House of Wax (2005) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

The 2005 film called House of Wax is not a remake of the 1953 Vincent Price 3-D classic. It shares only a title and the general premise with the earlier movie, that being that the wax museum in the story is far more realistic than most because the wax characters are actually real humans with a thin wax veneer.

The film resembles its namesake less than it resembles House of 1000 Corpses, or any of those "city slicker teens encounter homicidal redneck maniacs" films. The only deviation from the redneck maniac formula is that these particular inbred locals have a different way to dispose of the bodies. In all other respects, it is one of those films where the uppity college students treat the slack-jawed rubes with contempt and end up paying for their condescension.

As per the genre standards, the script requires the kids to do every possible stupid thing to provoke their own fate. After an unexpected detour from the interstate, the kids don't even know where they are and decide to get some zzz's. A local pick-up truck shines its lights into their camping area. They don't like it, so they break the headlights on the pick-up truck. The driver leaves, so they congratulate themselves, resume drinking, and fall asleep without moving to a different campground.


In addition to the usual clichés and conventions, the film may have two items of interest, depending on your preferences:

  • One of the college students is played by the socialite and omnipresent media personality Paris Hilton, who does a striptease down to her underwear.
  • The set design, decor, and style of the film are original. The indoor lighting scheme features an ubiquitous chartreuse hue which bathes the scenes in an otherworldly glow. The actual design of the House of Wax is a re-imagined form of Art Deco, and the museum really is made out of wax, which means that the entire building melts down completely in the inevitable fire which ends every wax museum movie. This provides additional opportunities for the film's creative people to mount some eerie images.

Despite the impressive visuals, House of Wax was widely ridiculed by mainstream critics. On the other hand, many genre fans liked it, as summed up by an IMDb comment: "It has everything a good horror should; a creepy villain, excessive violence, acts which make that average person cringe ... this movie hit all the bases. It is definitely worth a watch."

For what it's worth, I found it too predictable to engage my interest.



  • B-roll footage and bloopers, with cast commentary
  • three featurettes (set design, visual effects, etc.)
  • an alternate opening scene
  • a "gag reel"
  • the widescreen transfer is anamorphically enhanced (16x9)



None. Paris Hilton strips to her underwear.

The Critics Vote ...

  • Super-panel consensus out of four stars: two stars. James Berardinelli 2/4, Roger Ebert 2/4, BBC 3/5.

The People Vote ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, it can't be lower than C-, despite the general contempt of critics. The acceptance of genre fanatics and the surprisingly good box office performance demonstrate its appeal.

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