“Each subject must be taken from life… How can I convince my audience they’re alive if I don’t believe it myself?”
When his unscrupulous business partner (Roy Roberts) burns down his beloved wax statues, the badly disfigured Professor Jarrod (Vincent Price) enlists the help of a deaf-mute (Charles Bronson) and an alcoholic ex-con (Nedrick Young) in killing Roberts and creating new masterpieces — this time using corpses as models. Soon, however, a young woman (Phyllis Kirk) notices that a statue of Joan of Arc looks just like her murdered roommate (Carolyn Jones), and begins to suspect foul deeds.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Carolyn Jones Films
- Charles Bronson Films
- Disfigured Faces
- Frank Lovejoy Films
- Mad Doctors and Scientists
- Vincent Price Films
Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary votes this enormously popular Warnercolor extravaganza the “best 3-D movie” ever made, noting that — despite its flaws — it possesses a “nice mix of humor and chills”. He applauds director Andre de Toth’s gimmicky use of 3-D — a barker throws paddle balls right at the audience:
… can-can girls kick their legs out —
… and it’s certainly easy to imagine audiences at the time being thrilled by these scenes; nowadays, however — watching it on DVD rather than in the theater — the 3-D effects aren’t all that impressive. Instead, it’s Vincent Price (in his first horror role) who is the true draw of the movie — he’s so earnestly campy that we can’t help feeling awful for him when his beloved statues (his friends) are cruelly “killed”; and we certainly understand his desire for bitter revenge. Unfortunately, Phyllis Kirk as the female lead is bland, and can’t hold a candle to spunky Glenda Farrell in the original version of the film — which (unlike Peary) I find the superior of the two. With that said, this remake remains a “must see” film in its own right.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Vincent Price as Professor Jarrod (chatting here with “John Wilkes Boothe”)
- The wax museum burning down (though the same scene in the original film is even creepier)
- Kirk’s late-night walk through the new museum
Yes, for its historical relevance as an enormously popular 3-D film, and as the movie that began Vincent Price’s career as a horror icon. Discussed at length in Peary’s Cult Movies (1981).