House of Wax (2005)
(Release Date: May 6, 2005)

2 Stars... Totally unoriginal.2 Stars... Totally unoriginal.

House of Whacks has been sculpted before!

Waxy Critic...
J.C. Mašek III
The World's Greatest Critic!

Apparently the goal in this latest crop of horror films is to come up with one original angle, then stretch that idea across the pilfered plot of any other lame horror flick with a modicum of profitability and let the whole thing write itself. Oh, don't forget to cast a whole gaggle of good looking twentysomething TV Stars from edgy programming from the WB and Fox! In the case of House of Wax the "new" idea is having all the victims of the now-standard slasher killer covered in wax and perfectly preserved as realistic mannequins in one hell of a creepy Wax Museum. Unfortunately, that's the only vaguely original thing in the whole movie... and let's face it, even that is really just a riff on a theme that's been done to death, death, death! (And to get real... the same theme was done better in the 1953 original).

This looks like Paris Hilton, but it's snot!

Of course, we've been gifted with appearances by virtually everyone under 30 from the WB and Fox. There's the lovely Elisha Cuthbert from Fox's 24, Chad Michael Murray from the WB's One Tree Hill, Paris Hilton from Fox's The Simple Life, Jared Padalecki from the WB's Gilmore Girls and Jon Abrahams from Fox's Boston Public!

So, how about that plot? Well, what we get is load of attractive teenagers on a trek from Florida to Louisiana on the way to the biggest football game since Perseus played the Kraken! Along the way, the kids come across a small town off the beaten path which features a family of killers who prey upon any forlorn travelers who happen upon them in varying horrible ways, and collect their cars so as not to arouse suspicion. These kiddos are next on the proverbial menu! The intrepid female lead fights the good fight until we can pretty much envision what's going to happen. Sound familiar? Yeah, this is just the latest of the many, many, many films to rip off the plot of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The main difference? Instead of eating their hapless victims, the family perfectly preserves them in their ancestral "House of Wax" museum, and instead of the lumbering, deformed, monstrous killer wearing a leather mask, we're given a lumbering, deformed, monstrous killer wearing a wax mask. Totally new, no?

Folks, this is as predictable as a porn film with as much originality as the debut album from that band Kingdom Come! It's also mean-spirited and gory for the sake of gore. If you've seen any film of the Genre in the last 4 years, you've seen this one, and can guess what's going to happen to the main character, her "evil" twin brother and each of the other poorly developed kids.

Still, one doesn't walk into a film like House of Wax intent on gaining material for a doctoral dissertation. No, House of Wax is aimed at those who want to jump out of their seats, to be startled if not scared, to be surprised and laugh because of it. In this area, House of Wax delivers. No, there's no real building of terror or any sort of Hitchcock suspense, however, there is the approach of silence before the bad guy jumps out of the shadows accompanied by a loud blast from the score. Yeah, it's just another teen slasher film, but even I can admit that it's kind of fun!

Paris Hilton's strip-tease down to her red bra and panties is nice. She's hot in that cross between spoiled rich kid and sleazy babe way. Strangely she's never actually nude, which is odd because... well, folks, she's not shy! Further, Elisha Cuthbert is beautiful, and she's really a fine actress. It's hard not to root for the girl as she slashes a one-woman swath through the creepiest of all backwoods towns accompanied only occasionally by an erstwhile ally or two.

Still, fun or not, this just isn't a great movie. Setting aside the impractical idea of a multi-story building in the muggy South actually made out of wax and staying intact for decades, it's just an unrealistic, silly retread like any other teen slasher flick. It's hard to even quantify the many movies this one rips off like a velcro fly, and believe you me, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre isn't the only one! But taken for all with all, House of Wax gets Two Stars out of Five! I think the biggest insult about what they did with this thing is that technically this is a remake of the 1953 Warner Brothers 3-D thriller House of Wax starring Vince Price (story writer Charles Belden even gets a credit). You had your plot RIGHT THERE, already written, but you ripped off TCM anyway? Come ON! Eventually either the producers or the fans of these derivative horror flicks are going to seek me out, kill me and eat me for writing such scathing reviews because I know there's something better out there. Should this come to pass, I authorize my readers to make a movie out of the whole thing, making sure to use the cast of Veronica Mars and Life as we Know It, peppered with a few appearances by anybody from Everwood! Until that day, I'll see you in the next reel!

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They're so sculpted and lifelike!

House of Wax (2005) Reviewed by J.C. Mašek III who is solely responsible for his own views and for the success of the Hollywood Wax Museum.
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