Saturday, October 17, 2009
31 Days of Halloween - Day 17 - Movie 2
Since Freddy Krueger was out of the picture tonight (see previous post) for my second movie I chose one that also featured a sinister burn victim. "Mystery of the Wax Museum" (1933) stars Lionell Atwill as Ivan Igor, a brilliant sculptor who devotes his skills towards fashioning realistic wax depictions of historic figures. His business partner wants money, not artistry, and when Igor refuses to debase his art by creating shocking displays like other wax museums, his partner torches the establishment for the insurance money, and Igor with it.
Years later Igor has opened a new wax museum. Scarred and wheelchair bound, he guides other sculptors in doing the work he no longer can. A young reporter with moxie (Glenda Farrell), connects the wax museum to a series of corpse snatchings from the local morgue, while her roommate (Fay Wray) finds herself much closer to the truth of what's happening at the wax museum.
Best known as for being remade as the 3-D Vincent Price movie "House of Wax" (1953), "Mystery of the Wax Museum" is a bit clunky and overfilled with subplots that don't really add any layers of depth to this thin thriller. Atwill has great screen presence as Igor, but it's girl reporter, Farrell who carries the movie. I have to say, I'm not really a fan of her performance, and that hinders my enjoyment of the movie. Fay Wray doesn't have much to do except look demure and pretty and to practice her screaming for "King Kong" released that same year. The burn make-up is very effective. This movie is a quick, entertaining enough diversion, but not one of the masterpieces of horror cinema produced by 1930s Hollywood.