What can I say? I love 3D! From the moment I began watching 3D content in my home I quickly discovered that I needed more content. I suspect that those of you just purchasing your first 3D hardware will acquire the same ferocious appetite. That's why I became the HTF 3D ADDICT. I personally love images that pop off the screen and come inches away from your face without becoming overly gimmicky. However, I certainly appreciate the nature documentaries that offer beautiful depth and separation. These are not necessarily reviews of the film themselves. I am not going to concentrate on story or supplements -- you can find the 2D reviews elsewhere on this forum. My job is to let you know exactly what kind of 3D experience to expect from the titles that are being released. As I will be receiving a handful of new product from the studios expect to see more title coverage.
House Of Wax
Studio: Warner Bros.
Product Release: October 1, 2013
Audio: DTS-HD Master English 2.0
Running Time: 88 minutes
On A Scale 0-5
Overall 3D Presentation Rating: 5
3D Separation: 5
3D In Yo' Face Factor: 3
There are a wealth of reasons to celebrate the film House of Wax both past and
present. First and foremost, House of Wax is the most successful classic 3D feature
ever made. It was a huge gamble for Jack Warner and his studio to make in 1952, but
done so made as a means to lure audiences back into theaters and away from the
emerging technology of television. When released in 1953, House of Wax set many
milestones. To begin with, it was the first 3D feature made in color. The film also
introduced a new 4-channel stereo sound process called WarnerPhonic. Finally, the
overall success of the film was greatly responsible for launching the career of the film's
star, Vincent Price, a stage actor who, at the time, was sort of a Hollywood heartthrob
who played secondary parts in many screen classics.
Many of the above points I will talk about in more depth as I continue through this review.
All you need to know right now is that Warner's release of House of Wax on 3D
Blu-ray is a defining moment for this format. With waning interest in 3D home
technology, and the lackluster manner in which Hollywood Directors have actually
used the process --- it's rather odd that the only way today to really savor this format
is to revisit the films that most embraced it.
House of Wax is a remake of the 1933 film, Mystery of the Wax Museum (which is
included as a bonus feature in this Blu-ray release). The story centers around a
curator and sculptor (Vincent Price) who is driven to insanity and takes revenge after
his unscrupulous partner (Roy Roberts) burns their unprofitable wax museum to the
To watch this film, newly incarnated on Blu-ray for its 60th Anniversary release, is
quite an amazing experience. The restoration was handed over to the miracle workers
at Waner's Motion Picture Imaging Facility where a new 4K scan of the film was done
using all 3 strips of its technicolor elements. I urge everyone reading this review who
may be interested in learning more about the film's restoration efforts, to read Bob
Furmanek's insightful interview with Ned Price, VP of Mastering at Warner Bros. studio.
This really is an important read when considering how much damage was done to the
film's original elements and how amazingly beautiful this new restoration looks now.
This absolutely pristine transfer sports am amazing amount of detail that allows the
striking colors of the WarnerColor transfer to really shine. Black levels are astonishingly
deep at times (black cloak, derby hats, Vincent Price's suit) and there is a nice, subtle
layer of film grain that sometimes takes on a life of its own when viewed in 3D. Though
this is the first time I have ever viewed this film on any medium, I am rather confident
that those who really know its past video releases better than I, are going to be amazed
with Warner's efforts here.
By leaps and bounds, this is the among the best 3D classic film presentations I have ever
witnessed. House of Wax was lensed with 2 cameras pointed at mirrors that would be
adjusted to change the level of depth intensity. The exaggerated use of depth is deeply
evident here, and it greatly enhances the storytelling, immersing viewers into the film in
ways that today's technology has forgotten. From the opening moments of the film, one
notices the massive amount of space that is given between foreground and background images.
A lamp post stands starkly forward as you feel the openness of the rainy street backdrop
behind it. As the camera pulls back from the museum window, there is a bit of amazement
as you see the layers of separation when curtains suddenly come into view. A pan around the
museum floor shows a stunning amount of spaciousness between the wax figure displays
and the background fixtures. Watch the wax figure of Marie Antoinette as her hand protrudes
The thing that I have always loved about classic 3D features is that that the filmmakers
most always used gimmickry to exploit the format. While out-of screen "pop-out" effects were
used rather sparingIy here, there are some great moments within this movie that are nicely
enhanced by the 3D process:
* In the basement of the museum, check out the giant wax machine as its spraying elements
position themselves directly outside the viewing screen, right.
* Following the film's intermission, watch a performer swing paddle balls forward. The
outward effect is somewhat limited, but it's even more astonishing to watch how the
added level of depth shows how close the those balls come to the faces of the patrons
within the film.
* A sequence involving dancing can can girls with their feet kicking forward is quite
interesting to watch, but unfortunately, never seem to actually permeate the screen.
* In the same scene, watch the forward placement of the ribbon in Sue's hat.
You'll also be fascinated by the use of fog and and smoke that move eerily across
Now with all the acclaim I have given this Blu-ray transfer and 3D presentation, I am
very sad to report that some of you are going to enjoy a less-than-perfect viewing...
Those of you with active 3D eyewear are most likely going to experience high levels
of ghosting. You will see quite a bit of it in background fixtures (such as wall beams)
or tracing the facial outlines of the actors. I am not surprised at the level of ghosting
that I had experienced. It was the same problem that plagued Warner's Blu-ray release
of Dial M For Murder. Thing is, some will the ghosting, some will not. Past experience
dictates that those wearing passive eyewear will not see it at all.
House of Wax, presented in DTS-HD stereo, sounds clear and crisp with just a hint of
background hiss. I was rather taken by surprise during my viewing when the rear speakers
suddenly came into play. It was my first experience of WarnerPhonic, which back in 1953
was a new 4-channel process that was introduced to theaters. Seems as if that process
has been beautifully preserved in this presentation, enhancing the overall immersion,
as rear channels open up to reveal explosions, screams, crackling fire and even the
crash of a thrown chair.
House of Wax arrives as a single Blu-ray with both 3D and 2D versions, housed in a
lenticular cardboard sleeve. Warner has not skimped on the extras here. They have
included the 1933 feature, Mystery of the Wax Museum. Additionally, there is film
commentary by film historians David Del Valle and Constantine Nasr. You'll also find
an original film trailer and newsreel.
The most important watch on this disc is the all-new 46 minute retrospective, House of
Wax: Unlike Anything You've Seen Before! It's an incredible, deeply involved look
at just about every aspect of the film, its stars, director, make-up, 3D photography and
publicity. You can't get much better with a documentary like this when the stories are
told using archived clips of star Vincent Price and Director Andrè De Toth as well as
filmmaker Martin Scorsese and bake-up artist Rick Baker. One of the most interesting
things I learned through this documentary was that director Andrè De Toth was blind in
one eye, which doesn't quite fit the mold of someone you would think would be Jack
Warner's first choice in making a 3D film that was very risky for his studio at that time.
Fans who have made House of Wax the most requested 3D classic release to date
should be very excited about what they are about to receive. This is one of the most
impressive restoration efforts I have seen from Warner's Motion Picture Imaging facility.
Watching this immaculate transfer with its enhanced level of 3D separation made me
feel as excited today as audiences must have felt when first seeing it in 1953.
I am a little worried about the ghosting issues that I am presuming many active shutter
users will experience, but that aside, this Blu-ray rises to top of the list when considering
classic 3D titles whose presentation exceeds most of the safe Hollywood fare that has
been made over the last decade.
By the way, I could not end this review without mentioning Bob Furmanek and Greg
Kintz who have compiled fascinating information about House of Wax and other films
from the golden age of 3D. Do yourself a favor and read their In-Depth look at House
Images are for illustrative purpose only not representative of the picture quality of this disc.
LG 60PX950 THX Certified 3D display
Oppo BDP-93 3D Blu-ray Player
Denon 3311CI Receiver
Atlantic Technology H-PAS AT-1 fronts, 4400 center; 4200 rear speakers
SV Sound Subwoofer