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House Of Wax (2005) – Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray Review)

Social media is a funny animal. For all the bad and the insufferable, it has some nice aspects to it that keep people coming back. For instance, for years and years I felt alone in that I thought the mocked upon release film House of Wax from 2005 was in actuality, pretty good. Much of its marketing and buzz was a backlash on “how dare a movie cast Paris Hilton” that was embraced in a marketing tactic of “come watch us kill Paris Hilton”. That in the far rearview, perhaps some will check it out without that bit loudly shouting at them and others might take a look to re-evaluate. It excites me that Scream Factory has done a collector’s edition of it AND got Paris Hilton back for an interview. There’s also a new transfer of the film. It releases on July 13th. You can pre-order a copy by using the paid Amazon Associates link following the review.

Film

A gang of college friends, including Wade (Jared Padalecki) and his girlfriend, Carly (Elisha Cuthbert), are en route to a school football game when they wind up with a flat tire in a ghost town. They are forced to seek help in the only place that’s open: the local wax museum. Once inside the spooky and seemingly abandoned building, they find the works on display are not quite what they seem — and the group soon discovers it’s being hunted by the insane twin brothers who run the museum.

2005’s House of Wax makes the smart decision of playing the “loose remake” card to the Vincent Price classic (Itself a remake of 1933’s Mystery of the Wax Museum). This one decides to take its waxy story and play more into the slasher mold of things. This one plays like a hybrid of taking some of the best of the 1980s slasher films, but injected with some of the more raw 70s horrors in the vein of your Texas Chainsaw Massacres and The Hills Have Eyes. And as a slasher/horror film, its embracing of what it is and unapologetic nature really helps it succeed and stand out among its contemporaries and fellow fad remakes of its time.

Perhaps the biggest star of House of Wax isn’t Paris Hilton, but the special effects department. They’ve done a remarkable job here with the film from both the wax figures and the gore on display in the film. There are plenty of squeamish bits of violence that are incredibly effective. Ms. Hilton’s death is also an all-timer horror kill, just well thought and expertly executed. The impressive thing is that none of it feels extensive, dark or just drenched in the gore. Sure, there’s plenty of it, but its done in very clean and colorful, yet effective manners.

One of the greatest achievements in the film is the house of wax being made of wax. There are a lot of cool sets here and the film doesn’t ever shy away from playing around in this doom house and showcases many different ways in which it can be used in a scene or sequence. And for what this film is, a little studio slasher, the finale of it is quite impressive and they actually pull it of. House of Wax ends in a big grand fashion with the house melting and coming apart and our heroes trying to fight a killer and escape this death trap all at once. Its goopy, messy, gross, dangerous and really caps off a nice slasher in the highest of fashions.

Since it arrived in 2005, I’ve been a fan of this take on House of Wax. Is it better than the Vincent Price one? No, but its also trying its hardest not to be that film and that’s very respectable. What it does deliver, is one of the more top flight slashers in an era where remakes were king and slashers were slowly fading for a bit. On a core level, this film really delivers in the little horrors and gore to such a degree that characters and story playing out a bit more route doesn’t matter and feels like window dressing for a glorious special effects team’s new showcase.

Video

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: House of Wax arrives on Blu-ray for a second time boasting a 2K restoration from an interpositive. The result is solid, but is a bit more casual in its appearance. The film’s new image features some solid texture and crispness, but feels like it could maybe improve in the depth department a bit. The textured detail of the house of wax itself as well as the figurines is pretty top of the line and importantly delivers. Overall, it works and provides a nice viewing experience.

Depth:  This isn’t bad, but its only slightly above average with the depth of field here. The interiors of the house are something you’d want to feel a bit more 3 dimensional, but unfortunately it’s a little flatter.  Movements are smooth and cinematic with no issues revolving around motion distortions.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and inky. Good contrast showcasing throughout. There are some rougher spots in a few exterior scenes outside where it looks like there’s a heft of grain making the image look not as clean, but spotty rather than just a full screen of it. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction:  Colors are a little more dingy, more faded but have a nice little palette to them. Clothing fabric helps this one pop a little more. There are some nice shades and variation in wax and surfaces on display.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are natural and consistent all the way through. Facial features and textures are pretty visible from any reasonable frame distance. The neatest part of the transfer is taking in the detail of all the cool practical wax effects throughout the film and stuff like the super glue on Elisha Cuthbert’s lips.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.

Audio

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English SDH

DynamicsHouse of Wax carries a lossless 5.1 track. Its a solidly balanced track that features a good, layered mix. However its in the deeper end and the more powerful feel where it sorta lacks. Cranking it up a little helps, but it never full feels commanding as one might hope, especially in some of the bigger moments. Its no slouch though, but like the video it settles for being merely above average rather than top flight.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: The subwoofer does an admirable job with fire roaring, engines, crashes, punches, punctures, splatter and more. It could use just a bit more oompf, though.

Surround Sound Presentation: This is a mostly front leaning track, though there are some nice ambient and active moments from the rear channels. Sound travel is pinpoint accurate to the onscreen events.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are solid, clear and audio throughout. No matter how loud the danger, you can still clearly hear everyone and they feel a part of the environment.

Extras

House of Wax – Collector’s Edition features a reversible cover displaying the original poster art.

Die, My Darling (HD, 8:04) – Interview with actress Paris Hilton. Looking fabulous as ever, Paris talks about her first movie experience and enjoyment in making the film. She speaks on how helpful Elisha Cuthbert was to her, thinks Joel Silver is just the best, and says she still is actually very much “pro” the “See Paris Die” marketing campaign.

The Tale of Blake and Paige (HD, 5:22) – Interview with Actor Robert Ri’chard. This primarily focuses around his experience working with Paris Hilton. Which, to be fair, his character spends most of the movie with her. He also touches on working in Australia.

To Me They Live and Breathe (HD, 9:02) – Interview with makeup effects artist Jason Baird. He goes over a lot of the craft and techniques used to create both the wax mannequins and the actors/people made to look like wax mannequins. Building the town is another aspect touch upon as well as an accident that happened where he and his team had to scramble to replicated what they lost.

Organ Grinder (HD, 6:01) – Interview with composer John Ottman. The composer talks about using a full orchestra for this one and neatly goes over it pointing out themes and such, including revealing his own vocal contributions.

B-Roll and Bloopers Video Cast Commentary (SD, 26:31) – Ported from the original DVD & HD-DVD release, this split screen has our cast watching footage from the movie and trying to discuss/joke around about it. Includes Paris Hilton, Elisha Cuthbert, Chad Michael Murray and Jared Padalecki.

From Location: Joel Silver Reveals House of Wax (SD, 1:32) – A little promo with Joel Silver talking about the cast of the film.

Wax On: The Design of House of Wax (SD, 7:25) – A ported over featurette on the construction of the town in the film.

The House Built on Wax (SD, 10:11) – Vintage featurette detailing the practical effects work used in the film.

Alternate Opening: Jennifer Killed (SD, 1:29)

Gag Reel (SD, 4:42)

Vintage Interviews & Featurette (SD, 19:45) – Elisha Cuthbert, Chad Michael Murray, Brian Van Holt, Paris Hilton, Jared Padalecki, Jon Abrahams, Robert Ri’chard, Joel Silver, Susan Levin, Jaume Collet-Serra

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:21)

Summary

House of Wax carries the title, but it takes the smart approach of being its own thing and becomes a pretty good slasher more in the vein of the 80s output. This new Blu-ray from Scream Factory features a pretty solid transfer in both video and audio. The disc is loaded with extras both new and old, including a short, but nifty interview from Paris Hilton where her thoughts feel genuine. I’m happy to have one of my favorite 00s slasher in a such a nice little standalone release.

This is a paid Amazon Associates link

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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