HOME |  JOIN |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Chasing the Dragon
Into the Forest
Limehouse Golem, The
Frankenstein '80
Good Time
Bucket of Blood, A
Detroit
Hide and Seek
What Happened to Monday
River Wild, The
Veteran
Slumber Party '57
Juliette, or Key of Dreams
Summertime Killer
Sweet Virginia
Ben & Arthur
Your Name
Red Hot Shot, The
New World
Trick Baby
Weapons of Death
Second Best Secret Agent in the Whole Wide World, The
Kills on Wheels
Strait-Jacket
This Man is Dangerous
Burning Paradise
Away
Mistress of the Apes
Incredible Paris Incident
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
   
 
Newest Articles
Apocalypse 80s UK: Threads and When the Wind Blows
Movie Flop to Triumphant TV Revival: Twin Peaks and The League of Gentlemen
Driving Force: The Golden Age of American Car Chases
Madness in his Method: Jim Carrey and Andy Kaufman
Music, Love and Flowers: Monterey Pop on Blu-ray
The Melville Mood: His Final Two Films on The Melville Collection Blu-ray
Always Agnès: 3 from The Varda Collection Blu-ray
Re: Possession of Vehicles - Killer Cars, Trucks and a Vampire Motorcycle
The Whicker Kicker: Whicker's World Vols 5&6 on DVD
The Empress, the Mermaid and the Princess Bride: Three 80s Fantasy Movies
   
 
  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 5745 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
Who's the best?
Robin Askwith
Mark Wahlberg
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Enoch Sneed
Andrew Pragasam
Paul Shrimpton
  Rachel Franke
Jason Cook
Darren Jones
Keith Rockmael
   

 

Last Updated: