HALLOWEEN UPDATE: HOUSE OF WAX DVD REVIEW
Know what the problem with eighties slasher movies was? They led to the nineties. Finally someone goes back to what made fans flock to the theaters. Those of you who know of my Christian sensibilties will wonder how on earth I can recomend a film as graphically violent as House of Wax? Simple. It knows what it is- a cinematic equivalent of the same spooky campfire stories they tell at Bible Camp. If you didn't go to that kind of Bible Camp sorry but like George Romero said "If you can't see the humor in dead people eating other people I can't help you." Some people think this stuff is fun and some people think it's a sign of the end times. Me? I say if you can't see the humor in dipping Paris Hilton into a vat of boiling wax and stripping the flesh slowly off her bones as she screams helplessly and feeding the remains to her beloved Tinkerbelle who you then....well you get the idea. Movies don't get anymore absurd but horror movies rarely get as fun.
HOUSE OF WAX
Warner Home Video
I complain a lot about American horror movies precisely because they are dull. I would rather be grossed out, or even offended than be bored. So why do filmmakers keep making horror movies devoid of horror? Or fun? “Make Me Think or Make Me Puke” would be a great bumper sticker for us horror fans precisely because such an over the top sentiment describes what we love best about the experience of watching a good horror movie. It can provoke us on the deepest level of imagination and worldview only to turn on us with a well-placed gotcha, provoke us emotionally- wake us up. The squeamish- and there’s no shame in that- need not apply. But for those who want to do more than whistle in the dark horror films hold all sorts of fascination.
Take House of Wax. I didn’t expect much but this a rollicking, gross out throw back to the early eighties slasher film. Will House of Wax stand up to the reputation of that era’s great films? Probably not. But it is a heck of a lot of fun featuring some of the best special effects and sets in an American Horror film in years. The story? Pure cheese but the kind of cheese that goes down well when everything else is done right in your movie pizza.
With poster/dvd cover art clearly intended to represent cast member Paris Hilton melting fans waited patiently to see if this would be another pointlessly tame retread but what we got was hard R body count. Normally that alone wouldn’t impress me. But this was a movie bent on having fun with its conventions. We didn’t just get a Paris Hilton death we got a spectacular one. The deaths in this movie all made me cringe and laugh precisely because they were so over the top it was clear the filmmakers remembered how it was to be a teenager yelling, “Oh no they didn’t” at the screen. And when the movie does dwell on the actual House of Wax it generates great atmosphere.
The one thoughtful moment in the film was telling. A lot of these films throw in unnecessary t & a because they know their core audience will eat it up. To be blunt I find that manipulative and cheap. There is none in House of Wax. There are a couple of sexual jokes and Paris does a little dance in her red hot pants but that stuff is tame enough it was used in the green band trailer for the film. But the film’s casting of Paris Hilton is interesting in light of the fact that she is filmed almost constantly. By the time the killer picks up a video camera and film’s her twitching corpse the point is made- don’t we all have better things to do than watch Paris Hilton twitch?
The extras on this disc are great. The movies central conceit, the casting of Paris Hilton, is belabored by the fact that she is filmed almost constantly. B-Roll and Bloopers, Video Cast Commentary, From Location: Joel Silver Reveals House of Wax, Wax On: The Design of House of Wax, The House Built on Wax: The Visual Effects of House of Wax Alternate Opening: Jennifer Killed, Gag Reel and Theatrical Trailer