You're not going in there, are you? – Carly
When are teenagers going to learn to stop going on road trips
through the backwoods? You do that and the next thing you know,
you're running into hicks, weirdos and psychos that do the "Ten
Little Indians" number on you.
As most of you know, House of Wax is the third remake
of a William Castle film by the Dark Castle film studio, after
House on Haunted Hill and 13
Ghosts. In the original, Vincent Price is a talented
wax sculptor who is horribly burned when his partner sets fire
to the museum for the insurance money. It also had Charles Bronson
as his Igor. Vincent was making a new Wax Museum by encasing
people in the wax. It's a fun movie (I have a soft spot for
all of Price's films), with some great Grand Guignol style thrills.
The revelation of what Vincent looks like at the end is a classic
scene. The film also had the gimmick of being in 3D.
This new one keeps only the very basic part of the premise,
that a crazy artist guy is waxing people. A group of teens
are caravaning their way to the biggest college football game
of the year. Just like the kids in the Texas Chainsaw
remake and House of 1,000 Corpses, with similar fates.
It also has its own gimmick: the stunt casting of Paris Hilton.
We have twins Carly (Elisha "I'm Kim Bauer, Kidnap Me" Cuthbert),
and Nick (Chad "One Tree Hill" Murray)
Jones. They have your typical sibling rivalry, where Nick acts
like a jerk and declares, "I'm the evil twin." So when you hear
Carly harping on "What happened to you," you just know he's
got a heart of gold under his crusty exterior.
Traveling with them is Carly's boyfriend Wade (Jade "Young
MacGyver" Padalecki), friends Paige (Paris "Simple" Hilton),
her boyfriend Blake (Robert "Coach Carter" Ri'chard)
and Nick's buddy Dalton (Jon "They"
Abrahams). They're making one last trip before Carly heads off
to New York for an internship, which is putting a strain on
her relationship with Wade.
When Blake's shortcut leads to a detour that tosses the group
into the deep woods, they park for the night and set up camp.
Things go well until they have a creepy encounter with a pickup
truck. The driver just keeps his lights on, watching the group
until Nick tosses a bottle at the truck and breaks a headlamp,
driving the guy off. You know this is only going to lead to
In the morning, when they try to leave, Wade's car has a fan
belt break, stranding half the group. He and Carly, with the
help of a local redneck, head to a small town nearby to get
a new belt. In this little lost town they find the House of
Wax. It's closed, but they go in anyway and marvel at the place
— the entire place is made of wax, the walls, floors,
furniture, the whole nine.
They wander around, meet the owner of the garage, and things
take off from there . . . sort of. All this took about
30 of the flick's 110-minute run time, and there's about another
fifteen minutes before things really start happening. This,
my friends, is the movie's biggest flaw. It's all long, drawn-out
setup for the scares. There are just huge, huge, huge tracts
of time that are tedious filler and overdone overture.
Now, once the plot kicks in and the scares start scaring,
the movie is good. There are some wonderful creepy bits done
with all the wax "artwork," great tense scenes and some very
sadistic and vicious kills. This film tortures some of the characters
with wicked abandon, like the guy who has part of his face peeled
Our bad guys are also very interesting, another pair of twins
named Bo and Vincent (Brian "SWAT"
Van Holt), the children of the woman who originally built the
House of Wax. Vincent (a nod to Mr. Price) has his mother's
artistic talent, and Bo is a cruel SOB. The movie plays a bit
with good and bad twins idea and the secret about Bo/Vincent.
The end of the film is a great set piece that was just about
worth the price of admission.
However, you have to sit through way too much setup to get
to the good stuff. Between each of the great bits is another
batch of slow builds. Some of them build tension, but others
Most of the cast, particularly Dalton, Paris and Blake, are
thumbnails just there to be killed and don't really bring a
lot to the party. Paris does die horribly, so at least there's
This film really could have been done in 90 minutes, perhaps
even 60, with judicious editing. It's just way too padded. It's
not nearly as much fun as the original, and that one had Vincent
Price going for it, too. And a young Charles Bronson.
I have enjoyed most of the Dark Castle films so far, and while
this is not the weakest outing yet from them (that would be
it is not the strongest either. If you're a horror fan
who's just jonesing for a fright fix, or you want to watch Paris
Hilton get murdered, then go ahead and see House of Wax
in the theatre. Otherwise, wait for video where you can
fast forward to the good, gooey, waxy stuff.