This 3D Wax Is Molten Hot!
Warner Blu-Ray Sculpts a Sensational House Of Wax
What began for me forty-nine years ago as a plod through snow to see House Of Wax ends today with the 3D history-maker finally home-available in full-depth glory. My snow reference is to Channel 2 Greensboro's late night broadcast where I first tasted Wax at age 10. The 83 miles away station amounted to radio with barely perceptible image for us. You'd listen to programs and for most part imagine visuals. It was exciting to "see" House Of Wax, but more so, I now realize, to hear it, for HoW has what may be the 50's most dynamic dose of sound. When I think of this movie, it's in aural terms. Those Warner-Phonic tracks may be lost, but we still have Warner-Sonic as rendered by David Buttolph's score and that unique way of WB recording that was expressed envy of rivals throughout the industry (Metro's Louis Mayer would ask, Why can't our pictures sound like Warner's?).
Enough of that, however: House Of Wax is here at last in all three dimensions, and like Jane Russell in The French Line, promises to knock both eyes out. I'd seen Wax in 3D before, a 1971 reissue from "StereoVision," again ten years later reissued by Warner, plus collector prints interspersed on 35mm. Good as some were, none are a patch on digital's reclaim of the 1953 experience. My family was there for the local Allen Theatre's open (minus me, seven months shy of being born) and saw interlocked prints in a storefront venue little more than twenty-five feet in width and maybe 75' deep, not unlike nickelodeons of yore. The Ad at right doesn't mention WarnerPhonic sound, so I'd assume the Allen went unequipped for stereo, although they would have had to install it within months to comply with 20th Fox's policy for play-off of its Cinemascope offerings. The
Setting up for 3D home projection is easier than syncing up Symplexes, but by how much? My upcoming weekend show for four, including frequent and erudite Greenbriar commenter Dan Mercer, requires battery charge of as many 3D specs, making of us a quartet of Vincent Price Tomb Of Ligeia lookalikes. The beauty of modern 3D is that once you flip on Warners' Blu-Ray, the war is won. What they did with the restoration should make for 90 flub-free minutes, putting Greenbriar well ahead of most '53 exhibitors who, to say a least, had higher hills to climb. As for Waxen history, there are extras with the BR, but context I'd tout loudest comes via Bob Furmanek and his 3-D Archive, long settled as leading authority on depth and widescreen history. Bob has constructed a page that details House Of Wax from beginning-to-end, no rock unturned re the film and its afterlife. His detail-serve of trade ads, exhibition and behind-scenes lore amount to richest-ever tour through Warners' waxwork. Anyone with slightest interest in this subject will be well rewarded for perusal of the 3D Film Archive, with lengthy stop at its House Of Wax exhibit. As 1953 publicity vowed, It Comes Right At You!