House of Wax, 1953, 90 minutes, Warner Brothers, Color. Directed by Andre De Toth. Starring Vincent Price as Professor Henry Jarrod, Frank Lovejoy as Lt. Tom Brennan, Phyllis Kirk as Sue Allen, and Charles Bronson as Igor. Schlock-Meter rating: 5 stars out of 10.
The real problem with House of Wax is that it's dull. Vincent Price does a fine job as the mad, scarred professor who wants to wax over many humans in his new museum of horrors, but the film is stagey, with lots of talk and few shocks.
House of Wax also fails to achieve any real cult status for another reason, which is a left-handed compliment. It's too competent a film technically to be corny. The sets are nice. The direction OK. The special effects adequate, and the color nice and unfaded.
The ending bumps House of Wax's Schlock-meter rating a tad. It's quite suspenseful to watch Price casually preparing to murder before being stopped and falling to his death into his own vat of wax. Movie fans will enjoy seeing a very young Charles Bronson in the role of Igor, a mute confederate of Price's.
Still, House of Wax is just too talky and dull in stretches to recommend as a rental. Catch it when it airs on Turner Classic Movies, and enjoy a master of the genre, Vincent Price, perform in his usual above-average manner.
-- Doug Gibson