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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Day 271: House Of Wax

House Of Wax
More like the Outhouse of Wax

When is a remake not really a remake? When you use the same name as a far better movie and the most basic of premises. In recent years, there has a been an avalanche of classic horror movie remakes. While I'm not entirely for remakes, I will admit that sometimes a fresh prospective or updated effects can do wonders. The Thing and Dawn Of The Dead are two prime examples. Ultimately, what makes these two remakes work is that they are still true to the source material. Some characters may change, some events may be added, but the story and the heart of the movie is still the same. A lot of these new remakes, though, take the name of a much-beloved classic horror movie, along with a loose interpretation of the material, and crank out a movie in hopes that people will see it on name recognition. One of these movies is House Of Wax.

House of Wax is a 2005 horror remake of the 1953 Vincent Price classic of the same name. Completely forget what you know about the original because this one does as well. The movie stars Elisha Cuthbert (The Girl Next Door, 24) as Carly Jones and Chad Michael Murray (One Tree Hill, The Haunting In Georgia) as her brother Nick. Nick, Carly, her boyfriend Wade (Jared Padalecki, Gilmore Girls, Cry Wolf), her friend Paige (Paris Hilton, Repo! The Genetic Opera, Veronica Mars), Paige's boyfriend Blake (Robert Ri'chard, Coach Carter, The Vampire Diaries), and their goofy buddy Dalton (Jon Abrahams, Scary Movie, Meet The Parents) go on a road trip to see a football game in Louisiana. As night falls, the group decides to pull over and camp out in a field for the night. A truck drives up to their campsite, shining it's headlights on them, but the driver refuses to get out. The truck flees when Nick throws a beer bottle at it and the group goes to bed. In the morning, Carly and Paige go exploring in the woods. Carly falls down a hill into a pit full of dead animals and what appears to be a dead hand. the group tries to leave to find out that Wade's car will not start thanks to a broken fan belt. A disheveled redneck comes buy and pulls the hand out of the pile, revealing it to be fake. He drives Carly and Wade to the town of Ambrose, but they become uneasy being in his presence and decide to get out and walk to town. When they arrive in Ambrose, the town is virtually deserted. They find Bo (Brian Van Holt, S.W.A.T., Black Hawk Down), the town mechanic, who offers to fix their car. While they wait, Wade and Carly explore the House of Wax, a wax museum where literally everything is made out of wax. The statues are incredibly lifelike and downright scary. When they go to Bo's house, Wade is attacked by a long-haired man in a wax mask named Vincent (also Brian Van Holt). Vincent covers Wade in wax, turning him into a living wax sculpture. While waiting for Wade, Carly notices the truck from the night before in Bo's yard. She tries to escape, but Bo eventually captures her. At the same time, Nick and Dalton arrive in town looking for their friends. Dalton meets the same fate as Wade while Nick fights off Bo and gets to Carly. They discover that Bo and Vincent have been turning people into wax figures for years since the death of their mother. Meanwhile, Vincent goes to the campsite and kills Blake and Paige before pursuing Carly and Nick. How will they survive with two homicidal maniacs chasing them in a ghost town filled with creepy wax figures?

Whiter than a party at Mitt Romney's house

If you've seen the original House of Wax or just watched the movie's segment on Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments, you know that this remake has almost nothing to do with it. To say this is a loose interpretation is in fact a loose interpretation of the the saying “loose interpretation”. Other than the name of the movie and the setting in a wax museum, these two movies really have nothing in common. They try to give a nod to the original by naming one of the characters “Vincent” but that's not nearly enough. I wasn't expecting anything near the quality of the original movie (I mean, Paris Hilton is in the movie), but I assumed this version would at least have the same basic story. That's my fault for having common sense when it comes to remaking a horror movie. Instead, we get a borderline slasher/torture horror movie more in line with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre than House of Wax.

While that's incredibly disappointing, it's actually one of the few things the movie does right. It has a surprisingly good amount of gore and violence, far more than I expected. The blood and effects used in the movie are very good and made things entertaining. I was impressed with the actual house of wax in the movie, especially during the final chase scene. The story is rather plain and uninspired, playing out how you would expect. The movie tries to go for a few surprises, but the only garnered a mild shrug from me. House of Wax is actually a well-made movie, despite not actually being a good movie. The sets look great and the direction is quite competent. The acting ranges from decent to bad and I probably don't need to tell you which actor belongs to which rating. While Paris Hilton isn't good, she's fairly tolerable in the movie, thanks in part to not being the main focus. 

What the hell are you smiling at?!

The idea behind remaking House Of Wax is a sound one. The younger generations have probably never seen the original and it's not ingrained in pop culture, like Friday The 13th or Halloween. It was a chance to bring a good horror story back to the screen, with updated effects and a fresh take. Unfortunately, this version decided to take the name, throw in some pretty actors and hope that people go see it. Well, they were right because the movie made about $70 million, so I guess I'm the idiot. Regardless, the movie is much closer to the slasher genre with it's chase scenes, jump-at-you surprises, and extreme violence. If you like blood and gore, you may actually appreciate certain scenes in House Of Wax. The acting is mostly tolerable, but the direction is good and the special effects are great. Maybe in a few years, we'll get a House Of Wax remake that will be more faithful to the source material.



  1. I've been following your blog since the beginning and have never commented. In most cases, I agree with your reviews. This one, however, I felt compelled to comment on. I've been a huge horror movie fan for 15+ years. I will say that it has been a good 15 years since I saw the original House of Wax, and yes, these two movies are totally different. The story lines are nothing alike. BUT. I thoroughly enjoyed the "reimagining". So I guess this comment is to anyone reading this review; give this movie a chance, even if you liked the original. Just know they're two different movies. It is no top-notch, 'silence of the lambs-esque' psychotic thriller but it is a decent, stand-alone, uniquely storied, horror flick. And entertaining enough to watch twice, which for me is a huge endorsement.

    Keep blogging, 365 Days. I genuinely enjoy your reviews, even when I disagree with them :-)

  2. Hi Erica, thank you for your comment. It's perfectly fine to disagree. I disagree with myself multiple times before publishing each review :).

    My main issue with the movie is the usage of the name "House Of Wax". There's a certain expectation when a classic movie is remade and I feel that the makers of this movie wrote it as an original movie and just slapped on the title in an effort to make money. While the remake of The Fly was certainly different from the 1950's version, it still retained the same feeling and essence of the original.

    The original House of Wax was one of Vincent Price's first horror movies and even had a young Charles Bronson in it. I was disappointed to see that this remake, beyond using the name and including wax figures, didn't really have anything to do with the source material. That's like remaking Dawn Of The Dead and just forgetting about the mall. There's been a glut of horror remakes in the past few years and most have been a cash grab. Even this movie tried to grab some cash by promoting it as "See Paris Die!"

    This version did have some good moments, thanks to the unexpected blood and gore. Essentially, it's a "teens chased in the woods" horror movie. If they decided to call it "Wax Museum" or something like that, I probably wouldn't have had as much of a problem. Of course, I still wouldn't have loved it since it ran too long, forced the characters to be stupid, and the brother storyline just didn't interest me.

    I don't disagree with what you said, but I just have certain expectations when a movie is remade. Thank you so much for reading (seriously, thank you) and for commenting. Feel free to comment on any other reviews, I read them all. If you have any requests for future reviews, email me at or message me on twitter at @365DaysOfHorror.