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House of Wax 3D (1953) - Blu-ray Review

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House of Wax 3d 1953 - Blu-ray Review

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4 stars

The most successful 3D film of the 1950s has finally arrived on Blu-ray.  André de Toth’s House of Wax brought Warner Bros a lot of fortune and fame during its original run in 1953 but the film is also known for something else: the rebirth of Vincent Price.

Yes, there was a time when Price was in dramas only. Hard to imagine, I know.  He’s now considered an icon of the horror and thriller genre and yet his filmography tells another story.  It wasn’t always that way.

For many years, Price was stuck in stuffy films as the sympathetic supporting character with little to do and, previously, he was grey-listed due to his anti-Nazi sentiments.  It truly was a different world.  This 3D funhouse of terror – and its $5.5 million from North American box office earnings – would change all that.

House of Wax is a direct remake (even in costumes and makeup) of Michael Curtiz’s 1933 thriller Mystery of the Wax Museum.  It is also their answer to the surprise 3D hit that was Bwana Devil, an independent release that shocked viewers with its use of the new in-your-face technology.  They needed to “up” the 3D game and did so by hiring Toth (who, ironically enough, was blind in one eye) to helm their stereoscopic Natural Vision reply.

Price stars as Professor Henry Jarrod, a wax figure sculptor who gets robbed of his museum when his greedy partner burns down their building and collects the insurance.  Jarrod – now horribly disfigured and presumed dead – takes his revenge quite beautifully by going after partner Matthew Burke (Roy Roberts) and his fiancée, Cathy Gray (Carolyn Jones), making them both a permanent part of his new wax museum.  The movie also stars Charles Bronson in a near-silent performance as Jarrod’s assistant.

Written by Crane Wilbur, House of Wax is a disturbing thriller that is just prime material for Price.  It’s no wonder then that this picture was the beginning of his love affair with playing the fiendish villain.  His demand was so great that classic performances in The Tingler, The Masque of the Red Death and The Abominable Dr. Phibes immediately follow his role here as the cloaked, disfigured killer.

The film; however, isn’t all horror though.  There’s a wonderful use of foreground effects used by Toth involving can-can girls and a wise-cracking paddleball pitchman.  Humor crops up from time to time, too.  He also sprinkles in strong “jump scares” involving a museum fire that still work and feel authentic to the story, not an afterthought.

House of Wax is a classic of the 1950s in many ways.  This special 3D release on Blu-ray is part of Warner Bros campaign to celebrate its 60th anniversary and, if you are a fan of Vincent Price, it is a definite must-own.  It is, in fact, terror that simply melts away the screen.

{2jtab: Film Details}

House of Wax 3D 1953 - Blu-ray ReviewMPAA Rating: Unrated.
Runtime:
90 mins
Director
: André De Toth
Writer: Crane Wilbur
Cast:
Vincent Price, Frank Lovejoy, Phyllis Kirk
Genre
: Horror
Tagline:
You've never been scared until you've been scared in 3-D.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Here's President Lincoln and his assassin John Wilkes Booth. One of my few concessions to the macabre."
Distributor:
Warner Bros.
Official Site:
Release Date:
April 25, 1953
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
October 1, 2013

Synopsis: An associate burns down a wax museum with the owner inside, but he survives only to become vengeful and murderous.

{2jtab: Blu-ray Review}

House of Wax (1953) - Blu-ray review

Component Grades
Movie

Blu-ray Disc
4 stars

4 stars



Blu-ray Experience
4 stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - October 1, 2013
Screen Formats: 1.37:1
Subtitles
: English SDH; French; Spanish; Portuguese; Japanese; German; Italian
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0; French: Dolby Digital Mono; German: Dolby Digital Mono; Italian: Dolby Digital Mono; Spanish: Dolby Digital Mono
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD); Blu-ray 3D

Warner Bros restoration includes a 4K scan, and a full restoration, as well as perfect 3D image alignment.  And thankfully, House of Wax 3D melts onto Blu-ray in a 1080p transfer presented in a 1.37:1 aspect ratio with the 3D version a definitive presentation.  Full of a nice sense of depth in every frame, director André De Toth gives a sterling example of how to effectively use the format.  There isn’t any amount of banding, aliasing, or ringing in the picture.  Detail is fantastic, with colors bright and cheery, without any case of bleeding.  The 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio might have needed an upgrade but it does the job nicely.

Supplements:

Commentary:

Special Features:

The celebration is off to a great start with the all new feature “House of Wax: Unlike Anything You’ve Seen Before!”  This feature runs a whopping 48 minutes and features interviews from the likes of Wes Craven, Larry Cohen, Joe Dante, Rick Baker, Del Valle, Victoria Price (Vincent’s daughter), and Martin Scorsese, who still claims House of Wax to be “the greatest 3D film” ever made.  Additional special features include the film’s theatrical trailer, and vintage newsreel footage.  Of special interest is the inclusion of the original Mystery of the Wax Machine film from 1933.

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