production is lush, colorful, and the cinematography is at least fairly interesting. I also liked how the film made time for humor and comic relief, which never really consists of stuff that I laughed at, but it made the experience a better one than it needed to be. I enjoyed myself, as much as I possibly could, whilst watching it. And I'm glad I sat through it.

There are better horror movies. There are worse horror movies. I don't recommend this one, per se, but "Mystery of the Wax Museum" is definitely a good thriller if not a good horror movie. It works, as a chiller and a thriller; but I don't know about something that's actually scary. But what is "scary"? I mean, come on; you could do worse. I didn't jump, I didn't cringe, but the film definitely has a lot going for it, and I liked what I saw.

I also would like to take some time to acknowledge the performance of Lionel Atwill, who plays Igor. He is very good in this role. He's one of the finer attractions, of the entire product. And while the film may be a tough sell with this generation of horror fans, you don't need to be an old-timer to appreciate such fine acting. All-in-all, I'd tell you to see this movie only if you like the genre, and if you're willing to accept a flawed ending. I'm eager to watch "House of Wax" now; and I'm hoping that it will be better; because better is...well, better.
September 4, 2009
There's no real mystery here. More creepy than anything. Years earlier in England the wax sculptor lost his museum to an unscrupulous business partner/accountant when the business partner torched it for the insurance money. Now in New York, the sculptor hopes to make a comeback with even more realistic wax sculptures. An investigative journalist is following the story of a young celebrity who recently killed herself, and then the body goes missing from the morgue. The dialogue between the reporteress and her editor was reminiscent of His Girl Friday or the Thin Man series (also seen in the more recent Hudsucker Proxy), but lacked the wit or punch of those better examples. To note, this was shot in Technicolor, but looks different than the Technicolor that most are familiar with. Not bad, just different. One of the few horrors I have seen from the era that does not have a "gothic" atmosphere to it at all.
RCMerchant
December 13, 2008
Great mystery/horror film from the Golden Age.
Lionel Atwill is insane and sinister (ugly too!) Fay Wray screams alot.
The REAL star is Glenda Farrel,as a smartass reporter.
The sub plot with the madman's junkie henchman was quite daring for the time (1933). And the dialouge too-Glenda-"How's your sex life?". Fay Wray strips done to her skimpies too! Hubba hubba!
Plus...it's in COLOR! (mostly shades of pink,blue and green).
dcrees
October 8, 2008
Looks like Hollywood has known for quite a while that wax figures are creepy. This came 20 years before House of Wax but has the exact same plot and story. However, it's definitely more of a mystery than a horror. And I found the Vincent Price one to be much more fun.
holmennnguy
August 12, 2008
Mystery Of The Wax Museum is a terribly underrated horror gem! There really isn't anything not to like: a fun plot, good acting, Fay Wray, and pure entertainment. I've been a fan of the 1953 remake for a couple of years until I remembered this was on the other side of the disc. And I'm so glad I remembered that.
ogrevi
June 13, 2008
When the Paris Hilton HOUSE OF WAX came out a couple of years ago, lots of folks snickered. How bad must the movie be, they wondered, if the producers felt compelled to cast the bimbo du jour to sell tickets? A few people were actually offended, because the Vincent Price HOUSE OF WAX from 1953 is a classic. Why remake this great movie when the original is such a wonderful film, and still so well-known? Everyone in the bar kept saying, ?Oh, the original is soooo much better.?
Well, they were right, the original is better, but Vincent Price wasn?t in it. The original came out twenty years earlier. It was directed by Michael (Casablanca) Curtiz and starred Lionel Atwill (one of the coolest actors of the era), Glenda Farrell (the original tough cookie), and Fay Wray (?nuff said). Despite the presence of Price, the cast of the later film is grossly inferior; about the most that can be said for them is that it?s fun to recognize Carolyn (Morticia Addams) Jones as an early victim, and you might possibly be able to pick out an impossibly young Charles Bronson in a small part.
Also, the Atwill version avoids the casual sexism so prevalent in the Price version. It says a lot about what a cultural and political wasteland the U.S. was in the Fifties that the strong, independent female characters of the first film become weak-kneed screamers twenty years later. It?s interesting intellectually that the two films could have such different vibes, with nearly identical screenplays; it shows the power that directors have regardless of the script. The censors of the fifties are shown up as sheltered prudes as well by the fact that Atwill?s assistant, a junkie, is transformed into an alcoholic in the remake. God forbid you mention drugs, even if the character using them is a disgusting, pathetic rat. I suppose the censors' logic was that kids in the Thirties were smart enough to handle that sort of thing, but kids had gotten a lot stupider by the Fifties.
It is true that the Price version has great nostalgic value. That is, in fact, the only value it has. I like to watch it now and then as a ?blast from the past,? but when I want to watch a great movie, I watch THE MYSTERY OF THE WAX MUSEUM instead. Unfortunately, in spite of its superiority, it has been replaced in the public imagination by Price's remake. This film is already out of print on DVD, and now that there's yet another remake to distract people from this little gem, it's likely to be forgotten entirely. That's really a shame.
September 1, 2013
This was a decent film that I watched on Turner Classic Movies (TCM) that's about a museum that consists of wax figures. . ahem. . wax figures of dead bodies.
KevinRobbins
October 9, 2012
They're pretty stiff...Not drunk, dope, dead.

In 1921 London, Ivan Igor's wax museum is burned down by his disappointed business partner. Igor is left disabled and confined to a wheel chair after the fire. He works with several other artists to try and recreate his master works but never seems quite satisfied with their efforts. As bodies start disappearing around London, a news reporter thinks the museum may have something to do with it.

"Have you ever heard of anything called a death mask?"
"Well, once I was married to one."

Michael Curtiz, director of Casablanca, White Christmas, The Adventures of Robin Hood, Mildred Pierce, Yankee Doodle Dandy, The Sea Wolf, Dodge City, Four's a Crowd, Kid Galahad, and Captain Blood, delivers Mystery of the Wax Museum. The storyline for this picture is amazing and so well delivered. The characters are fascinating and well developed and the script is very well written. The cast delivers outstanding performances and includes Lionel Atwill, Fay Wray, Glenda Farrell, and Edwin Maxwell.

"He said to get you out of trouble and then punch your head off."

I DVR'd this picture off Turner Classic Movies (TCM) this holiday season. This was an amazing film and so well done. The plot unfolds perfectly and the characters are well delivered and there is a nice blend of mystery, comedy, and horror throughout the movie. I strongly recommend seeing this film this holiday season.

"Sorry, hun, I'm going to disappoint you."
"She'll get used to it."

Grade: A
Alli Adele
August 22, 2012
This is a great film and is a must see if you enjoy the suspense and mystery films. A fire leaves a wax sculptor unable to create his art and a young woman begins to suspect that there are more sinister ongoing in the wax museum than appears present when her friend disappears and a wax sculpture almost identical appears also.
July 19, 2012
Quite good combo of 'His Girl Friday'-type high-energy dialogue-driven humor and the Gothic horror films popularized by Universal Studios. Not quite a classic, but it's well-directed. The beautiful expressionistic sets and the 2-tone technicolor give the film a look unique among horror films of the day. This is the follow-up to 'Doctor X', also starring Lionel Atwill and Fay Wray; it too was shot in 2-tone technicolor, making these two films the first horror movies to be shot entirely in color.
October 21, 2011
This movie is a good '30s horror flick.
Ryan M
Ryan M

Super Reviewer

July 22, 2011
7.0/10

There is one fatal flaw to "Mystery of the Wax Museum". It does not have the twist that it wants to have. Thanks to the existence of plot synopses and the like, we already know what the big reveal is going to be. That's not to say that the film has a bad ending, but it is underwhelming compared to the fear that we are intended to experience.

Otherwise, the movie still makes for a pretty solid, creepy time. It is thoroughly entertaining. It is engaging. And while it's not really scary, it has a heck of an atmosphere, and that's more than enough. It's probably not as good as its first remake, "House of Wax", but it's still worth seeing just for what it's got; and believe me, it's got plenty. I liked how it looked, how it felt, and pretty much everything else. It was well-acted, somewhat well-written, and with only that one little-big flaw keeping it from absolute greatness.

Ivan Igor, the owner and operator of a wax museum (which he sculpts for), loses his creations to a fire, the source of which was his greedy business partner; whose reason for burning the place was to use the insurance money for himself. Igor was left burn and disfigured both internally and externally after the incident, but it's clear that he's not ready to give up on life.

Twelve years after the destructive fire, Igor re-opens a NEW Wax Museum for the entertainment and admiration of those who like his hard work. But will the wax make a Marie Antoinette? Will the man's "children" live once again? The answers to each question are predictably answered in the end, but I guess it's worth sticking around.

Meanwhile, a reporter-woman investigates the disappearance and possible suicide of a local model. She is given the possibility that maybe it was murder, so she goes as deep as she possibly can with the case. The body is stolen from the morgue in which it resided, which adds to the mystery.

The story is simple in an endearing sense. But what makes the movie work, as I said, is the fact that it redeems itself through atmosphere. It was tense, undeniably creepy, and man, I liked it quite a bit for that. The production is lush, colorful, and the cinematography is at least fairly interesting. I also liked how the film made time for humor and comic relief, which never really consists of stuff that I laughed at, but it made the experience a better one than it needed to be. I enjoyed myself, as much as I possibly could, whilst watching it. And I'm glad I sat through it.

There are better horror movies. There are worse horror movies. I don't recommend this one, per se, but "Mystery of the Wax Museum" is definitely a good thriller if not a good horror movie. It works, as a chiller and a thriller; but I don't know about something that's actually scary. But what is "scary"? I mean, come on; you could do worse. I didn't jump, I didn't cringe, but the film definitely has a lot going for it, and I liked what I saw.

I also would like to take some time to acknowledge the performance of Lionel Atwill, who plays Igor. He is very good in this role. He's one of the finer attractions, of the entire product. And while the film may be a tough sell with this generation of horror fans, you don't need to be an old-timer to appreciate such fine acting. All-in-all, I'd tell you to see this movie only if you like the genre, and if you're willing to accept a flawed ending. I'm eager to watch "House of Wax" now; and I'm hoping that it will be better; because better is...well, better.
Hal
April 10, 2011
An abrasively brassy female newspaper reporter stumbles on the suspicious fact that a new figure featured in a wax museum strikingly resembles the missing corpse of an heiress. This is such a good premiss it inspired several later movies. Unlike those though this is played as a whodunit mystery, not as a horror movie. This is a sound movie ("Talkie") but the filmmakers are strangely oblivious to how it could be enhanced by scary or suspenseful music. This fact would make this a good choice for a cinema professor to play certain scenes for his class to show "gee, this scene fails for want of music!"
The cinematography is notable here. Quite good for its day--check out the two-tone Technicolor. In 1933! (Instead of RGB, it's just RG, that is, Reds and Greens). As for dialogue? It's unintentionally hilarious at times--the repartee between the reporter and her hardboiled boss. Again, it's worthy of viewing in a cinema class as exemplary. As for the last-second, completely unexpected marriage proposal and assent of reporter and editor, I'd point to that as a paradigm example of some studio boss's interference: "Fine, fine. Mystery's solved, but where's the romance, damnit! Somebody's gotta get married at the end!" Haha. But still--cut this picture some slack. People who give it a terrible grade need to view some other less well-known pictures from the same era to realize what "Bad" is.
Super.H
March 16, 2011
Really liked it, it is way ahead of its time!
Dean W.
March 12, 2011
A real surprise, shocking, funny, and sexy mix of Frankenstein and a depression era gangster movie that works on all levels. The sexiness is shocking for its time, no doubt this was used as example in the"cleaning up" and censorship of Hollywood in the late 30's.
You have to see this one to believe it, only the dumb let's get married ending tarnishes it.
Horror Movie Project
September 23, 2010
Ivan Igor was once the worlds greatest wax sculptor. That is until an attempt on his life burned his hands and melted all of his life's work. Now, confined to a wheel-chair and unable to work with his hands, he returns to reclaim his spot as the worlds greatest sculptor by directing a group of young artists to bring back his greatest creations. Quite mad and power hungry, Ivan Igor will not let anyone step in his way however, things begin to go awry for the unbalanced artist when a young journalist discovers that there is more than just wax going into the creation of his sculptures.


This film is littered with crazy-fast talking and funny quips. It reminds me of that Fast Talking and High Trousers bit that appeared in the Family Guy television show. The movie stars Lionel Atwill again as the protagonist Ivan Igor. Glenda Farrell and the original scream queen Fay Wray round out a pretty stellar cast and bring a great deal of horror and humor to an already creepy flick.

The movie really grabs you and doesn't let go. Unlike a lot of its early 30's counterparts this movie has a very quick pace and is constantly bringing you action and scares. The protagonist uses some really creepy looking make-up and even has some really cool effects that are used at the end of the film. It is an incredibly unusual horror movie for its time and because of that it stands up with some of the best of its day. However, the writing and the story are completely ludicrous and it can loose you in some places if you are not paying attention. You really need to sit down and devote the hour and fifteen minuets to watching this.

Mystery of the Wax Museum is rare in the fact that it was filmed in the two-color Technicolor film process. The only other film to use this process was Doctor X from 1932. Also, once again this movie deals with themes that were deemed controversial for its time; these being drug use and sex. In my epic quest to review every horror movie ever I am getting close to the year when the MPAA stepped in and made these movies no fun anymore (at least until the late 50's early 60's, or something like that). This movie has also spawned two remakes: one in 1953, and the other in 2005 with Paris Hilton.

I am going to go ahead and give Mystery of the Wax Museum a 6 of 10. It could have been a lot better in some parts, but it can definitely go toe to toe with the other little known gems of its time. I would recommend watching this movie back to back with Doctor X if you are a fan of old horror.

"As I live and breathe and wear spat the prince." - Florence (WTF)

S!D
peter h.
June 17, 2010
This film has got to be one the most underated classic horror/ thriller films out there due to it being realsed in the early 1930's when uinversail studios was reasling its imortal classic horror films like DACULA, FRANKESTEIN and THE MUMMY plus its 1953 remake titled the HOUSE OF WAX staring the legandary Vincent Price has vastly overshadowed this film . What makes this orginal impressive is due to its lavish production vales for a movie made in the Depression due to this movie being filmed etirely in a two colour Techicolour proceess ( which is just prefect for this kind of story) . And speaking of the story what is its plotline all about? Well the story starts of in a small side street london wax museum in 1921 were a brilliant sculpute called Ivan Igor has his enterie lifes work destroyed in a fire caused by his investment parnter just for the sake of insurance money. The plot jumps a head to new years's in New York city in 1933 were reporter Florence Dempsey is sent out to report on the apparent sucide of a young woman with links to a son of a wealty industrialist has been acused of her murder. However the murdered girls body has been taken from the mourge. As the plot progesses we find out Florence's room mate Charoltte Duncan fiancee is working at a new wax musem run by none other than the badly crippled Ivan Igor and the two of them have been invited to the musems grand opeing. However Florence suspects there is something not quite with the new wax musem when she notices that a wax figure of joan of arc strangley resembles the girl that commited suicide. Im not going any thougher with the plot but it dose lead to the leganary final sence with the smashing of a wax mask off the face of the movies villian is just brilliant to view, infact that scence alone has become one of the most famous horror movie secenes ever. This film blends brillianlty both a Pulp Crime story with a Horror story in one highly orginal film. 100/100
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