House of Wax; or How Vincent Price Melted Our Hearts

Hello and Hallo-welcome to the first blog of this year’s Hallowfest Octobfilm! Put your feet up, make yourself at home, and settle in for a fright-filled month of awesome films with your beloved bloggers, Andy and Lilly!

This year, not only do you get to see what films are coming up on our calendar page–go take a look now if you haven’t–but we are also using themed days to…well…you know what, we don’t owe you people an explanation! Because we want to! So there!

Andy: …It’s been a busy week.

Today’s #TBT Terror film offering: House of Wax

3D Vincent Pride, WHY NOT
3D Vincent Pride, WHY NOT

Andy: Oh man Vincent Price!

Lilly: My favourite Vincent!

Andy: Anyone else creeped out by waxworks? Or mannequins? There’s this amazing villain in Doctor Who called the Autons, which are basically just shop dummies coming to life and stalking people. Creeped me right out when I was 10.

Lilly: It creeped me out when I was in my twenties, watching the reboot’s episode featuring them!

Andy: Anyway, onto the film.

House of Wax (the original, not the remake which went from Price and Charles Bronson to Paris Hilton and the daughter from 24 … that’s actually kinda depressing) covers the tragedy of one Professor Jarrod, who makes exquisite representations of wax figures, and refuses to sell out and do the whole ‘Chamber of Horrors’ thing because he’s an artist, dammit!

Lilly: That is, until he goes MAD. As Vincent Price tends to do, bless.

Andy: Yep. And when people start turning up murdered, and they have pissed off the Professor, and then waxwork figurines start showing up that look exactly like the murder victims, it’s pretty obvious what’s going on. To the audience that is. To the cast it may as well be the Zodiac Killer. Still, what’s a horror film without some incredibly ineffectual cops?

Lilly: “Hey, that figure is of that guy that died then his body went missing and now this waxwork looks just like him!” “Yeah, Charlie. This guy is a GREAT artist!” “Shame about his mangled hands!” “Yeah, lucky he has that huge muscled deaf mute brute to help him out doing all that art! That guy looks like he could lift a body or something!” “Probably could! Hey, let’s go watch that guy with the paddle all some more!” “Yeah!”

Andy: The big deaf guy’s name is Igor. Honest to God.

Lilly: Starting Hallowfest Octobfilm with this film was basically a treat to us. It stars one of our favourite Masters of the Macabre and has just the right tone to keep us both happy, which you’ll find throughout this month isn’t as easy as it sounds. It’s got great build up, it has some suspense, and while it is predictable what is coming re: the reveal, who cares! Vincent Price is making wax figures out of bodies! Enjoy!

However, it’s hard to look at a film from this era without briefly touching on the sexist remarks. My favourite was definitely ‘Only a skirt would come up with an idea like that!’, mainly because the man who said it was meaning to be rude about her, but actually, she was right. So. Sucker! Only a ‘skirt’ would be super right! In your face! It was nice to see the worst of the sexism being left to the morons, not the lead characters.

Andy: Yeah, you have to take the rough with the smooth. Still, it’s an unusual Vincent Price film , lacking the garishness of the Roger Corman/Poe adaptations and the sheer nasty excess of The Witchfinder General. It’s a good entry level one if you’ve never seen the maestro in action. It’s pretty great, pretty breezy fun.

Lilly: It really is fun. It’s up there with Comedy of Terrors and The Raven for campy thrills.I mean, if you want deep plot, this isn’t the film for you, but it was entertaining, and hey, sometimes, that’s what you want. I think it is actually a great introduction to Vincent Price, as it’s a great character to get his teeth into. From thoughtful artist to maniacal madman, Vincent charms his way through this piece to the point where you sort of want him to get away with it. I mean, who is he harming? Besides everyone, I mean. Besides everyone, who is he harming?? Exactly.

Andy: Oh the wax humanity!

Lilly: Oh, and the makeup job that is done on Vincent is amazing. Spoiler alert here, but his burns are fantastic and gruesome and purple! Purple! Also, there is an amazing bit of acting done by the original Morticia Addams, Carolyn Jones, as a bubbly blond gold digger with an odd little laugh who ends up in quite the state–it isn’t a spoiler when the title is House of Wax, is it? Surely not.

Andy: Fun trivia: this was directed by a man with one eye named André de Toth. It was also shot in stereoscopic 3-D, which is pretty much identical to that used today (take THAT Avatar) so was screened on four reels, two at a time – which completely flew over the head of the director, who had no sense of perspective. It also leads to some odd bits where they do really obvious 3-D stuff, like a fourth wall breaking moment with a dude and some paddles. It goes on so long it blasts right through annoying to hilarious.

Lilly: Wait, no, more trivia: the music was done by a guy named David Buttolph. Both times we watched the opening credits, we giggled.

Andy: Buttolph. *snigger*.

Lilly: You’re welcome.

Big ol’ recommendation from me on this one–I might start recommending this one to strangers on the street, I enjoyed it so much. It was fun, it was scary, it had gratuitous 3D moments where things were held towards the screen and I just. Loved. It.

Andy: And the same from me. Go forth, and if anyone refuses to watch it, cover them in wax and stick ‘em next to you on the sofa. Done.

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