House of Wax 3D (Blu-ray) Official AVSForum Review - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 5 Old 09-30-2013, 12:13 PM - Thread Starter
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The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )

Film: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

Extras: attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373692

Audio/3D Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )

Studio and Year: Warner - 1953
MPAA Rating: NR
Feature running time: 88 minutes
Genre: Horror

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC/MVC
Video Aspect: 1.37:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD Master Audio Stereo, Dolby Digital French/Spanish Mono
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Vincent Price, Frank Lovejoy, Phyllis Kirk, Carolyn Jones, Paul Picerni, Dabs Greer, Charles Buchinsky
Directed by: Andre DeToth
Written by: Crane Wilbur
Region Code: A,B,C

Blu-ray Disc release Date: October 1, 2013

"Unlike anything you’ve seen before!"

Film Synopsis:

Professor Henry Jarrod is the owner and figure sculptor in a wax museum whose specialty is historic figures. When he and his business partner, Matthew Burke quarrel over the choice of exhibits displayed, Burke suggests it would be more profitable to burn down the museum in order to obtain the insurance money. As they fight, the museum burns and Jarrod is left for dead. It’s not until much later at a new museum that the fate of Jarrod and the mystery of how the lifelike waxed figures are created becomes gruesomely evident.

My Take:

House of wax is indeed a classic film that combines horror with the macabre as it weaves a dark tale of greed, obsession, and murder. The narrative is thematically standard especially for the time period but effectively draws you in with excellent performances, elements of mystery and wonderful use of 3D which enrich the story. In 1953, the film was the first color 3D feature released by a major studio. It also marked Vincent Price’s first major starring horror role and changed the course of his career.
House of Wax was a major box-office success when it was released. If adjusted to today’s gross, it would have brought in more than $401 million, placing it among the top 100 highest grossing films ever. The film was directed by André deToth, an unlikely choice to direct a 3D film as he was blind in one eye and unable to properly see the effects he created. It no doubt paved the way for a 3D boom over the next several years during which 50 3D features and some two dozen shorts and cartoons were released.

In addition to Vincent Price, House of Wax additionally features Frank Lovejoy, Phyllis Kirk, Carolyn Jones, Dabbs Greer, Paul Picerni and a young actor named Charles Buchinsky, who would later become known to audiences worldwide as Charles Bronson.

Thanks to advanced technology and the expert work of Warner Bros. Motion Picture Imaging (MPI), audiences will now be able to enjoy the classic mystery shocker as it was originally seen in theatres. Originally designed to lure audiences away from their TV sets, 3D utilized a “left-eye/right-eye” dual projection process and polarized glasses, the basis for what is seen today. MPI’s work on House of Wax includes a 4K scan, and a full restoration of the two “eyes,” as well as perfect 3D image alignment.

The Warner library has the largest number of classic 3D titles (15) of any studio, and now that the technology has been perfected, the studio looks forward to re-introducing them to home audiences. The long-awaited, much requested release of House of Wax is the second classic 3D film the studio has released on Blu-ray, following last year’s release of Dial M for Murder. Warner has also included Mystery of the wax museum starring Fay Wray, Lionel Atwill, Glenda Farrell, and Frank McHugh, the 1933 feature upon which House of wax is based.

Parental Guide:

The film contains thematic material, mild violence and disturbing images.

AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

Audio: 72

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Dynamics: attachment.php?attachmentid=109944&d=1210373692

  • Low frequency extension: attachment.php?attachmentid=109943&d=1210373692

  • Surround Sound presentation: attachment.php?attachmentid=109943&d=1210373692

  • Clarity/Detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373699

  • Dialogue Reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373699

3D Presentation: 82

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Depth (Onscreen): attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Dimension (Beyond the screen): attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373692

  • Realism: attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373692

  • Clarity/Detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

  • Color reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373692

House of wax 3D comes to Blu-ray Disc from Warner Home Video featuring 1080p MVC encoded video and lossless DTS-HD 2.0 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 2Mbps.

Interestingly House of wax, was the first film that helped Warner Bros. introduce 3D in U.S. theatres in the early ‘50s. According to the press release Warner Bros.’ Motion Picture Imaging (MPI) division has meticulously and painstakingly restored the original 3D presentation. To ready the film for this release, MPI’s work included a 4K scan of the original camera negative, and a full restoration of the two “eyes,” as well as convergence fixes to ensure perfect alignment. In looking at this 3D presentation I was impressed with the reproduction of color/fleshtones, the rich contrast, shadow detail and relatively deep black levels. Resolution is rarely questionable during close ups. The background projection/matte work used during the period is easily recognizable and reproduced quite well.

The overall quality of images onscreen is very good and exhibits a film like aesthetic that is complimentary. Grain is intact with moderate presence that imparts a noticeably grainy but unobtrusive texture. The native 3D adds discernible onscreen dimension that places objects and people at various stages of depth within the frame. The effects appropriately range from reserved to varying stages of pop out which coincide nicely by setting the mood of the scene or simply displaying a little fun 3D entertainment designed to show what the format was capable of at the time. I didn’t have a problem with that and found it added an enriching visual element to the film. I didn’t notice any deleterious anomalies associated with the video, 3D or otherwise.

The stereo soundtrack is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio lossless and while it won’t knock your socks off I found it delivered the components in the original recording just fine. The auditory is free of unwanted clicks, pops or background hiss. Dialogue intelligibility is excellent as it is never lost amidst the other sounds coming through the soundstage.

2D Video Quality:

Video: 84

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity: attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373692

  • Black level/Shadow detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Color reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Fleshtones: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

  • Compression: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

House of wax comes to Blu-ray Disc from Warner Home Video featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 27 Mbps.

My impressions regarding the video quality as stated in the 3D portion of the review are applicable to the 2D as well.

Bonus Features:

  • Audio commentary by David Del Valle & Constantine Nasr

  • (HD) House of wax: Unlike anything you’ve ever seen before! – 48 minute documentary

  • Round the clock premiere: Coast hails House of wax (newsreel footage) – 2 minutes

  • “Mystery of the wax museum” – 88 minute 1933 full length feature film

  • Theatrical trailer

Final Thoughts:

House of wax is a classic film that not only combines horror with the macabre weaving a dark tale of greed, obsession, and murder but it is also the first color 3D release by a major motion picture studio. It was a major box office success that launched the career of Vincent Price while paving the way for the 3D boom which followed over the next several years. It makes its debut on Blu-ray in its native 3D which has been carefully restored by Warner’s MPI. The presentation appears to faithfully represent the film’s elements allowing fans to see this film at home looking as close to its theatrical presentation as possible. The bonus features consist of the theatrical trailer, an informative documentary and the full length feature “Mystery of the wax museum” the film upon which House of wax is based. If you’re a fan of the old genre classics this release from Warner Home Video belongs in your Blu-ray library.


Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS55 3D Ready 1080p High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6 Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV8801 11.2 Channel Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-103 Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Panasonic DMP-BDT310 3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package

Ralph C. Potts
Blu-ray Reviewer
My Home Theater
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post #2 of 5 Old 09-30-2013, 09:13 PM
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Thanks for the review, sounds like it should be a fun movie to experience. I've never seen it but, anytime I've ever mentioned 3d to my dad in the last 20 years, he's talked about this movie and how he enjoyed it, so obviously it left a lasting impression on him. Sounds like this is a great buy for any 3D enthusiast, with its historical significance, I'll be sure to pick this up
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post #3 of 5 Old 10-03-2013, 07:27 AM
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Thank for the review Ralph. You didn't mention the surround track in the audio review. I understand it is a mono track with surround effects. Is the track there?
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post #4 of 5 Old 10-19-2016, 05:12 PM
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I got this 3d movie from Best Buy today.......$7.99 plus SH Charge. Also the "It come from outer space" at same price. Will watch them soon.
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post #5 of 5 Old 10-19-2016, 10:56 PM
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Love this tongue-in-cheek classic; the wife and I take it out regularly to watch. I own Warner's "double billing" DVD release, with House of Wax on one side of the flipper disc and the original it's based on, Mystery at the Wax Museum, on the other. The video transfer never really bothered me all that much, being upconverted by our OPPO Blu-ray player; is it twitchy, grainy and noisy in many places? Sure. But for the genre and age of the film, I never really saw a need to upgrade...

The audio on the DVD, believe it or not, is two-channel and is decoded by my AVR via Pro Logic II...and actually sounds okay. Sure, it's kinda limp and lifeless with that hollow-ish, echo-ish sound so prevalent with older sources. But there are actually some moments when the surrounds are used (such as when things are being thrown this way and that during the opening fire sequence at the wax museum) and, surprisingly, the track is mastered quite effectively. At any rate, it was nice to be able to comment in a thread with other House of Wax fans.

And, if there's anything I can say when it comes to this title...STAY FAR AWAY from the horrendously bad remake starring Paris (GULP) Hilton...
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