Mystery of the Wax Museum


Michael Curtiz
First National Pictures

Artist has his work destroyed and his face and hands ruined when his partner burns the wax museum for insurance money. Twelves years later, he resurfaces to continue his work, albeit with more gruesome techniques.

The early two-strip technicolor may date this film for some more than if it had been filmed in B&W, but watching a film in shades of pink and blue is not nearly as irksome as Farrell's shrill wisecracking reporter. And like so many 1930s films, the ostensible romantic lead has all the appeal of a wet sock. On the plus side, being filmed before the Hays Code went into effect is a great benefit, and allows for more explicitness than even the 1953 version had.

Possibly the goofiest ending of any horror film, but along the way we get to see Atwill at his best, Carewe showing that Dwight Frye wasn't the only actor who could play a creepy sidekick, and Fay Wray put her stockings on (and of course, hear her scream), so who can complain?

Remade in 1953 as House of Wax, which like its predecessor was used as a showcase for a new form of film technology.

Note:The version used for screencaps here is the version included as a bonus on the House of Wax DVD, and is very inaccurate in terms of color and an insult to the original cinematography. A good case for hanging on to your tapes and/or laserdiscs!

-Dave W.
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17th February 1933

77 mins

Lionel Atwill
Ivan Igor
Fay Wray
Charlotte Duncan
Glenda Farrell
Florence Dempsey
Frank McHugh
Allen Vincent
Ralph Burton
Gavin Gordon
George Winton
Edwin Maxwell
Joe Worth
Holmes Herbert
Doctor Rasmussen
Claude King
Mr. Galatalin
Arthur Edmund Carewe
Sparrow / Professor Darcy
Thomas E. Jackson
(as Thomas Jackson)
DeWitt Jennings
Police Captain
Matthew Betz
Monica Bannister
Joan Gale
Bull Anderson
Janitor (uncredited)
Frank Austin
Winton's Valet
Max Barwyn
Museum Visitor
Harry C. Bradley
Reporter (uncredited)
Wallis Clark
Autopsy Surgeon's Assistant
Frank Darien
Autopsy Surgeon
William B. Davidson
Detective (uncredited)
James Donlan
Morgue Attendant
Frank Fanning
Policeman (uncredited)
Otto Hoffman
Igor's Assistant
Robert Homans
Danny, Desk Sergeant
Perry Ivins
Matty, Copy Editor
Milton Kibbee
Reporter (uncredited)
Margaret Mann
Wax Figure of Queen Victoria
Robert Emmett O'Connor
Joe, Policeman
Pat O'Malley
Gates, Plainclothesman
Walter Percival
Winton's Attorney
Lon Poff
Tall Thin Henchman
Dick Rush
Policeman (uncredited)
Lee Shumway
Policeman (uncredited)
Guy Usher
Detective (uncredited)
William Wagner
Morgue Attendant's Assistant
Wade Boteler

Dave Wright: Screencaps & Notes

Dave Wright: 33 Caps