Saturday, 27 November 2010



The wax museum has had a long and impressive history in horror movies, from the 1950s classic House Of Wax (itself a remake of the 1930s Mystery Of The Wax Museum) to the tiresome non-classic House Of Wax with the meaningless Paris Hilton. There's Sergio Stivaletti's Maschera Di Cera (Wax Mask) with writing input from two Italian horror icons Dario Argento AND Lucio Fulci, which was enjoyably gloopy fun, and not forgetting Anthony Hickox's gory if ramshackle portmanteau Waxwork (and its less effective continuation Waxwork II: Lost In Time).

You could perhaps include Carry On Screaming on that list, as it's hard not to echo Kenneth Williams' "Frying tonight!" upon seeing the giant bubbling wax vat in Cameron Mitchell's basement here. Nightmare In Wax has genre veteran Mitchell as an embittered wax sculptor, driven from his love (Anne Helm) and his job as a film make-up wizard after being horribly burned in a spiteful attack. But could Mitchell, now the hideously scarred, one-eyed owner of the Hollywood Wax Museum, have anything to do with the mysterious and unsolved disappearances of so many of Helm's colleagues and, most recently, her fiancé? And are some of those waxworks actually moving?

If you seriously imagine the answer to either of those questions could be "No", then you're watching the wrong film. Mitchell rants at the "heads" in his basement, hypnotises his victims and tries valiantly to distract attention from his obviously stick-on scars. It's luridly coloured (it was made in 1969), it's cheap and efficiently enough done, it's scarcely any kind of classic, but it's energetic and has a suitably bonkers final reel. Overall I rather liked it, perhaps a bit more than I expected.


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