The history behind the 1997 horror film Wax Mask is probably more interesting than the actual movie. In 1994, Dario Argento wanted to collaborate with Lucio Fulci, who was not in good shape and the duo decided to adapt the House of Wax story (unless Warner Bros came asking, then it was Gaston Leroux’s The Waxwork Museum where the inspiration came from.) Production lasted a bit too long for Fulci, who passed away in 1997, resulting in the directorial duties going to Argento friend Sergio Stivaletti, whose speciality was in special effects. The story was changed up a bit to focus more on special effects (after seeing the movie, I feel like maybe a bit more attention was required in the CGI area) and the rest is history. One 7 Movies has decided to release Wax Mask on Blu-ray in a not too bad release, with some behind the scenes footage and an okay transfer. Nevertheless, should you plop your money down on a low budget Italian film with some issues? Read on to find out…
DISCS: 1 RUN-TIME: 94 min ASPECT RATIO: 1.78:1 RESOLUTION: 1080p AUDIO: English/Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround, English/Italian Stereo LANGUAGE: English/Italian SUBTITLES: None! REGION: All Regions RATING: NR PRODUCTION DATE: 1997 RELEASE DATE: Jan 31, 2017
There’s a new attraction in town that’s not for the fainthearted. A wax museum that recreates, for the thrills of a paying audience, some of the most gruesome murders ever committed by human hands. A young man makes a bet with his friends that he can spend an entire night in the museum but he is found dead the morning after. Who is the savage slayer? The police are unable to come up with a reason or a clue to identify the murderer. Weirdly enough, the museum starts featuring new murder scenes as the killing spree increases. Is the metal-clawed killer that haunted Paris years ago, prowling the streets of Rome looking for fresh flesh and blood?
Wax Mask takes the standard House of Wax story and runs with it. We have the deformed, hands of steel curator of a wax museum killing people and turning them into wax figures. We have the beautiful Sonia Lafont (Romina Mondello), who works at the museum, not knowing what goes behind the scenes. All of this is wrapped up in a 1900’s package that manages to rip off The Terminator near the end.
That’s where the problems come out to play with Wax Mask. The ending is mindbogglingly abysmal. So many plot threads are left hanging in the air; it almost becomes a farce of epic proportions. Characters drop out of the film, a Terminator shows up, and Romina Mondello bares her magnificent breasts. My mind is still spinning over what I just witnessed.
The movie wasn’t so bad before that terrible ending. It did run a bit on the slow side, and if filmmakers thought they were hiding who the killer was, they failed pretty badly, as it’s quite easy to tell who it is. Nonetheless, the film manages to capture that wacky doodle Italian horror feeling we all love quite nicely. We have the laughable voice dubbing, the beautiful set pieces and they do a damn fine job of making the film look like the early 1900s. With a measly budget of a little under $1.25 million, I applaud them for doing the job they did, even if the ending tasted like someone shit in your cornflakes.
Okay, now that we know the movie is neither great nor terrible, what about the Blu-ray. It certainly is not going to stack up against most of the other horror releases of the past few months, but for the type of film it is, the Blu-ray does a serviceable job. The video transfer is a bit on the rough side. At times the film looks crystal clear, and other times the footage degrades and becomes not as sharp. The audio is served up in three different flavours. You have the 5.1 English dubbed version, which oddly enough has a few lines spoken in Italian, with no subtitles. Also provided is the 5.1 Italian version and finally an English and Italian Stereo option. Where in the hell are the English subtitles?
As for special features, you have some pretty fun Behind the scenes footage to peruse through. Nothing spectacular, but it’s always enjoyable to see all the people working on a movie, and that is exactly what these features provide, bare in mind you understand Italian.
Backstage Scenes (22:43)
Special Effects Scenes (13:05)
So, Wax Mask isn’t going to win any awards, unless there is an award for weirdest out of the blue ending. Nevertheless, the film was fun at times, and the special effects do look nice (that heart-ripping scene was pretty gnarly). We also have some lovely boobies to drool over, so hey, that’s an A+ in my dirty little book. In the end, you might get a kick out of the movie, and One 7 Movies Blu-ray release would be the perfect way to go about watching it.