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House of Wax (1953) – Episode 25 – Decades of Horror: The Classic Era

“Everything I ever loved has been taken away from me, but not you, my Marie Antoinette, for I will give you eternal life.” A strange line indeed, especially when you discover Prof. Henry Jarrod is talking to a wax sculpture as if it is a living human being. Then you realize Vincent Price is the actor portraying Prof. Jarrod. The master of the macabre makes it all seem so much more normal. In this episode, your Grue Crew – Erin Miskell, Chad Hunt, Joseph Perry, & Jeff Mohr – wax poetic on the 3D groundbreaking House of Wax (1953).

Decades of Horror: The Classic Era
Episode 25 – House of Wax (1953)

Directed by André De Toth and written by Crane Wilbur from a story by Charles Belden, House of Wax tells the story of Prof. Henry Jarrod, a brilliant sculptor whose works populate the wax museum he owns. Early on, his partner (Roy Roberts) burns down the museum in pursuit for ill gotten gains with Prof. Jarrod inside. Badly burned, Jarrod can no longer sculpt so he enlists the aid of two assistants (Charles Bronson, Nedrick Young) to create his wax statues in order to reopen the museum. His intent is to use two beautiful roommates (Carolyn Jones, Phyllis Kirk) as his “models” for Joan of Arc and Marie Antoinette. It seems, however, that Prof. Jarrod’s trauma has taken his artistic obsession to a new level and his plans are far more diabolical than they at first appear.

House of Wax holds the distinction of being the first major studio production filmed in 3D. Who can forget the paddle-ball-thumping barker in front of Jarrod’s museum for its reopening, repeatedly whacking the ball straight into the camera? Joseph proclaims his love for the 3D gimmickry of this era, various items thrown into the screen and all.

For Erin, this one is all about the actors, Vincent Price and Carolyn Jones in a supporting role, and she wonders if Price’s character is the protagonist or the antagonist. House of Wax is a remake of Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933) and Jeff discusses the difference in the way drug addiction is portrayed in the pre-code original and how alcoholism is portrayed in the 1953 version. Erin broadens the discussion of addiction beyond drugs and alcohol to include behavioral obsessions as depicted in the film. Chad carries that on to relate to the attachment that artists feel for their creations. Joseph admits yet another childhood trauma (remember Invasion of the Body Snatchers?) relating to mannequins as the result of House of Wax.

We plan to release a new episode every other week. The next episode in our very flexible schedule is The Curse of Frankenstein (1957), selected and hosted by Chad Hunt. Episode 26 will be our anniversary episode so we will also discuss the podcast’s first year.

Please let us know what you think of Decades of Horror: The Classic Era and what films you’d like to hear us cover! We want to hear from you! After all, without you, we’re just four nutjobs talking about the films we love. Send us an email  (chadhunt@gruesomemagazine.com, erinmiskell@gruesomemagazine.com, jeffmohr@gruesomemagazine.com, or josephperry@gruesomemagazine.com) or leave us a message, a review, or a comment at GruesomeMagazine.com, iTunes, Stitcher, the Horror News Radio App, or the Horror News Radio Facebook group.

To each of you from each of us, “Thank you for listening!

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Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) – Episode 24 – Decades of Horror: The Classic Era

“I’ve been afraid a lot of times in my life. But I didn’t know the real meaning of fear until… until I had kissed Becky.” Have you ever kissed someone and realized they weren’t who they were? That’s the horror Miles Bennell is describing in this episode’s quote. Join Erin Miskell, Chad Hunt, Joseph Perry, and Jeff Mohr as they harvest the paranoia binbuster known as Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), Don Siegel’s classic, black and white, science-fiction shocker. They had to hurry before they fell asleep and became …, well, someone who wasn’t them.

Decades of Horror: The Classic Era
Episode 24 – Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

Invasion of the Body Snatchers is ably directed by Don Siegel (The Beguiled, Dirty Harry, The Shootist, and Escape from Alcatraz) and adapted by Daniel Mainwaring from Jack Finney’s novel The Body Snatchers. The film tells the paranoiac story of an alien invasion that consists of giant pods that take over people’s memories and replicate their bodies, all while they sleep. No one will ever be the wiser! Well, almost no one. Talk about a good motivation for insomnia. In fact, one of the films working titles was Sleep No More.

Including a cast of topnotch, veteran, character actors – Kevin McCarthy (Dr. Miles Bennell), Dana Wynter (Becky Driscoll), King Donovan (Jack Bellicec), Carolyn Jones (Theodora Bellicec), and Larry Gates (Dr. Dan Kaufman) – the film delivers what it’s selling. Coming on the heels of Senator Joseph McCarthy’s communist witch hunt and even though Finney and Siegel claimed no hidden, political message, the Invasion of the Body Snatchers resonated with the public’s fear of unfair prosecution and the resulting drive for conformity. It is an example of a perfect synergy between a film and the time in which it appeared in history.

Each of the Grue Crew was affected by this film in their “formative” years and have carried some image or theme from the film throughout their lives, Joseph Perry shares an especially personal story of how the film affected him and his nightmares. When it comes to the rules of the “science” in Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Chad Hunt points out some contradictions, but in the end, agrees they don’t detract from the impact of the film. Jeff Mohr wishes the studio hadn’t added a narration and changed the ending with the addition of a prologue and an epilogue, but still considers the film to be one of his favorites of the 1950s. Being a product of its time, Erin Miskell points out the homogeneity of the people and pod people populating the story and laments the problem still existing to some extent today.

We plan to release a new episode every other week. The next episode in our very flexible schedule is House of Wax (1953), selected and hosted by Erin Miskell.

Please let us know what you think of Decades of Horror: The Classic Era and what films you’d like to hear us cover! We want to hear from you! After all, without you, we’re just four nutjobs talking about the films we love. Send us an email  (chadhunt@gruesomemagazine.com, erinmiskell@gruesomemagazine.com, jeffmohr@gruesomemagazine.com, or josephperry@gruesomemagazine.com) or leave us a message, a review, or a comment at GruesomeMagazine.com, iTunes, Stitcher, the Horror News Radio App, or the Horror News Radio Facebook group.

To each of you from each of us, “Thank you for listening!