House of Wax (1953) - André De Toth

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

The ‘house of wax’ was the first 3D film from a major studio – Warner Brothers. The CG is quite good for the period, however, it shows how not to use it to the contemporary audience.

“It’s one of the great Hollywood stories,” Price recalled. “When they wanted a director for [a 3D] film, they hired a man who couldn’t see 3D at all! Andre de Toth was a very good director, but he really was the wrong director for 3D.” © Steve Biodrowski

It was first horror film shot in the stereoscopic process. The film, also, was shot in color, which was a rare thing for the horror films of the period. It is historically important, because it established Vincent Price as a horror star. However, I wasn’t familiar with this actor and could even remember none of his films.

This film is a good representation of the term ‘Uncanny Valley’. According to Sigmund Freud ‘The Uncanny’ related to something frightful, to what arouses dread and horror; equally, the word is not always used in a clearly definable sense, so that it tends to coincide with what excites fear in general.

When Sue visited the wax exhibition she saw a statue of Joan of Ark it was the speaking image of her dead friend Cathy. Sue was frightened for death however everyone assured her that it was just a masterpiece. According to Freud there is something common that allows us to distinguish Uncanny within the frightening. It can be proposed that the horror part of this film has been achieved by the use of the ‘Uncanny’.
The narrative part is also strong and straightforward. I think, the eerie atmosphere and uncanny bias are perfect settings for the story about obsessed wax sculptor.

I recommend this film to people who didn’t have a chance to watch it.