Fright vs. Fright is a series of comparisons between classic horror films and the lesser-known works that inspired them, or subsequent remakes that stand on their own merits.
The Film: House of Wax (1953)
The Good, The Bad, The Indifferent: This movie is remarkable for several reasons. It's a prime example of 50s major studio horror, and a lot of fun. But beyond that, it a) kicked off Vincent Price's career as a boogeyman, b) was one of the first studio films shot in 3-D (which is the source of some of the biggest groans in the movie, including a famous ball-paddling barker), c) features a very young (and very ripped) Charles Bronson when he was still using his given name of Charles Buchinsky, and d) features Carolyn Jones, who went on to play Morticia Addams in The Addams Family.
Based On: The Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933)
Worth a Watch? Mystery of the Wax Museum is a curiosity, at best. It was shot in 2-strip Technicolor, so it has a visual texture that only a few other surviving films have, and that's definitely something to see if you're interested in that kind of thing (I am). And in the role of Florence, actress Glenda Farrell does a dynamite job as a streetwise dame with moxie to burn. Her performance is maybe not the equal of, but certainly holds its own against better known performances by Russell and Jean Arthur. But in the end, this is two very different movies fighting to exist inside the space of 74 minutes, and it just winds up reminding you that there are much better versions of each of them readily available.
Posted by Vance K — cult film reviewer and co-editor of nerds of a feather, flock together since 2012. Perennial watcher of dozens of horror movies each October.
- Book Review Policy