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Nightmare in Wax

Nightmare in Wax (1969) Movie Poster
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  •  USA  •    •  96m  •    •  Directed by: Bud Townsend.  •  Starring: Cameron Mitchell, Anne Helm, Scott Brady, Berry Kroeger, Victoria Carroll, Phillip Baird, John 'Bud' Cardos, Hollis Morrison, James Forrest, Virgil Frye, Mercedes Alberti, Barry Donohue, Ingrid Dittmar..
       The disfigured curator of a wax museum murders his enemies and then uses their bodies as exhibits in his museum.

Review:

Image from: Nightmare in Wax (1969)
Image from: Nightmare in Wax (1969)
Image from: Nightmare in Wax (1969)
Image from: Nightmare in Wax (1969)
Image from: Nightmare in Wax (1969)
Image from: Nightmare in Wax (1969)
Image from: Nightmare in Wax (1969)
Image from: Nightmare in Wax (1969)
Image from: Nightmare in Wax (1969)
This re-run of the classic horror films MYSTERY OF THE WAX MUSEUM and HOUSE OF WAX is more of a time waster than a real full-blooded horror yarn, as this poverty-row cheapie doesn't offer up much in the way of chills, thrills or spills. Instead what we have is a bare minimum of nonsensical plot, padded out with endless scenes of cars driving around and people talking. In fact, around the hour mark the plot seems to fall apart altogether, and instead the film opts for endless stalking sequences portraying Cameron Mitchell as he chases a blonde around his museum and later as he himself is pursued by a pair of bumbling, dim-witted cops.

Cameron Mitchell's delightfully hammy portrayal of the scarred, deranged curator of the wax museum is probably the only reason to see this film. Complete with a bizarre cape, eye patch, and scarred face (achieved with cheap clay-like makeup), Mitchell is a delight as he converses with his dummies and the dead, plots, and mutters bizarre threats and the like. It's a shame that the rest of the cast can't match his performance and just end up boring as a result, a factor which isn't help by the total lack of characterisation other than that of Mitchell's Vincent Renaud; Anne Helm is a pretty but vacuous actress and the detectives are just plain stupid (one of them played by John 'Bud' Cardos, who went on to direct THE DARK). The only character of interest is the slimy Max Black, as played by Berry Kroeger as an egocentric lecher wanting to have his wicked way with the ladies.

The film seems to have added in an unbelievable and unnecessary subplot that states that Mitchell's victims are not dead, but in a state of suspended animation; unfortunately a side-effect of the serum Mitchell uses on them means that they become animated again within a period of days so the fluid must be reapplied over and over. Surely it would be easier - and more fitting - just to kill the people and be done with it? Not in this film. The direction is static and unimaginative, the sets cheap-looking and lacking in atmosphere, despite being filmed in a real waxworks. Apart from Mitchell's colourful character, everything seems to be lacking in life and flourish.

The one good horror scene comes when Mitchell is horribly scarred by Black, who throws a glass of wine in his face which is then ignited by a lighter is holding. Mitchell jumps through a window and into a pool outside, where he grasps his horribly bleeding features, Grand Guignol style. Good sleazy stuff, but unfortunately the only scene in the movie to offer a real low budget thrill. The bizarre ending sees all of the dummies come back to life to dunk Mitchell in a pot of boiling wax, then Mitchell awake to discover that the entire film was just a nightmare - only for him to relive that nightmare once more and wake up once again to discover it wasn't real after all. Huh? Seems to this reviewer like they were just stuck for an ending so filled it with rubbish in a hope to appeal to those easily impressed instead.


Review by Leofwine_draca from the Internet Movie Database.

 

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