DVD Rackhttp://chud.com/nextraimages/waxcover.jpgBUY IT AT AMAZON: CLICK HERE!
STUDIO: Warner Bros.
MSRP: $28.99
RUNNING TIME: 113 min.
B-Roll/Blooper commentary
Joel Silver featurette
The Design of House of Wax
The Visual Effects of House of Wax
Alternate opening

The Pitch

“Wait a minute, those aren’t just realistic wax sculptures… they’re the bodies of the living turned into the wax effigies of the damned! Oh shit, that’s hardcore. How does my hair look?”

The Humans

Chad Michael Murray, Elisha Cuthbert, Brian Van Holt, Jon Abrahams, Paris Hilton, Jared Padalecki.

The Nutshell

Torquemada’s Nail Salon had limited space, but memorable results…

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre motif is applied to the House of Wax film armature by the Dark Castle folks, combining the deranged family aspect to the ghost town aspect to the troubled youth amok aspect, resulting in a surprisingly violent and rather disturbing little movie.

A handful of young folks arrive to camp and screw before going to a concert and are trapped in the middle of nowhere with an animal killing fields on one side and a town populated by waxy bipeds on the other. One thing leads to another and soon these young people are either hating life or no longer among its sweet graces.

…not unlike Jose Flames’ Breast Clinic.

The Lowdown

It’s pretty good!

I was totally surprised to see what is excruciatingly bad teen dialogue and situations (oh, man he’s troubled and she’s pregnant and they’re brother and sister!) turned around into a rather lean and mean horror flick. While there are a few moments where the musical cue is an annoying song geared towards selling soundtracks and the presence of Paris Hilton assures a gimmicky nature to the proceedings, the bulk of the movie feels rather aggressive and almost like an MTV version of an exploitation flick.

The main reason for this is a willingness for the filmmakers (this one’s lensed by newcomer Jaume Collet-Serra) to make the violence hurt. It’s never cool here or played for a laugh, though some of the stuff does deserve a little grin for its viciousness or who it’s happening to. The plot is irrelevant, but the film does a good job of shuffling the extraneous shit to the back and letting the skin and wax fly freely.

Elisha Cuthbert loses the blonde and plays a sullen young lass whose brother (A Cinderella Story’s Chad Michael Murray, not to be confused with Larry Ken Matt or Pontius Mauricio Brad) is a police interview away from the slam. Jared Padalecki is her boyfriend with the bad haircut and the generic early 80’s shirt who means well. Paris Hilton is a rather vacant lass and her boyfriend (Robert Ri’chard, a victim of the typo virus) is the mouthy African-American character these sorts of movies apparently are required to have. Jon Abrahams is the rough around the edges comic relief character, though he’s unrecognizable from his Drugs Delaney and Scary Movie days.

The villain of the piece, or villains, is a pair of once conjoined brothers played by action vet Brian Van Holt, the savior of the film. One is a wax-wearing freak of nature named Vincent who also has a gift with the waxy stuff, having created a whole house made of the stuff complete with a host of very life-like patrons. One of them is obviously a Jamie Kennedy life cast made into a black guy, which is both cool and freaky. Another looks a good bit like Chris Kattan, but these aren’t the famous people made into the sticky stuff like in the Vincent Price original.

No, these are people who have been messed up and then given the business by the brothers in a bizarre but scary machine that’d make Ugnaughts jealous.

"Friggin’ OW!"………."Keep it down, bimbo. I’m trying to watch Nightbreed!"

The movie has no qualms making messy work of its stars and the brutality is on in full force. There are also a few scenes of carnage (like the outdoor deer pit that is just too grimy to imagine) that tell us that the Dark Castle folks have recovered from the stench and toothlessness of Gothika. This is pretty rough stuff, much more edgy than the Wrong Turns of the world.

It’s not especially smart, but it’s vicious and though it runs longer than most horror flicks it doesn’t feel like it. Good production value, very good grue, and a lack of cop-outs make it one to recommend for a good, low risk Friday night rental.

Plus, Brian Van Holt (channeling early Bill Paxton) is the right kind of actor for a film like this. He does a good job of being a sick fuck but with charm. I’m proud to say that House of Wax ranks right up there with The House on Haunted Hill in my personal Dark Castle collection.

Give it a shot and tell me that there’s not some genuinely cool stuff.

There’s a nice array for special features, one of which is like ol’ Smilin’ Jack Ruby’s own nightmares where Joel Silver gives a little promotional speech before meeting a messy end. There’s a rather boring video commentary with the stars and a really nice special effects segment.

The cream of the crop is a deleted intro to the film and perhaps my favorite kill in the movie even though it does feel like it belongs more in Final Destination 2.

7.0 out of 10

Of all the villains in the Marvel Universe, why did they have to feature Cheek Ejector as the heavy in Daredevil 2?