Along with Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954), House of Wax, a redo of Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933), became the most famous film of the 1950s 3-D era.
In addition, it brought stardom to Vincent Price. Although he had roles in such films as Tower of London (1939) and The Invisible Man Returns (1940), it was this film which made Price world famous and ensured that he’d have a long distinguished acting career, mainly in the horror genre.
Here he played Henry Jarrod, a curator of a wax museum who adores his creations. However, his business partner (Roy Roberts) becomes overly anxious for a possible new business deal and burns Jarrod’s works of art to the ground and leaving him for dead.
However, some time later, Jarrod re-emerges into society with a new wax museum. As his hands were lost in the fire, he is assisted by deaf mute Ygor (Charles Buchinsky, better known as Charles Bronson). Jarrod’s new works include recreations of recent murders, including the one of his former partner, who is killed by a mysteriously cloaked figure.
However, a woman (Phyllis Kirk) slowly becomes convinced that Jarrod’s recreation of Joan of Arc is really her dead friend (Carolyn Jones, before she gained TV stardom with The Addams Family), who was also killed by the same hooded figure, and is now encased in wax. Soon, she learns that Jarrod is eyeing her to be the basis for his recreation of Marie Antoinette.
As he would do with many of his performances, Price is clearly having the time of his life onscreen.
One of the most famous scenes in the film, though, is the paddle ball man Jarrod hires to entertain guests awaiting entry into his museum.
Just keep away from the 2005 remake.