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[Good Scenes In Bad Movies] The ‘House Of Wax’ Edition

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!

We’re going to, on occasion, start examining decent scenes in otherwise bad movies. And we hope you’ll come along for the ride! Head inside for his take on House Of Wax!

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!



  • Erebus Dirge

    First of want to say , welcome and decent review.
    Secondly I have to agree that even there are far more shitier movies out there that get undeserved “Emperor’s-new-clothes” style of respect. The House of Wax remake which has the , tried, tested and tired kids-fall-a-foul of psycho-billies trope. It still has some of seriously inspired scenes towards the end and of course the part where our girl gets her finger casual removed by the villian as she stifles her scream to avoid detection deserves to considered amoungst some of the most memorable and effecting scenes of modern horror.

  • The Wolfman

    Thanks Evan! And thanks Erebus! I dig the opening scene in the first Scream, but I don’t think the sequels lived up to that (except maybe the meta opening scene in Scream 4). I hope you guys like the article, because there’s PLENTY more where this came from!

  • chris99x

    Hilton aside, I thought it was a decent horror flick, especially at the time. Not brilliant by any means, but also somewhat underrated.

    • The Wolfman

      Totally understand it fading into relative obscurity, but I think the gore was plenty more creative than most stuff currently in theaters.

  • Erebus Dirge

    Absoutelty Wolfman. Scream 1 opening killing scene was a shocker everything else that followed after was a cheap cash-in that increasingly became annoyingily self-referential and seemed to either forget or dillute the horrific Gallio-style murder of the first.

    Also about the Paris Hilton thing,something else occured to me. The part where is ” filmed with her head going down on a pole” could that be a sly referance to her own sex-tape at the time or is it pure cosmic coincidence?
    Curious to see what you come up with next Wolfman. Like someone once said – Sometimes in the foulest pieces of shit,if you look hard enough there’s still some peanuts and sweetcorn buried in there.

  • MahoganyButcher

    I loved the Scream movies to be honest…I don’t see them as getting crappier though. Was Craven made those movies as a sarcastic look at horror movies, and as horror movies have gotten cheesier and more ridiculous he has made his sarcastic movies more ridiculous in response, but as you can see in the first one, he nearly outright states that is a sarcastic look when Randy (Jamie Kennedy) states the rules of a horror movie.

    The House of Wax was a bit of fun in my opinion too, definitely underrated in just a fun/funny slasher film. @ erebus dirge I saw the same “sly reference” when I watched the movie.

    Wolfman, looking forward to some more awesome articles like this one.

  • I really enjoy this movie and I think for a horror remake, “starring” Paris Hilton it actually goes to some pretty dark places. The gore is fun and you really don’t know who will live or die by the end of it. The sibling aspect is kind of cool too.

    The achilles tendon scene always gets to me as well as the wirecutter scene. It’s not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but I think the setting, kills and setpieces are all pretty fun and Jaume Collet-Serra pulls it off with a cool visual style too.

  • WalkingDeadGuy

    I also liked this film. It’s not something to write home about, but certainly wasn’t “bad” in any way. The only thing that I could have done without, other than the casting of Paris Hilton, was the “twin” thing; it got old quick. But fun film.

  • Zombie-Killa

    Good read.

    As far as the House Of Wax remake goes, I never had a problem with it. I actually bought a while ago (it was only $2.99 at Fye, used version of course), and this remake has become a guilty pleasure for me. Lots of gore, sickening kills, and some genuine “Holy shit!” moments (Carly losing her finger and her cringing opening lips scene). The acting is decent enough, and there’s a nice cliffhanger at the very end.

  • staindFAN

    I like the House of Wax remake. It a fun film for sure. I saw it in theaters back in 2005 and own the DVD. I also own the Vincent Price version and enjoy that one as well.

  • The Wolfman

    Glad I’m not the only one to find some joy in a relatively pointless movie! I’d much rather this movie have been made, not at all being connected to the original House of Wax, than to have had them try to be a lot more similar to the early version.

  • I love this review. The one thing I do have to throw up is that the movie did have Jared Padalecki in a pretty decent role. Around that time his series, Supernatural, was starting to take off and gain a reputation which has seen it through to starting its 8th season next Friday. Also it never claimed to star Paris Hilton. She was a supporting cast member to 24 darling (and now apparently off the radar) Elesha Cuthbert.

    • The Wolfman

      Although the advertising might not have used the word “starring”, the fact that Paris Hilton was definitely the big seller. She was the first one cast and the rest of the actors were cast AROUND her, despite her small role.

    • djblack1313

      Gavin, don’t forget, SUPERNATURAL has moved from Fridays to Wednesdays from now on (starting on Oct 3rd)!!


    glad to see i’m not the only one who likes this movie. thanks for the heads up on the alternate beginning, wolfman. had no idea but just watched it on youtube and its WAY better than the theatrical

    • The Wolfman

      Yeah that alternate opening is worth the price of the DVD alone. Also, to watch behind the scenes footage and listen to Paris’s commentary on the situation is very insightful for anyone thinking of getting famous for releasing a sex tape.

  • kaido

    “Confession. I’ve never seen the House Of Wax remake. By most accounts it is terrible.” That being said, why not watch it and form an opinion on it. It’s not terrible, but it’s not greatness either.

  • Slasher_Lover23

    I actually love this movie it was a fun slasher with great deaths. The was good, especially Elisha Cuthbert and Chad Michael Murray. Jon Abrahams was a great a comedic character. Paris was pretty mediocre, but this was definitely her better acting compared to anything else she’s done, besides Repo. Honestly, I thought the black guy who played Blake was the worst actor. To me this movie is pretty underrated and the whole finale inside the melting house of wax was kick ass.

  • Nothing333

    This movie is surprisingly better than its reputation.

  • I always though this movie got a bad rap. Any horror movie that wants to go for the gusto gets a nod in my book. Plus Elisha Cuthbert just looking dirty the whole movie works for me.

  • ThunderDragoon

    I love House of Wax. It’s one of my favorite movies out of the 00’s

  • Mr.Mirage

    Ahem. (Approaches soap box. Realizes no one remembers what that means. Shrugs: getting old is a bitch.) *clears throat*

    House Of Wax with Vincent Price is a remake of the 1933 Mystery Of The Wax Museum starring Mr. Lionel Atwill and Ms. Fay Wray. There. That being said…

    Excellent review of an under-rated film. In fact, If you have the chance, I would strongly suggest an evening of Wax, if you will. I was in the middle of watching the Dark Castle production of it when I remembered I had picked up the Price version when the 2003 film came out but had not revisited it.

    Hitting pause, grabbing the Price version, I saw that the above mentioned 1933 Mystery was included on that disc, and thought, what the hell, let’s go back in time, watching each in reverse order of release.

    Every generation tells its tales around the campfire, and this marvelous, campy delight does its heritage quite proud, thank you all very much. Seeing how a different generation approaches the basic concept and then runs with it is rather enlightening.

    Granted, it immediately lead to my re-reading Jack Finney’s Body Snatchers, then watching Invasion, The Body Snatchers, The Invasion of The Body Snatchers (70’s with Donald Sutherland) and then the original. Seems we need a new snatching of bodies every two decades or so…

    But: to the subject at hand… While Ms. Hilton is IMHO a sad reminder that Andy Warhol was not only right but a master of horror in his prediction, she was rather decent in the film itself. I failed to see it at the theater primarily because it was a PH “vehicle” and really could not have been warned away more blatantly. Sitting through it on DVD ($5 Wally World stack is the place to be from late September to the week before Halloween), I was deeply disappointed with myself: it was a Dark Castle production, and deserved better treatment by me.

    Again: good review. Keep up the good work! (Hopefully you will get paid… or at least laid!)

    • The Wolfman

      I thought about including the fact that the Vincent Price version is a remake as well, but figured I’d avoid the defense of the concept of remakes. Glad you pointed it out though! Thanks for reading!

  • Remember-Slithis

    The Gore was good.The film is watchable.I’ve seen it twice.There is allot worse horror remakes out there.Nice Article.

  • djblack1313

    Wolfman, great review/write up! i look forward to reading more of your articles in the future!

    i really like this movie. the cast overall (especially Cuthbert, Padalecki, Chad Murray & Brian Van Holt playing both Bo & Vincent) was very good and i was elated and surprised that Paris (who i don’t hate but if i never see her on tv or in newspapers, etc ever again, it will be too soon) wasn’t bad at all and even MORE importantly she didn’t ruin the movie or have me cringing/eye rolling during her parts. her death scene was so unflinching how violent it was and instead of cutting to another scene/location once she was dead, the makers of the movie brilliantly (& bravely IMO) have Vincent(?) go over & push her head down the spike (filmed with the camcorder which made it even that much more horrific).

    the kills are all good to excellent & brutal. and Wolfman, i TOTALLY forgot about that alternate scene with the stranded woman!!! that kill IS FUCKING BRUTAL BRUTAL BRUTAL imo!!

    & lastly director Jaume Collet-Serra (& his cinematographer!)’s visual style helped elevate/add some visual class (so to speak) to the film! the cinematography is beautiful & rich and the musical score was very good!

  • mav07

    they weren’t trying to market this film on Paris Hiltons acting/likability. They knew people wanted to see her die a horrible death so thats what they gave them. Paris was obviously aware of this, if not then she’s a complete retard. They even joked about her sex tape in the film with the scene of her and her boyfriend in the tent with the video camera.

    I thought the movie was well made all around, can’t put all the blame on Hilton.

    • The Wolfman

      Whether she knew that she was cast just for the sake of dying or not, Paris Hilton is DEFINITELY a complete idiot.

  • diapers

    I was one of the few that highly enjoyed this film. I rented it expecting to simply enjoy a train wreck, but the tried and true formula of dumb kids, partying, and gore was well done (in my opinion). And yes… Paris’ demise was top notch! House of Wax kinda reminds me of Blood Night that way. Painful plot and acting, yet entertaining kills and gore.

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