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Sculptor Ivan Igor struggles in vain to prevent his partner from burning his wax museum, and his "children". Years later, Igor starts a new museum in New York, but his maimed hands confine him to directing lesser artists. People begin disappearing; Igor...
Michael Curtiz's 1933 effort, Mystery of the Wax Museum, has an intriguing two-toned look where everything is green or peach, an early color process that wasn't ultimately pursued, but it looks great on a movie that's on the verge of expressionism, with sets half-way between Universal Horror and Gotham City, and a bizarre and lurid storyline. Remade as Wax Museum and later, House of Wax, the original tale is more pulp mystery than it is horror, but that's a question of what it focuses on. Yes, we have Fay Wray screaming her head off in the last reel, but the movie really belongs to a fast-talkin', give-no-quarter, banter-to-the-death journalist played by Glenda Farrell. The wisecracks fly in her every interaction, making for a surprisingly funny movie about a disfigured grave robber who casts his victims in wax. And the mystery isn't as obvious as you might think either, with false leads, several suspects, etc., but that's what prevents it from being a pure horror film. In horror, we'd be following the monster or the monster's victims; in a mystery, we're really looking at the detective. If the chills are few, it's worth watching for the look and the dialog. Also, if you're making a list of New Year's-themed movies.
Can't beat the original, especially if you like head strong, fast talking, straight shooting career dames.
Not bad. This is how I like my pre-code.
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Currently in 2 official lists, but has been in 3