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Film / House of Wax (2005)

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House of Wax is a 2005 Hillbilly Horrors Slasher Movie. It is inspired by the 1953 Vincent Price film of the same name (but see below). It stars Elisha Cuthbert, Chad Michael Murray, Jared Padalecki, Paris Hilton, Brian Van Holt, and Damon Herriman.

Carly, her boyfriend, her other friends, and her brother are on their way to a major football game. They get lost on the drive there and are eventually lured into a Ghost Town (the fictional town of Ambrose, Louisiana) where a killer is waiting for them.

This film provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents:
    • Bo and Vincent's parents strapped one of their children into his high chair if he was misbehaving and the mother is shown hitting him in the face.
    • Nick and Carly's parents were emotionally abusive to Nick during his teenage years, frequently comparing him to Carly and eventually leading him to think of himself as The Un-Favourite.
  • Action Girl: Carly, who kills both of the villains.
  • And I Must Scream: Wade is knocked out and covered in wax, then placed in an exhibit. In contrast to the other victims, he's still alive when this happens.
  • Agony of the Feet:
    • Vincent subdues Wade by pulling the scissors on his ankle.
    • Paige also gets stabbed through the heel.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: The last two shots of Vincent and Bo with their bodies stacked up in reminiscent of how they were first conjoined before they were separated by their doctor father as they are submerged by the pool of wax would count.
  • Annoying Arrows: Averted. One of the killer's brothers is shot and impaled with two arrows. He slowly (and very painfully) pulls out one from under his arm (which releases a lot of blood, and he promptly bandages it) and then tries to remove the one from the side of his chest, but the pain makes him vomit. Rather than risk passing out and bleeding to death he just cuts off the end of the arrow, leaving the rest in his chest to become a Chekhov's Gun when Nick twists it to cause Bo agony as they fight. While one could argue that Bo should have died from the arrows, Carly beats him to death with a baseball bat before that can happen.
  • Anywhere but Their Lips: After gluing Carly's mouth closed, Bo licks his lips in an almost lecherous manner and looks like he's about to kiss her. Instead, he blows on her mouth to speed up the glue hardening. He then kisses her on the forehead, which still unsettles her. It's justified, he seems to want to kiss her on the lips after commenting on them and her pretty mouth, but not to the point of having his own lips glued to hers.
  • Artistic License – Physics:
    • Wax isn’t particularly adhesive, so a wax-covered Wade being Flayed Alive when Dalton tries to scrape it off his face really shouldn’t have been plausible; if anything the wax should peel off easily without taking any skin or flesh with it.
    • Wax has an incredibly low melting point, so even long before the ending where the wax museum melts down due to a fire, any hot weather should have been enough to melt the museum.
  • Ax-Crazy: Bo is violently unhinged.
  • Barbarian Long Hair: Vincent has a long black mane, fitting considering he's a freak.
  • Batter Up!: Carly defends herself from Vincent and Bo with a baseball bat, killing the latter with it.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted for the females as Carly gets her finger cut off and her lips glued together, meaning she has to pull them apart and spends the rest of the film with a bloody mouth. Even Paige gets stabbed in the ankle. However, Nick almost manages to go through the whole film with only just a little bit of dirt on himself, he gets stabbed in the leg only at the end.
  • Bench Breaker: When Cary is strapped to a surgical chair in the basement of the gas station, she manages to escape by pulling loose the rail by unscrewing the cap screw on one side of the chair.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Bo and Vincent Sinclair.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Nick towards Carly, as revealed when the killers attack. She more than returns the favour in the climax.
  • Camera Fiend: Dalton, who is quite fond of filming the couples making out.
  • Chase Scene: Several, but Paige notably gets a lengthy chase by Vincent through the woods and an abandoned sugar mill, where he ultimately kills her.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The House of Wax literally being made of wax, including the walls.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Subverted. Carly sees an old woman pulling her curtain back as Bo is attacking her. When she escapes and goes to that woman for help, it turns out she's just a wax figure too - on a mechanism to help her pull the curtain.
  • Collapsing Lair: In this case, melting lair. See Exact Words below.
  • Conjoined Twins: Bo and Vincent were originally conjoined, with Vincent's mouth locked on the back of Bo's head. They were separated from each other in an incredibly risky procedure that left Vincent's face maimed for life.
  • Convection, Schmonvection: The main characters escape from said house as it melts and burns, not bothered by the heat at all. Which is doubly jarring, considering the melted wax they're wading/crawling through should certainly burn them on contact, even if ambient heat doesn't.
  • Creepy Gas-Station Attendant: Lester, while owns a truck collecting roadkill instead of running a gas station, does fit the bill in all other aspects of the trope: giving the characters a lift to get their vehicle repaired while being creepy, and is one of the first things not being quite right.
  • Cuteness Proximity: Carly Squees when she sees a pet store.
  • Damsel Fight-and-Flight Response: The heroine gets a hold of a baseball bat and smacks one of the killers down. It's set up to look like she'll run off like pretty much every other horror movie. But after a pause, she continues to hit him until he dies. And then some.
  • Dead Guy on Display: Naturally all the figures in the House of Wax are real people.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Wade looks like he'll be a prominent character, judging by his status as Carly's boyfriend. He's the first one killed off.
  • Developing Doomed Characters: The film opens with a subplot about how twins Nick and Carly are at odds, Paige is worried she might be pregnant and Carly is anxious about taking a job opportunity in New York. All of which is rendered meaningless when the horror starts.
  • Don't Go in the Woods: The horror kicks off when the kids decide to sleep in a campsite near the woods.
  • Dwindling Party: The party begins with six friends (Carly, Nick, Paige, Blake, Dalton and Wade) ... and ends with two. It is strongly implied that several large parties of tourists, college students, etc. have visited the town before with all of them falling victim to Bo and Vincent.
  • Enfante Terrible: Bo seems to have been born damaged, and was violent from a very early age.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Although Dalton has a slightly pervy crush on Carly and films everyone with his camera, he too stands before her to prevent Lester from watching her change.
  • Evil Cripple: Vincent's face is so disfigured that he cannot speak.
  • Evil Twin: Discussed by Carly. She said Nick often got a hard time from their parents, leading to him thinking of himself as the evil twin. Bo is Vincent's Evil Twin.
  • Exact Words: The house of wax in this version is literally made out of wax.
  • Fan Disservice: Jared Padalecki shirtless? How about when he's being sprayed with boiling hot wax - after he's been drugged to boot.
  • Fanservice: Nick removes his shirt for Carly to wear which allows viewers to see Chad Michael Murray shirtless and doubles by placing Elisha Cuthbert in a tank top for the rest of the movie. note  Oh, and Paris Hilton's striptease of course.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Wade. He gets turned into a wax sculpture, but doesn't die right away...
  • Faux Affably Evil: Bo. He first appears to be charming but is really Ax-Crazy.
  • Final Girl: Carly, who (barely, along with Nick) escapes the burning wax house moments before it collapses into its cellar.
  • Fingore: Bo cuts the tip off of one of Carly's fingers.
  • Forceful Kiss: Subverted; after gluing Carly's mouth closed, Bo seemingly attempts to kiss her... but instead blows on the glue to help it dry faster. Though he does kiss her on the forehead.
  • Freudian Excuse:
    • Bo might have been bad from birth, but his parents manacling him to a chair (and then duct-taping him to it on top of that) and beating him didn't help it any. It's worth noting that what he tries to do to Carly is a reenactment of what his parents did to him.
    • Vincent was left disfigured and unable to speak by the procedure that separated him from Bo. Then when their parents died, he was left with Bo as his only contact with the outside world.
  • From Dress to Dressing: Carly tears strips off the top she is wearing to bandage her mutilated finger.
  • Hillbilly Horrors: This version takes place in the countryside with psycho killers.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: Bo towards Carly. It's hinted early on when he playfully flirts with her in front of her boyfriend, and his capture of her suggests he had more sexual interests. It would have probably gone further had Nick and Dalton not come.
  • Indirect Kiss: Bo blows on Carly's mouth after gluing them, having licked his lips before doing so and puckering his lips, making it look like he was planting a kiss her on her mouth.
  • In Name Only: Despite the title, this is really a remake of the 1978 film Tourist Trap, right down to having bodies turned into statues (plastic in Tourist Trap, wax here) and the twist of an unknown brother used to distract the victims and audience from identifying the real killer.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Paige is impaled through the head with a length of jagged pipe that then holds her up as her body attempts to slump to the floor.
  • Irony: Blake and Paige are attacked while listening to a voicemail from Carly calling them for help.
  • Karma Houdini: It's clear at the end that nothing happens to Bo and Vincent's brother Lester, who drove Carly and Wade to Ambrose at the beginning and possibly drove or directed many victims to Ambrose in the past. Though his clear lack of intelligence and the fact that he doesn't at any point help his siblings in the actual murdering could mean he might have been an Unwitting Pawn of his much smarter brothers instead.
  • Kill the Cutie: Most slasher films have at least one good-looking chick killed, in horrifying fashion, at some point in the film. Paris Hilton is no different when she gets impaled in the head by a giant pole Vincent lobs at her.
  • MacGuffin: The college football game that Blake is dying to see is what causes the gang to be travelling that particular weekend.
  • Mad Artist: Vincent, who kills his victims and assembles wax sculptures around their corpses.
  • Made of Iron: Bo takes two crossbow bolts, a knife wound, and multiple baseball bat blows to the head before he goes down.
  • Male Gaze: While Vincent is trying to stab Paige in the chest, the camera angle allows her breasts to be on convenient display.
  • Malevolent Masked Man: Vincent wears a wax mask to cover up his badly disfigured face.
  • Mask of Sanity: Bo's is very thin and frayed. He can fake being functional for a few minutes, but his real agenda becomes clear if his targets are given even a moment to think for themselves.
  • Mouth Stitched Shut: Bo superglues Carly's lips together, muttering to himself as he does so about how her lips need to look right. She's able to (painfully) pry them apart to scream for Nick's help.
  • My Sister Is Off-Limits: Nick says this about Dalton's interest in Carly.
  • Obliviously Evil / Kindhearted Simpleton: May be the case with Lester, the third brother. Of the three brothers, he seems to be the most 'normal', albeit not very bright. While he does seem to be luring innocent victims to their doom, he may be doing so under orders from his smarter siblings with no knowledge of what the siblings actually intend to do with them.
  • Off with His Head!: Vincent uses his twin knives to decapitate Dalton after he falls over.
  • Paddleball Shot: Despite not being a 3D movie, this film contains several shots of weapons coming straight at the camera in the style of this trope, in Homage to Trope Maker House of Wax (1953).
  • Pair the Spares: Parodied. Dalton films Wade and Carly making out, then Blake and Paige. He starts filming Nick, who then says "don't think about it. I ain't kissing you, dude".
  • Parental Favouritism: Carly and Nick's parents favoured her over him, Vincent and Bo's parents favoured Vincent.
  • Psycho Knife Nut: The villains Vincent and Bo both favour knives for close-up work, with Bo packing a shorter one, while Vincent carries a pair of longer blades that are almost, but not quite, machetes.
  • Red Right Hand: Vincent's deformed face, which he conceals beneath a wax mask.
  • Red Herring: Carly's voicemail to Blake, during which Bo attacks her. While he does hear it, he's attacked by Vincent before he can do anything about it.
  • Rule of Sexy: Why, exactly, does Paige feel the need to strip down to her lingerie and do a striptease right before breaking the news that she's pregnant to her boyfriend? The director probably doesn't know either. But, dammit, they paid for Paris Hilton's bod, and they were gonna show it off! They were about to have sex, but she stopped because she wanted to actually talk instead of fool around.
  • Sex Signals Death: Inverted. Paige might be pregnant, implying that she and Blake have had sex. But they get killed off after she decides not to fool around.
  • Shear Menace: Vincent uses a set of scissors to cut Wade's tendons and cripple him.
  • Shirtless Scene:
    • Blake gets one when he's waking up the morning after the party. And another when he and Paige are about to fool around.
    • Nick takes off his shirt to give to Carly to wear.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: Averted. Bo's shotgun is dangerous but he's outshot by Nick and his crossbow.
  • Shout-Out: While the rest of the film looks more like Tourist Trap than the original House of Wax, the entire character of Vincent is a shout-out to both the 1953 film, and its star, Vincent Price.
    • The sequence of Carly trying to climb the melting wax staircase hearkens back to Nancy trying to escape Freddy via a melting staircase in the climactic dream sequence in A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984).
  • Siblings in Crime: Slashers Bo and Vincent. There's also a younger brother who directs their victims to them.
  • Sibling Rivalry: Between Nick and Carly, due to their parents favoring Carly during their teen years.
    • Also between Bo and Vincent, hence the opening credits.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Carly's an A student with everything ahead of her, Nick's a delinquent with little to look forward to but jail time. In the meantime, Bo is a Talkative Loon who can't shut up and is in it for the violence, while Vincent is an artistic Silent Antagonist.
  • Silent Antagonist: Vincent can't speak.
  • Slashers Prefer Blondes: Blonde Paige is killed. It's no coincidence that Elisha Cuthbert who plays Carly has her normally blonde hair brunette in this film.
  • There Is Another: At the end of movie, Bo and Vincent are revealed to have a third brother: Lester, the guy who gives Carly and Wade a ride into town. Though kind of subverted as there's no evidence that he's anything like his siblings, and he has a regular job disposing of roadkill.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: Ambrose is now a ghost town where all the residents have been turned into waxworks.
  • Traumatic Haircut: If you allow facial hair, Wade gets his beard and eyebrows waxed off against his will.
  • Wax Museum Morgue: There's a literal example downstairs with the bodies that haven't been displayed yet.
  • You Can Leave Your Hat On: Paige does this for Blake - right before she plans to tell him she's pregnant. Well played, Paris.


Video Example(s):


Elisha's glued lips

Elisha Cuthbert explains that when her character got her lips glued shut, they actually used real glue for the scene.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / EnforcedMethodActing

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