HOME |  JOIN |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Kirlian Witness, The
Kid for Two Farthings, A
The Freshman
Hear My Song
Wild Wild West
Cure
Doraemon: Nobita and the Green Giant Legend
Locke the Superman
Psycho
Magic Flute, The
Top Secret
Ghost Punting
Hitman's Bodyguard, The
Touch, The
Akko's Secret
Backfire
Loving Vincent
Adventures of the Wilderness Family, The
Plot of Fear
Desperate Chase, The
Baskin
Time and Tide
X - Night of Vengeance
Bunny Drop
Acts of Vengeance
Asura: The City of Madness
In This Corner of the World
Dirty Pair: Project Eden
Pyewacket
Disaster Artist, The
   
 
Newest Articles
The Cinematic Darkside of Donald Crowhurst
Flodder - Brood
Coming of Age: Boys on Film 18 - Heroes on DVD
Country and Irish - The secret history of Irish pop culture
Wash All This Scum Off the Streets: Vigilante Movies
Force the Issue: Star Wars' Tricky Middle Prequels and Sequels
Rediscovered: The Avengers - Tunnel of Fear on DVD
Sword Play: An Actor's Revenge vs Your Average Zatoichi Movie
Super Sleuths: The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes on DVD
Stop That, It's Silly: The Ends of Monty Python
They're All Messed Up: Night of the Living Dead vs Land of the Dead
The House, Black Magic and an Oily Maniac: 3 from 70s Weird Asia
80s Meet Cute: Something Wild vs Into the Night
Interview with The Unseen Director Gary Sinyor
Wrong Forgotten: Is Troll 2 Still a Thing?
   
 
  Mystery of the Wax Museum Worth The CandleBuy this film here.
Year: 1933
Director: Michael Curtiz
Stars: Lionel Atwill, Fay Wray, Glenda Farrell, Frank McHugh, Allen Vincent, Gavin Gordon, Edwin Maxwell, Holmes Herbert, Claude King, Arthur Edmund Carewe
Genre: Horror
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: The time: 1921. The place: London. One night, sculptor Ivan Igor (Lionel Atwill) is showing two gentlemen around his wax museum, which depicts various figures of historical importance such as Marie Antoinette, Joan of Arc and Voltaire. The gentlemen promise to recommend Igor's work to the Royal Academy, such is its quality, but after they leave, Igor's business partner arrives with bad news - they've run out of money and he plans to set fire to the museum to collect the insurance. Igor is horrified, and a struggle ensues, which ends with the wax figures going up in flames as the sculptor lies in the wreckage...

Believed lost for many years until the sixties, this was the first and possibly the best of the subgenre of mad wax museum owner horrors, and was scripted by Don Mullaly and Claude Erickson from Charles Belden's story. It was filmed in an early Technicolor process, lending it a distinctively eerie look in shades of green and red, and it's not short of incident, being one of the fastest paced chillers of the period, or indeed, any era. Warners, who made the film, were at the time known for their social realism, and when the action moves forward to New Year's Day, 1933, in New York, you could be forgiven for thinking you were watching one of their newspaper pictures - as the wisecracking reporter, Florence, star Glenda Farrell could have stepped straight out of Five Star Final or similar.

When we reach the thirties, Florence is threatened with losing her job by her argumentative boss (Frank McHugh) if she doesn't get hold of a story before the night is over. Luckily for her, but unluckily for the victim, the fiancée of a millionaire has just committed suicide by poison, and Florence goes straight down to the morgue to hear the autopsy. However, we see a disfigured character break into the morgue and steal the body, and when Florence finds out, she can barely contain her excitement. There's almost too much plot to fit in, and you'd be forgiven for needing to sit through the film twice to follow the connections and consequences.

Although Ivan Igor is by now wheelchair bound, his hands ruined by the inferno, he nevertheless continues working with the help of assistants to whom he dictates his every wish. We know that he's a little barmy from the start, where he chats away to Marie Antoinette as if she were real, and when he sees Florence's room mate Charlotte (Fay Wray in an archetypal "victimised beauty" performance) he is struck by the resemblance between her and his lost wax figure. As a viewer, you tend to be one step ahead - of course Igor, in Atwill's committed performance, has something to do with the missing body, as does his new wax museum, but as he shuns the more gruesome happenings from history, nobody suspects him of foul play.

Nobody except Florence, of course, and Farrell is a lot of fun to watch (and listen to) as she trades gags with the others, jumps at a toad while investigating the museum, or appropriates a few bottles of bootlegged whisky as compensation for her jitters. The film was made just before censorship was cracking down on American films, so it's interesting to hear Florence cheerfully ask a policeman, "How's your sex life?", or learn the suicide dabbled in drugs. One of Igor's henchmen is a junkie as well, and his interrogation depends on denying him his fix. Also interesting is that there's no real hero: Florence screams when faced with horror (not as much as Charlotte, naturally), and the two potential male leads singularly fail to make a dent in the villain's schemes. Handsome to look at - check out Igor's lab, complete with a bubbling jacuzzi of liquid wax - and with a great atmosphere, Mystery of the Wax Museum may not be a top notch horror of the day, with too many distractions, but it's one of the fondest remembered.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 5838 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which film has the best theme song?
Spectre
The Ups and Downs of a Handyman
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
George White
Darren Jones
  Butch Elliot
Andrew Pragasam
Enoch Sneed
  Mark Scampion
  Frank Michaels
   

 

Last Updated: