Tuesday, 2 November 2010

The House of Wax- 1953

The House of Wax is a film created in 1953 and is an American Horror film. It was directed by André De Toth and is a very close remake of 'Mystery of the Wax Museum'. The genre of horror during this period of time was changing. In the 1930’s and 1940’s the horror genre in cinema consisted of gothic horror tales such as adaptations of Dracula and Frankenstein. During the 1950’s horror took on a new direction, leading to the atomic-age, ‘much was made of the modern effects of radioactivity exposure, toxic chemical spills, or other scientific accidents’. The House of Wax represents a bridge between 1930’s horror and the atomic age of the 1950’s.

Horror Films Part 2

The film also reminded me of ‘The Uncanny Valley’. The Uncanny Valley was something we covered during our first year. It is where an object takes on the resemblance of a human but has faults. The wax figures in the museum fall into the Uncanny Valley because they look very realistic but they’re not alive. The idea of standing amongst the figures in the dark on ones own is what gives the film its horrific feel.

The subtitle use of 3D shows the film’s advance in technology. The scene in question is when a paddleball man advertising the opening of the museum hits the ball towards the camera. Although the 3D technology was not as advanced as it is today, the scene would have awed audiences of the time.

The plot starts of with wax sculptor Professor Henry Jarrod making wax figures. His business partner Matthew Burke wants to include macabre exhibits to increase profits. However Jarrod disagrees strongly against the idea. In an attempt to claim the insurance money, Burke sets fire to the museum, leaving Jarrod trapped inside the building.

Years later Jarrod, disfigured and crippled because of the fire starts up a new museum of wax figures. In this he includes horrific scenes of crime from the past up to present ones. This includes the mysterious hanging of his old business partner, as well as the death of Burke’s fiancée Cathy Gray. However Cathy’s roommate Sue Allen comes face to face with the killer, a disfigured figure only just able to walk.

After a chase around the streets of New York, Sue escaped the figures clutches and stays with Later Cathy’s body is then stolen from the morgue. Upon visiting the new museum, Sue gets suspicious of the new waxed figure of ‘Joan of Ark’, pointing out that it has an uncanny resemblance of Cathy. When Sue is then asked to be the model for Jarrod’s favorite wax figure, Marie Antoinette, the horrific truth of the wax figures realism starts to come to light.

I rather enjoyed the film and was glad it wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. I was also rather impressed with the 3D scene. Although the 3D effects in the film were very simple and not very technologically advanced, I discovered that I found the ball being bounced towards the camera more believable than the effects of modern 3D.

No comments:

Post a Comment