Tuesday, April 29, 2014

House Of Wax 3D Blu-Ray Review

Basil, scared of the high winds, is hiding on my shoulder



Howdy there folks of all shapes and sizes, felt it was a good time to put up another 3D movie review since A: it's been awhile since I've done so, B: I like this movie a lot, and C: my cat Ruby is sitting on my lap pinning me to my chair preventing me from moving lest her sharp needle like claws should extend themselves and rip into the flesh of my thigh causing me to bleed-out whilst enduring a great amount of pain.






And now onto our main course - House of Wax 1953


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Original House of Wax 1953 movie poster
The Review:

This classic horror film from 1953 is the movie that virtually made the career of screen legend Vincent Price. Seriously. At the time of the production he was coming out of being "Grey Listed," that is he was against the Nazi Party prior to WWII. Odd as that sounds, but during the Red Scare of the 1950's that was considered to be a very communist line of thinking and anyone that thought or expressed that notion was investigated. With his good name cleared, Price had the chance to either star in a Broadway play or this film, me made his choice and the rest as they say is history. Had he not taken this role, he may have continued to be relegated to supporting roles or simply faded into obscurity.

House Of Wax is a remake of an earlier film about a vengeful wax figure sculptor who is bent on
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punishing his former business partner who wronged him and anyone that profited from the destruction of his museum. This time the talented wax sculptor Professor Jarrod who is driven towards murderous revenge is played by Vincent Price. Price lives in this role balancing equally a sense of empathy for his need of vengeance and that of an insane madman who must be stopped at all costs.

Caught in the wake are a couple of innocent ladies, Carolyn Jones as the flighty Cathy and her friend Sue played by Phyllis Kirk. After the death of her friend, Sue visits Jarrod's wax museum of horrors and discovers that a "likeness" of her dear friend was used as the star attraction of Joan of Arc. Soon after Sue is stalked by a disfigured monster who may or may not be in the employ of Jarrod. Also featured as a deaf mute is tough man Charles Bronson - even mute the man had screen presence and is fun to watch!

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Vincent Price as Jarrod

This is a truly fantastically creepy film. Not only is it moody and scary with a touch of humor - but the performances from its principal players are perfect. We feel for Price's Jarrod as a tortured man driven to madness, but recoil from him when he takes his quest for revenge past the necessary point as he stalks the innocent to add to his collection of horrors. We know Phyllis Kirk's Sue is in danger throughout the run of the film, we want her to avoid further encounters with Jarrod, but understand and encourage her quest to learn the truth of her friend's untimely death. The horrors and shocks are still effective 60 plus years later. It's an ominous and atmospheric movie, that even the most jaded of horror film fans must appreciate for the role it plays in shaping modern horror.




Easily 5 out of 5

The 3rd Dimension


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As the film to popularize 3D features in the 1950's, this is simply a stunning presentation. Contrary to popular belief, 3D movies of the era did not require the signature Red/Blue glasses, but the polarized lenses that are in common use today. Those Red/Blue glasses were used for still images and 3D comic books. With that, this fully restored Blu-ray release is a near perfect replication of the theatrical experience. The only way to make it any better would be to have the movie projected on the largest screen possible. Appropriately "pillar-boxed" in it's original 4:3 aspect ratio, the 3D effects pop in all the right ways. Rarely a strain on the eyes, 3D is truly the best way to watch this movie. I have fond memories watching this in 2D on a small TV set when I was a little kid, the vivid colors, the excellent camera work - all of it works so much better now that it can be properly viewed in the home as it was meant to be seen in the theater. This is a first rate restoration from Warner Brothers and a thrilling 3D ride!

The Extras Dimension

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While there aren't a great number of extra features, what is on hand is fantastic. There is a great commentary track by David Del Valle and Constantine Nasr, but the real gem of the bunch is an in-depth feature House of Wax: Unlike Anything You've Seen Before. This is made up of reassembled vintage interview footage and new historian interviews to make one of the most thorough and entertaining behind the scenes look of any film. Did you know director Andre De Toth was blind in one eye? I knew this fact from a long time ago, but if you're wondering how a man without depth perception could direct a 3D movie - you're going to want to watch this feature. Simply put the man was brilliant in every technical and artistic way possible.



The End Result

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Um... are you kidding me? If you have a 3D set, intend to buy one, or want to own this movie on blu-ray(it does come with a 2D version) this is simply a no brainer. I rarely buy movies at MSRP, it's a price that is just set too high to be practical in this day and age. In this case, I was forced to buy it at full price since I could only find it in one brick and mortar store and even Amazon didn't have it any cheaper. That said - it is worth every single penny spent. I revel in this movie's production design, incredibly deep 3D images, and love the fully restored picture and sound. This is a movie that belongs in every horror fan's collection, and this is the best way to own it, period.








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