Mystery of the Wax Museum

  • Film
  • Horror films
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In the early '30s, when Universal were riding high with Frankenstein and Dracula, Warners hunted round for their own horror subject, and found one in the idea of a sculptor who murders his models and embalms them in wax to achieve death-in-life. It's an interesting Poe-like theme, full of bizarre implications, and has since been remade several times (once in 3-D); but this remains the classic. Filmed in one of the earliest two-tone Technicolor processes, it is beautiful to look at, full of muted green compositions and stunningly modulated colour effects. Interesting, too, to note that its tough, wisecracking girl reporter (Farrell) and newspaper setting bear the unmistakable stamp of the Warner house style. There's a slightly cruel, almost fascist streak throughout, especially in the police's handling of things, and the shocks are a little sparse by present standards. But it holds up amazingly well, and its pale, shimmering images linger in the mind.

Release details

Duration: 78 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Michael Curtiz
Screenwriter: Don Mullaly, Carl Erickson
Cast: Lionel Atwill
Fay Wray
Glenda Farrell
Allen Vincent
Frank McHugh
Gavin Gordon
Arthur Edmund Carewe
Matthew Betz
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