House of Wax (1953)

house of wax poster 1953 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Fun horror

3-D is kind of lame in 2-D

Movie Info

Movie Name:  House of Wax

Studio:  Warner Bros.

Genre(s):  Horror

Release Date(s):  April 10, 1953

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated


Hey, you have something on your face there…

Professor Henry Jarrod (Vincent Price) is a skilled artist who can make magic out of wax. When his business partner Matthew Burke (Roy Roberts) tries to burn down the museum for a profit, Jarrod is caught in the flames trying to save his work.  Jarrod resurfaces a cripple and starts a new wax museum. When Burke is killed and his girlfriend Cathy Gray (Carolyn Jones) is murdered in her room, Cathy’s friend Sue Allen (Phyllis Kirk) finds herself pursued by a cloaked figure on the streets. What is the figure’s ties to the wax museum and is it Sue’s imagination or do the figures look like missing bodies?

Directed by André de Toth, The House of Wax was a remake of the 1933 film Mystery of the Wax Museum and the first major studio release of a 3-D film. It was a huge hit when it was released and really helped spark the ’50s 3-D craze.  It was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 2014.


Wow, this guy has a “death wish”

House of Wax is aided by a relatively smart story. The original film had a lot more comedy to it with a wise crackin’ reporter and a love story, but this film amps up the horror. I love the idea of a criminal hiding his crime in plain sight. It is particularly fun when officer Sgt. Jim Shane (Dabbs Greer) is looking right at the body he is looking for and doesn’t realize it.

Price is always fun in these films. He doesn’t get to really do as much in this film until the end, but when he’s acting maniacal, Price is at his best. The rest of the cast is so-so with an appearance by Charles Bronson as Price’s generically named assistant Igor. I actually enjoyed the previous cast more because of its strange genre blending which allowed more range for the actors.


See the amazing paddle ball!!!

The movie has some pretty classic horror images with foggy streets and cloaked figures combined with some great make-up on the horribly scarred Vincent Price. The 3-D aspects of the film are rather annoying in 2-D, like the classic paddleball scene from the movie. I am not a huge 3-D person, but it might be nice to have a good clean 3-D release for this film.

The House of Wax is a rather entertaining ’50s horror film. It is usually packaged with the earlier version of the film Mystery of the Wax Museum and both films are definitely worth checking out. The story has been played out in other media (TV, radio) and a big screen remake was released in 2005.

Related Links:

Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933)

House of Wax (2005)


Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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