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House of Wax (2005)
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Insert generic Paris Hilton joke here."
1 stars

“House of Wax” is 105 minutes of pure, unbridled sadism and hate that aims for the lowest common denominator and misses by a mile. It is vile, ugly, repellent, brutal, idiotic and annoyingly self-referential and the only thing more depressing than the film itself the idea that there might actually be people out there willing to squander good money on its unspeakably bleak and appalling imagery. Okay, maybe it isn’t that bad but even considering the grim standards that the horror genre has stooped to in the last few months, this film could well be a new low-water mark. If you doubt me, let us consider some of the more questionable aspects that I noticed while slumping down in my seat out of sheer embarrassment.

1. The film claims to be a remake of the beloved 1953 Vincent Price 3-D classic (the story was also filmed with Fay Wray and Lionel Atwill in 1932 as “Mystery of the Wax Museum”). However, anyone looking for a straightforward adaptation is out of luck; the closest thing that the film gets to the previous version (besides the basic gimmick of people being killed and turned into wax dummies) is that the sadistic serial killer at the heart of the story has, in one of the more misguided attempts at homage that I can recall, has been named “Vincent,” a tribute that will no doubt thrill his family, friends and the lawyers representing his estate. (And no, while there is a character named Carly (Elisha Cuthbert), no one appears to be named after Price’s co-star, the equally legendary Charles Bronson.)

2. That isn’t to say that it doesn’t borrow elements from other, more successful horror films. From Brian De Palma’s classic “Sisters,” it borrows a crucial plot twist revolving around Vincent’s history. From Georges Franju’s immortal “Eyes Without a Face,” it takes the idea of a killer running around wearing a featurless mask. From the less-than-classic-but-wildly-profitable remake of “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre,” it borrows both that film’s complete lack of moral grounding and, more importantly, the skimpy wife-beater that Cuthbert is forced to slip into for the second half of the film after taking a header into something that literally resembles the final chute at the old Chicago Stockyards.

3. In the earlier films, the House of Wax was a wax museum where the mad killer displayed his grisly wares to the creeped-out delight of his unsuspecting patrons. There is such a place in this one as well, though it is so isolated that it doesn’t appear to have been visited in years, but it seems as if the production design team wasn’t paying too much attention when they were going through the screenplay and apparently misunderstood the directions. Not only have they created a wax museum called the House of Wax, they have made it so that it actually is a fully functional house that is supposedly constructed entirely out of wax, not unlike that coffee table book of Kramer’s that turned into a coffee table itself. Just as a precaution, I would strongly advise against hiring these guys to build you a House of Pancakes anytime soon.

4. Some of you are probably thinking, “Hey, a house made of wax sounds kind of cool!” and I will admit that the finale, in which the entire joint slowly melts thanks to a timely fire, does have a few visually arresting moments. However, what I have failed to point out is that this house of wax is located somewhere in the Deep South, a land whose climate would seem to be in opposition to anyone hoping to use parrafin as a central building material. If the film had been set in Minnesota, on the other hand, I might have bought it..

5. Those of you who are still intrigued by the wax house idea will have plenty of time to ponder it before it finally makes its first on-screen appearance. Even though I presume that there is not a single person who will be attending the film who doesn’t know its basic premise, director Jaume Serra takes 35 minutes of screen time before finally arriving at the title destination and then waits another half-hour before getting around to bumping off the relatively tiny cast. In other words, gorehounds can easily skip the first hour of the film and not miss anything. (Normal moviegoers, on the other hand, can skip the first 105 minutes and get the same effect.)

6. As many of you probably know, the best-known name in the cast is the redoubtable Paris Hilton, who appears as Carly’s nubile pal and is rewarded with the longest and most sadistic murder sequence. You would think that this would be a surefire moment of excitement for most viewers (Warner Brothers seems to think so as they seem to be basing their entire publicity campaign for the film around the idea of seeing her getting bumped off) but the scene is so unsavory and nasty that whatever fun might have derived from it is quickly stripped away. To make matters worse, the scene is topped with an awesomely tasteless visual gag that is so beyond the pale that you’ll come away thinking that even she deserved a little better. Then again, considering that the film crams two sex-tape references in the first ten minutes, that final image shouldn’t have come as that much of a surprise. (Truth be told, her performance is no better or worse than the kind you normally find in trash like this, though I don’t think we’ll be seeing her in “The English Patient” anytime soon.)

7. What will comes as a surprise is the surprising level of brutality in the film. People are ripped apart, thrown face-first into roadkill, spindled, glued skewered and, in the most unpleasant moment (one stolen directly, I might add from Herschell Gordon Lewis’s “2000 Maniacs”), one has her fingertip off-handedly sliced off. Even confirmed horror buffs–the kind who rejoice at the delightful depravities of De Palma or Argento–will be put off by the repulsive carnage on display here.

8. At one point, we are treated to an extended clip of the 1965 Grand Guignol classic “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” during an extended chase in a theater mostly populated by wax dummies. A few years ago, I woke up one morning the night after a party where too much was imbibed and I decided that it would be a good idea to catch a matinee screening of it at the local revival house, only to discover that the combination of 7&7 residue and the hyperbolic close-ups of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford freaked the living hell out of me in ways that still make me shudder to this day. This anecdote has nothing to do with anything, I suppose, except to illustrate that if you do want to have a truly terrifying movie experience this weekend, get a bottle of Seven Crowns, a bottle of 7-Up and a DVD of “Baby Jane” and stay far away from anyplace showing “House of Wax”.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=12045&reviewer=389
originally posted: 05/05/05 23:56:13
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Tribeca Film Festival For more in the 2005 Tribeca Film Festival series, click here.
Horror Remakes: For more in the Horror Remakes series, click here.

User Comments

2/20/17 morris campbell house of shit is more like it 1 stars
10/18/09 Chad Dillon Cooper Should have been called "House of Hollywood Hostess Twinkie garbage". 1 stars
7/14/09 faiche13 Ultra creepy campy fun 3 stars
6/23/09 Kailee An okay movie, very slow beginning but it picks up towards the end 3 stars
6/09/09 RHYS Not SCARY enough. No suspense, just drags. Good special effects at end. 2 stars
8/14/08 Shaun Wallner Ugg boring!! 1 stars
11/07/07 art excellent 5 stars
11/01/07 hank3395 favorite scene: when Paris dies 2 stars
5/19/07 wooo hooo kid i like it andthe song and when paris is in the tent 5 stars
2/21/07 Beau For Paris her performance was good, but elisha cuthbert and chadwas amazing!! good casting 4 stars
1/13/07 bullit16 Wow. An absolute abortion of a movie. 1 star is 1 too many 1 stars
11/09/06 sofi best part wen paris gets killld wooohhoooo 4 stars
11/01/06 cody Slow at first , but the movie delivers in the end, good mixture of blood and scares. 3 stars
8/05/06 Taelor Blevins I thought it was great Paris Hilton and Chad Murray and Elisha Cuthbert done a great job! 5 stars
7/29/06 Shaun Wallner it was alright 4 stars
7/13/06 Stanley Thai This is the BEST horror film of 2005. Don't listen to other people. It's not crap but it's 4 stars
7/11/06 Anthony Feor My favorite part was the acting 1 stars
7/08/06 drydock54321 this is a nice one 4 stars
6/15/06 Garrett So many talk bad about Paris, But im sure she is a main reason why they watched the movie. 4 stars
5/08/06 Brittany I LOVED IT 5 stars
4/30/06 BILL it wuz to brillent but to perdicetble 4 stars
4/24/06 Carol Baker Too Predictable for words to describe 2 stars
1/19/06 Danny Repulsive. Poor Jared! Yuck! 1 stars
12/20/05 Carolyn Rathburn the only thing that impressed me was the painting by Vincent 2 stars
12/12/05 Trisha Gifford it was relli good, the main chick was relli good tha hot black guy was sooo fine 5 stars
11/20/05 Indrid Cold Being slightly better than the typical slick Hollywood horror movie makes it just average. 3 stars
11/15/05 Jeff W Great fun. As good a slasher as anyone can ask for. 5 stars
11/11/05 j I LOVE THIS MOVIE BECAUSE I'M A COMPLETE FUCKING MORON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 1 stars
11/05/05 HGTV fanatic I loved this movie for one reason--Paris bites the dust---now "THAT'S HOT"!!!! 1 stars
10/27/05 dylans gurl this film rox and i soon will own it hopfully and i luv the part where chad takes off his s 5 stars
10/25/05 chris fox (the god) a good movie worth watching 5 stars
10/17/05 Nikki Louise Gledhill I thought it was brilliant. It was pretty scary 5 stars
10/10/05 Tom Burns I loved it. A great horror movie. 5 stars
9/12/05 Svante Skoog I LOVE GORE!! Finally the slashers of today are bringing back the splatter to life :) 5 stars
9/08/05 Lloyd Kaufman is a Sex God It has Elisha Cuthbert in it and Paris Hilton getting killed. What more could you ask for? 4 stars
9/08/05 Kyle More than delivers on its promise. 5 stars
8/21/05 Christian A vehicle for Paris Hilton, bleh 1 stars
7/26/05 Jerry MUCH better than recent slasher movies. No reason for the harsh reviews. 5 stars
7/17/05 Vic it was texas chainsaw massacre with wax..paris hilton should stay away from acting! 2 stars
7/16/05 Charlene Javier Lame-o! 2 stars
7/15/05 Green Gremlin Great production design...shame about the story !!! 2 stars
7/15/05 Steve W. Thankfully, there are two critics on this site who know what a GOOD slasher movie is. 5 stars
7/08/05 Sophia Great horror movie. Fun, popcorn entertainment. 5 stars
6/22/05 nicky white i didnt understand why they were killing people 1 stars
6/15/05 adrian ace pure garbage, trailers looked great, movie sux ass 1 stars
6/14/05 JFK awful script 2 stars
6/05/05 Dave Really good special effects, but little else. 2 stars
5/31/05 jocelyn i haven't been on edge at the theater in a long time. this was a very welcome scare! 5 stars
5/17/05 kelsey we only went to see it to see Paris Hilton die. this movie was ok but it wasnt the best. 4 stars
5/17/05 Tracie Smegelski I liked it! Seeing Paris die was worth it! Just call me brain-dead, I guess... 4 stars
5/17/05 Neon Another sad remake of an old movie - Hollywood needs new material 1 stars
5/16/05 E-FUNK 20 minutes of gore in the middle of this turd is worth your time. Otherwise, SHIT-FEST. 2 stars
5/13/05 Sgt Slaughter For beter Paris Hilton, see the South Park episode where she coughs up cum the whole time.. 1 stars
5/12/05 James The only people that will call this a awesome movie is brain dead teenagers. 1 stars
5/12/05 Naka Slasher shit. We can do better then this one. 1 stars
5/12/05 irbear as slasher flix go this one is entertaining 4 stars
5/11/05 ROY L. CAIN JR. The greatest movie of all time. ("Please don't kill me!") 4 stars
5/10/05 Jeff W. Why the negative reviews? Anyways, it's a terrific horror movie, and worth the ticket. 5 stars
5/08/05 Taylor I thought this movie was pretty good. it was not scary at all just gory. 4 stars
5/06/05 Danielle I don't know what these people are talking about. Truly entertaining, grisly horror flick. 4 stars
5/06/05 Nikky It was very bad 1 stars
5/06/05 Kristina Williams look at the cast. Were you expecting greatness? Fools. 1 stars
5/06/05 Genny Knowl This is really a dumb movie with bad acting 2 stars
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  06-May-2005 (R)
  DVD: 25-Oct-2005



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