Works of lifelike art within a horrific 'House of Wax'

05:00 AM, Sep 29, 2013

Vincent Price stars in the 1953 horror film "House of Wax," which has a 60th-anniversary Blu-ray out Tuesday. Warner Home Video/


Written By by Brian Truitt, USA TODAY

If anyone steals the original horror film House of Wax from the legendary Vincent Price, it’s Katherine Stubergh.

The Los Angeles artist specialized in lifelike wax figures in the early 1950s, and her work came to the big screen via the original 1953 House of Wax, which arrives on a new 60th anniversary 3-D Blu-ray Tuesday.

One of the release’s new bonus features showcases Stubergh’s figures used for the movie, including historical folks such as Joan of Arc, John Wilkes Booth and Marie Antoinette. The latter is the museum masterwork of ace sculptor Henry Jarrod (Price), but he watches in horror as all of his pieces are burned to a crisp — as is a good bit of his own body — in a fire caused by his partner.

After surviving, Jarrod completes a house of horrors with more wax figures, though with a much more murderous origin behind them.

The wax figures, they have an almost creepy effect in the film,” says Oscar-winning director Martin Scorsese, who appears in the House of Wax feature. “You expect them to turn and move and speak. So when you see them burning, it’s really disturbing, particularly the way it keeps cutting back to the melting away and the heads falling.

The flames themselves, because of the sense of death, you really get a sense literally of being in the scene with them. It was like watching people you like and know melt away.”

The Blu-ray for House of Wax, the first color 3-D movie from a major studio, also features a commentary, theatrical trailer and the 1933 film the classic was based on, Mystery of the Wax Museum.