Confession. I’ve never seen the House Of Wax remake. By most accounts it is terrible. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean every single frame of it is bad! I know there are plenty of moments I love in otherwsie sh*tty movies. And that’s precisely the point The Wolfman (@TheWolfmanCometh – on the boards) aims to illustrate here in his first column for Bloody-Disgusting!
When House of Wax came out in 2005, it had the deck stacked against it. It was a “remake” of a famous Vincent Price horror movie, it had a relatively unknown supporting cast, and the most famous cast member was Paris Hilton. Some would argue that the scariest thing about the movie was reading “Paris Hilton” on the movie’s poster, but I digress. The movie didn’t do all that well at the box office and faded away into relative obscurity along with a number of mid-2000’s horror films. The mention of the film typically results in moans and groans. Despite all of this, I own this movie on DVD, and have no shame in letting people see it as part of my collection. What could possibly justify this? Well, sit down by the campfire, and I’ll tell you all about it.
I don’t think the word “remake” ever makes someone run out to see a film, especially a horror film. That holds especially true when it’s a remake of something considered to be a classic, but if you’ve seen the two movies, you know that this is mostly a remake in name alone. The similarities begin and end at the plot point of (spoiler alert) a killer encasing his villains in wax. Almost every other plot point is different in here than it was in 1953. And even though none of those plot changes are necessarily good, hopefully diehard fans of the Vincent Price version will be relieved to know they did nothing to attempt to recreate the magic of one of the very first 3D movies. Although some people would argue that the thought of sleeping with Paris Hilton is as enticing as sleeping with Vincent Price! Yes, I know Mr. Price is dead, which is why the comparison is accurate. Even though this could be considered a “Paris Hilton vehicle”, she only has a supporting role, and is ultimately vanquished by the killer. Also, it’s one of the best deaths of the movie! This is what leads me to why this movie is worth watching: the ridiculous violence.
Unlike the opening scenes in something like the Scream movies*, where the famous actress is killed off in a lame way, Paris has a sharp rusty pipe thrown into her skull. If that wasn’t enough, this causes her to fall forwards ONTO the pipe, shoving it all the way through, which was very reminiscent to Jason’s machete death at the end of Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter. From ripping the skin off of newly waxed character’s faces, to multiple beheadings, to fingertips being cut off with wirecutters, to a character’s mouth being superglued shut, the people who came up with the violent gags really went for it and succeeded with matching the violent absurdity with the absurdity of Paris Hilton trying to act. What really takes the cake, however, is a scene which is on the DVD as the original opening for the movie. The theatrical opening involves seeing two little kids, one good, one bad, having a hectic breakfast. Boring, yes, but that opening ties into some plot elements later on. The deleted, alternate, opening shows a woman having car trouble and a creepy pickup truck stopping by. We’ve seen scenes like this before, and they all play out in relatively similar ways. With House of Wax, they go a slightly different direction. The driver of the pickup truck decides to speed up next to the woman in distress, grab her by the back of the head (one-handed, mind you), and speed up to her own car, dragging her alongside it. He then throws her face first through her own car’s windshield. Even though this scene wasn’t actually in the movie, once you know it exists you have a much greater appreciation for the people responsible for all the other violent gags in the film. It changes the tone from a cheap cash-in of a famous movie to a fun, violent slasher with completely disposable characters.
*Editor’s note: I actually think the opening deaths in Scream and Scream 2 are fairly brutal. Discuss!