April 10, 1953: First Color 3-D Film Opens
AAHHHHH!! On this day in 1953, the horror film, The House of Wax, starring Vincent Price, opens at New York’s Paramount Theater. Released by Warner Brothers, it was the first movie from a major motion-picture studio to be shot using the three-dimensional, or stereoscopic film process and one of the first horror films to be shot in color.
The House of Wax was a remake of the 1933 film, Mystery in the Wax Museum. Directed by Andre De Toth, it told the story of Henry Jarrod (Vincent Price), a sculptor who goes insane after his partner burns their wax museum down in order to collect the insurance payout.
Jarros survives the fire and opens his own wax museum that features an exhibit of creepy past and present crimes, including the murder of his ex-partner who was slaughtered by a mysterious disfigured killer.
The 3-D filming process involved using two cameras, or a single twin-lensed camera, to represent both the right and the left eye of the human viewer. Images from the two cameras were then projected simultaneously onto the screen.
Moviegoers had to view The House of Wax through special stereoscopic glasses to see its full 3-D effect. The 3-D process proved especially effective during the film’s climactic chase scene, where the cloaked killer pursues Kirk’s character through a series of gas-lit streets and alleyways… the viewer following along behind them.
The House of Wax launched the long and successful career of Vincent Price as a star of horror movies. It also jump-started the career of Charles Buchinsky, who played the supporting role of Jarrod’s mute servant.
Who is Charles Buchinsky? You’ve probably head of Charles Bronson.
The movie earned an impressive $4.3 million (by 1953 standards) at the box office and sparked an explosion of poor quality and forgettable 3-D thrillers. Apart from a brief resurgence in the 1970’s the popularity of 3-D lasted only about a year in the United States; its demise was generally blamed on the poor quality of the 3-D films produced.
The latest remake was 2005’s House of Wax featuring Paris Hilton in her most memorable role, getting a steak thrust through her forehead, YIKES!