James Rolfe: It's Cinemassacre's "Monster Madness". "House of Wax"! This is a bit unusual because I'm actually talking about the remake. No, not that one (referring to the 2005 remake), but the 1953 version. Speaking of which I highly recommend the original 1933 version starring Lionel Atwill, called "Mystery of the Wax Museum". It's a pretty sophisticated horror film for its time.
(Scene from "Mystery of the Wax Museum" where Charlotte Duncan knocks off Ivan Igor's mask, revealing his deformed face)
James: But the first one I saw was the 1953 version. Some time in the early 90's it aired on TV with a special host, Tim Burton.
Tim Burton: I don't wanna give away the plot of "House of Wax" because, you know, it's just like-- It's, it's too complicated, it's too deep. It's like trying to describe, you know, the bible or something--
James: The bible?! Well, I never saw into it quite that deep, so I'll explain it in a nutshell. Vincent Price plays a sculptor, Henry Jarrod, who's giving a tour of his wax museum. You can tell that he really loves his wax figures and he treats them as if they're real people. But then after everyone has left, his partner comes in and says "Hey, we can get a lot of insurance money if this place burns down".
Henry Jarrod: No, I'd rather die myself than see my friends destroyed. I won't let you do it and I'll kill you if you try!
James: They fight it out as the place rapidly catches fire. There's so much momentum in this scene and it actually feel like the climax. Nothing this spectacular happens the rest of the movie.
Tim Burton: If you can get into the rhythm of watching, you know, wax figures burning and their eyeballs falling out and the layers of wax peeling away. It's, uh… a very enjoyable experience.
James: You know what? It is fun watching them melt, so I guess I have Tim Burton to thank for introducing me to this movie and putting me in the right, bizarre frame of mind.
Jarrod is left in the fire to burn. He survives but his hands are ruined and he can no longer sculpt. So he resorts to killing people and dipping them in wax to rebuild his museum. He also has an assistant named Igor, played by Charles Bronson. There's also a burly-looking guy wearing black, going around killing people. We assume that it's Jarrod, but it's never really explained until the end; Jarrod's face is actually a mask and this is the weirdest part of the whole movie. If he's that good at making such a perfect mask then he's in the wrong business.
The film suffers from one major thing. The first scene is so good that the rest of the movie just goes downhill. As an audience we wanna see him get revenge on the partner, but it happens so early in the film. He was the only murder that we feel is justified, but then the rest of the killings are all about rebuilding the museum, so it doesn't have as much impact.
Vincent Price is great as always. This is when he started to gain his reputation as the new prince of horror. It's also important to know that it was shown in 3D. This was just when the 3D craze were starting to pick up. With that in mind, it's no wonder that the paddle scene is there just to cater to the 3D gimmick. But even without it, for some reason, it's one of the most memorable scenes.
Man with bolo bat (breaking the 4th wall): Well, there is someone with a bag of popcorn. Close your mouth, it's the bag I'm aiming at, not your tonsil. Here she comes!
James: So check it out – "House of Wax".
Tim Burton (as he creepily giggles): In fact, if I ever stop directing I think I'm gonna change my name to Igor and go work for some great mad scientist, you know.
James: Oookay then…