House of Wax (1953): DeToth 3-D Horror Thriller, Starring Vincent Price

Andre DeToth directed House of Wax, a vastly popular 3-D horror thriller, starring Vincent Price in one of his most iconic roles.

Price plays a disfigured sculptor who repopulates his destroyed wax museum by murdering people and using their wax-coated corpses as displays.

The film is a remake of Warner Bros.’ Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933).

It premiered in New York on April 10, 1953 and then widely released on April 25, 1953. House of Wax was the first color 3-D feature from a major American studio and premiered just two days after Columbia’s Man in the Dark, the first major-studio black-and-white 3-D feature.

One of the biggest hits of 1953, House of Wax topped the charts for five weeks, earning about $25 million at the global box-office, an impressive figure considering that its production budget was about 1 million.

 

Cult Film

In 1971, it was widely re-released to theaters in 3-D, with a full advertising campaign. Newly-struck prints of the film in Chris Condon’s single-strip StereoVision 3-D format were used.

Another major re-release occurred during the 3-D boom of the early 1980s.

In 2014, the film was deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the Library of Congress, and was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.

Cast

Vincent Price as Professor Henry Jarrod
Frank Lovejoy as Lt. Tom Brennan
Phyllis Kirk as Sue Allen
Carolyn Jones as Cathy Gray
Paul Picerni as Scott Andrews
Roy Roberts as Matthew Burke
Paul Cavanagh as Sidney Wallace
Dabbs Greer as Sgt. Jim Shane
Angela Clarke as Mrs. Andrews
Charles Bronson as Igor (credited as Charles Buchinsky)

House of Wax revitalized the career of Vincent Price, who had been playing secondary character parts since the late 1930s. After this role, Price was in demand to play fiendish villains, mad scientists and other deranged characters in genre films such as The Tingler, The Masque of the Red Death and The Abominable Dr. Phibes.

Carolyn Jones, whose career had begun with he appearance in House of Wax, gained higher profile a decade later in the TV comedy horror, The Addams Family as Morticia Addams.

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