I think sometimes that movie titles are deliberately misleading to get people interested in seeing the movie. Take today’s movie for instance. When I saw the title of this movie, I thought it was going to be something similar to House Of Wax or A Bucket Of Blood as far as the plot. But alas, Hollywood has tricked me in this fashion as that is not at all what the movie was about. Well, I might as well deal with my disappointment and get to watching today’s movie, Nightmare In Wax.
The plot: At a Hollywood party, Max Block, the head of Paragon Pictures, offers a toast to Marie Morgan and Tony Deen, two actors that have recently gotten engaged. After getting a ride back to his apartment from Max, Tony is jabbed with a syringe and when he turns around, he recognizes his assailant just before he is rendered unconscious. A few months later, a tour group is going through a wax museum and the guide comes to an exhibit featuring three actors that worked for Paragon Pictures and had gone missing and says that a figure of Tony Deen would be added soon. In the back area, Vincent Renard is working on a bust when the tour guide calls back and says Detective Haskell is there to see him. Letting the detective and his partner, Sergeant Carver, back into his work shop, the two detectives question Vincent about the wax figures and Tony’s disappearance and Vincent mentions a rumor about an insurance policy Max has on Tony. As Haskell continues talking to Vincent, he brings up the incident that caused Vincent’s disfigurement. Vincent has a flashback about when he and Marie were in love and Marie was hesitant to tell Max about it as Max also had feelings for Marie. When Marie told Max that she was going to marry Vincent, Max got upset and threw his drink into Vincent’s face as he was lighting a cigarette, causing Vincent to catch on fire. Snapping back to the present, Vincent tells the detective that he is happy with his life making wax sculptures and the detectives leave and go talk to Marie while back in his workshop, Vincent starts ranting. The Haskell and Carver head to see Marie, who asks them if there is any news about Tony. Telling her it is a routine follow-up, they ask Marie about Max and the accident with Vincent and Marie has a flashback to when she visited Vincent in the hospital and tried to stop him from pushing her away but she ran when he forced her to look at his ruined eye. When the detectives mention that Vincent is making a sculpture of Tony, Marie isn’t sure if she likes the idea and after they leave, she calls Vincent. The two talk and Marie invites Vincent to dinner, which he hesitantly accepts and after hanging up the phone, Vincent hears a voice repeatedly saying “Hello Marie” and he lifts the sheet to reveal Tony saying it and Vince tells him to shut up just before injecting him again. Max shows up at Marie’s house and tries to pressure her into doing another movie but Marie says that with Tony’s disappearance that she refuses to make another movie. Max threatens to sue her for breach of contract and to placate him, she says she will call him the next day and asks that he leave, just as Vincent arrives. Max gets nervous and quickly leaves but gets agitated when he heads outside and drives off, with another car following him. Back at the house, Marie talks with Vincent and asks if she can have the head of the Tony figure as something to remember him and Vincent agrees if she will model for him. The next day at the museum, the tour guide, Nick, makes his closing rounds and notices one of the statues blinking. He goes to tell Vincent and Vincent steadily pours him drinks until he has Nick believing he was simply drunk when he saw it, then when he leaves, he takes a syringe and injects the woman with it. That night, Vincent goes to a club and starts sketching one of the dancers, Theresa, whose wax head he has been working on, and as she comes over to talk to him, she mentions Max is going to have her in one of his movies and Vincent has her bring Max with her to see the wax bust of her. The next day, Max goes to the studio and talks to the director about Marie and comes up with an idea of shooting the movie at the wax museum and using the statue of Tony. The director calls Marie to tell her the plan and then goes to see Vincent, who agrees to do it. That night, Max is with Theresa and she directs him to the wax museum and they go inside, unaware that they are being followed. Inside, Vincent shows them the bust and then offers them a toast to celebrate, having placed drugs in the glasses to use on them. Max drinks his glass, and as he begins feeling the effects of the drugs, Vincent begins telling him his plans for Max. Theresa didn’t drink her glass and Vincent chases her throughout the museum and eventually catches and kills her. Vincent goes back to Max, who Vincent is able to control due to the hypnotizing effects of the drug, and taunts him before he takes the body of Theresa and places it in Max’s car and drives off, followed by Haskell and Carver. Realizing the cops are following him, Vincent speeds up and heads towards the marina, and proceeds to play a cat and mouse game with the Haskell and Carver, who thinks that they are chasing Max, before eventually locking them in a section of the marina. The next day, Haskell goes to talk to Vincent and questions him about Max and Theresa being there. Later, Marie shows up and Vincent shows her Tony’s head and then has her sit in a cabinet that he uses for models. Meanwhile, Nick is walking through the museum and notices that the statues of the three missing actors are blinking and moving and so he decides he needs another drink. Vincent reveals that Tony and Max are alive and under his control thanks to the drug he injects him with. He has Max hang over a vat of wax and then allows Max to talk again and Max starts pleading for his life. Vincent goes to get the other actors to witness this and Haskell sees this and follows him. One of the actors attacks him and ends up electrocuting herself but Vincent has the other two grab Haskell. Max starts laughing and taunting Vincent, causing Vincent to get upset and lunge at Max and he ends up falling into the vat of wax himself and as he dies, he is haunted by visions of everyone laughing at him as well as the events that lead him there.
This was definitely an odd, confusing, and utterly predictable movie. The acting was ok, with Cameron Mitchell (Vincent) and Anne Helm (Marie) doing a good job, as did Berry Kroeger (Max), but Scott Brady (Haskell) kept going back and forth between a good detective and a bumbling flatfoot cop. The story was interesting but I am still annoyed with the misleading title, as it suggested something completely different for the plot. There wasn’t much in the way of special effects and as far as drama goes, it was pretty weak. The ending was especially odd, not so much that Vincent fell into the vat himself but the whole flashback part and then the credits rolling as Vincent is clawing at his face. There are better ways to kill time than watching this movie.
Rating: 1 1/2 out of 5