That whole place is a morgue.
Professor Henry Jarrod (Vincent Price) is a sculptor of wax. His works are lifelike. His specialty is historical figures. His business partner, Matthew Burke (Roy Roberts), needs more return on his investment. He urges Jarrod to have more lurid exhibits like a chamber of horrors. When Jarrod refuses, Burke sets the place on fire destroying everything in order to collect on the insurance. During the arson Jarrod and Burke have a fight. Jarrod is knocked unconscious and left to die in the flames.
Jarrod unexpectedly reappears with the launching of a new museum. This time, his exhibits are centered around the macabre. The opening of the new museum seems to coincide with some missing dead bodies from the city morgue. Only unbeknownst to anyone, he has a very particular way of making his wax creations. A very deadly way.
Jarrod has yet to reproduce his most cherished work, Marie Antoinette. His assistant Scott begins to get suspicious of him and starts to suspect foul play when Jarrod becomes too interested in the assistant’s beautiful friend, Sue Allen (Phyllis Kirk). Jarrod begins to think he has found his Marie Antoinette.
“House of Wax” was filmed in 3-D and was released in 1953. It is a remake of “Mystery of the Wax Museum” released in 1933. In the original version of the film the alcoholic assistant was a heroin addict. It was changed for the remake because, by then, the Production Code forbade any mention of drug addiction. Also the main character’s name was changed from Ivan Igor to Henry Jarrod so as to avoid alienating Russian viewers.
The movie stars Vincent Price, Frank Lovejoy, Phyllis Kirk, Carolyn Jones, Paul Picerni, Roy Roberts, Paul Cavanagh, and Charles Bronson.
The fire in the beginning of the film was not supposed to be as big as it was. There were only to be three small fires, however, once the cameras started rolling, things got out of hand quickly. Since wax figures would have been hard to remake, the cameras kept on rolling resulting in a hole in the sound stage roof and singed eyebrows on Mr. Price. Vincent Price’s look of concern is quite genuine.
Charles Bronson played Igor and was credited as Charles Buchinsky. He changed his name from Buchinsky to Bronson in 1954. Price was banned from the studio commissary during shooting when in full make-up as a burn victim. Apparently he disturbed the other diners’ appetites. The guillotine used in the movie is real.
Even sitting in a wheel chair Price is masterful. Dressed in black and still tall and straight, he is commanding and captivating. His performance balances the darkness of his obsession for his creations with the quietness of his insanity.