Nightmare in Wax (1969)

nightmare in wax poster 1969 movie
4.0 Overall Score
Story: 4/10
Acting: 3/10
Visuals: 4/10

Over-the-top acting, throwback feel

Too long, dull story, generally poor print quality

Movie Info

Movie Name: Nightmare in Wax

Studio: Avatar Communications

Genre(s): B-Movie/Horror

Release Date(s): May 14, 1969

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

nightmare in wax cameron mitchell burned

All I need is my clay and my insane dreams of revenge!

When actor Vincent Renard (Cameron Mitchell) is scarred by Paragon Pictures studio head Max Black (Berry Kroeger) over his relationship with Marie Morgan (Anne Helm), Max seeks revenge.  Max is hunting down the top actors of Paragon and making them all part of his museum of celebrities…and Max Black will pay for his actions.

Directed by Bud Townsend, Nightmare in Wax is a horror revenge thriller.  The low-budget movie often can be found in public domain multi-movie packs.

House of Wax (1953) and the earlier Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933) were pretty inventive horror films that were both scary and memorable.  The format has been reused multiple times and Nightmare in Wax is just another iteration of the story.

nightmare in wax cameron mitchell anne helm

Renard…you really have an odd idea of what a woman wants…

Most low budget horror movies move a lot faster and are a lot shorter.  Nightmare in Wax is the standard hour and a half and it feels like it.  There is no mystery involved with Renard identified as the villain out for revenge early on and there are some nuances of Phantom of the Opera with Renard’s scarring.  While it starts to develop as you expect (the figures showing up at the wax museum), the plot goes sideways with Renard’s “plan” never making much sense (but he behaves like someone who isn’t insane through most of the movie).  The whole paralyzed people-zombie part also feels tacked on with the obvious “lightning is bad” caveat tossed out early coming back into play.

The movie is filled with hammy acting.  Cameron Mitchell is over the top as the scarred Renard and Anne Helm never feels more than a set-piece as the girl who loved Renard despite his appearance.  Berry Kroeger is fun as studio head Max Black who rivals Mitchell’s over-the-top performance.

nightmare in wax max black laughing berry kroeger

I love a good villain “Do You Know Who I Am?” speech!

The movie since it was relatively low-budget to begin with is hard to find in a very good quality print.  I don’t know that cleaning up the picture would help it much, but it would aid some of the visuals.  The grindhouse feel of the movie might be its only charm and cleaning it up might hurt it more than help it.

Nightmare in Wax is a time killer.  It is a dull and rather lifeless horror movie coming at the rebirth of horror.  If someone had decided to make this film a couple years later, it might have had an entirely different look and feel.  This movie feels more like a throwback to the 1960s horror than looking forward to horror of the 1970s.  Enter the Nightmare in Wax only at your own digression…and just stick to the classic versions of a similar story.

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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