Category: Wax Museums

Nightmare in Wax (1969)


Gorehouse Greats Collection #4

Oh Cameron Mitchell, how many times have I had to stare at your face?  Usually when I’m not expecting it since cheap DVDs don’t always advertise that you’re in the movie.  But there you are again, acting the living Hell out of some low-budget piece of crap like Space Mutiny, The Demon, or my personal favorite obscure junk pile Texas Lightening.  And here you are once again playing another deranged psycho and it almost feels like a warm up for The Toolbox Murders! It’s like a nice warm hug from a greasy b-movie producer that probably has a stash of filthy pornography somewhere at home…

I have watched way too many crummy old movies, Cameron Mitchell turning up again is the least of my worries here.  This film’s writer/producer is Rex Carlton who also wrote and produced Blood of Dracula’s Castle, The Devil’s Hand (a movie I’ll get to shortly), and The Brain That Wouldn’t Die, the movie that made me a b-movie obsessive.  Rex shot himself in 1968, reportedly over money he had borrowed from the mob to finance his films, but IMDB still gives him credit for producing four other films after that, which probably means that these projects had very long gestation periods, which quite honestly doesn’t surprise me at all….

Good old Cameron Mitchell (actually a very young Cameron Mitchell here) stars as a special effects guy (“The best since Lon Chaney!”)  that hooks up with a pretty female actor which pisses off the producer of a movie studio. Mitchell ends up with his face horrible disfigured! Oh no! How gruesome! Actually it’s some of the shittiest movie makeup I’ve ever seen in my life. It appears to be wall plaster and if you look close in some scenes, you can see it peeling off! Wonderful.
At any rate, for some reason Mitchell decides to open a wax museum, which becomes very popular but oh no! Actors from the movie studio are vanishing! If you’ve seen any of these movies of this type, you’d think that he’s dipping them in wax but this film is too cheap for that, so Mitchell just injects a serum into their necks that turns them into zombies that he can pose and…yeah none of this makes a lick of damn sense.  I’d call it writing around a budget (which was probably exactly five dollars and 35 cents) but you seriously can’t have a wax museum movie without someone getting dipped in wax! That’s cheating! Well, this was released by Crown International, so I’d expect nothing less.

Despite not living up to the high standards of the many previous ventures into evil wax museums (what is with horror movies and this setting?)  I rather enjoyed this thing. It’s one of those strange movies  that can’t seem to decide if it’s horror or comedy so it hits an uncomfortable middle ground where the viewer is constantly left scratching his or her head.  What are we supposed to make of the scene where Mitchell fools the dumbass police officer by putting a goofy mustache and clown nose on the zombified face of one of his victims? Or the super annoying comic relief tour guide? Or the dumbass cops? it makes me feel awkward, which is always lovely.
Although it’s a bit too talky for it’s own good and there’s annoying filler scenes that goes nowhere, what really makes Nightmare in Wax worth a late night viewing is that it’s pure unadulterated trash, the kind that’s on at 3 in the morning so when you wake up at noon the next day you have strange memories of an awful 1960’s rock band, go-go dancers, and  Cameron Mitchell studying an old tire (all three of which are in this movie).
It’s really not worth killing yourself over though. Poor Rex Carlton.  May he rest in sleazy pieces…

Rating: B

Random Things

  • Huge beehive hairdos? Go-go dancers doing the mashed potato? Trippy drug inspired ending sequence? The 60’s were cool, man.
  • The copy on this DVD set has really terrible audio. It sounds like it’s coming from a blown out speaker! Not that most of the dialogue is really worth hearing anyways…
  • I now have this sick desire to watch Space Mutiny for about the 100th time. “Santa’s playing Freecell over there!”