Sunday, January 5, 2014

NIGHTMARE IN WAX (1969)




Directed by Bud Townsend
Written by Rex Carlton
Starring Cameron Mitchell, Lawrence Tierney, Bud Cardos, Anne Helm, Berry Kroeger and Victoria Carroll

The film opens on a close up of Cameron Mitchell's eye that becomes the scene of the movie. As make up man Vincent Renard, Mitchell is wooing leading lady Marie Morgan (Anne Helm) from producer Max Black (Berry Kroeger). They are all at a Hollywood party and when Vincent goes to light a cigarette, Max throws a drink in his face setting him alight, scarring his face horribly and causes him to lose an eye.
Shattered, hideous, Vincent starts a wax museum using his skills to make the most life like wax models ever seen before.
One little secret.
Vincent actually came up with a paralyzing drug filled with nutrients that keeps people immobile and healthy for long periods of time. Just because Max got away with disfiguring him and losing his woman doesn't mean he hasn't been scheming on how to destroy Max.
Unfortunately, he has been so consumed with jealousy that the police are getting suspicious. Vincent gets regular visits from Detectives Haskell (Lawrence Tierney) and Carver (Bud Cardos). He tries to throw them off the trail by blaming Max who is after the insurance money. This sort of backfires when he uses Theresa (Victoria Carroll) to lure Max to his workshop where he can inject Max with the serum to make him a mindless, immobile slave. He has to kill Theresa, but not before he torments her with a mad chase through the wax museum.
NIGHTMARE IN WAX is really an opportunity to watch Cameron Mitchell do what he does best, chew the scenery. There are times his true acting ability shines in this bizarre film, but he's stuck in a part that has been done before and done better. The scarred madman who kills to make his wax figures a reality.
Between Vincent Price in HOUSE OF WAX and Lionell Atwill in MYSTERY OF THE WAX MUSEUM, what chance does Cameron Mitchell have?
I did give his character credit in that he keeps his victims alive, but it led to a question;
Wouldn't the people age? And even though the injections give the necessary nutrients and vitamins for survival, isn't there still body waste of some kind? Did he outfit them all with a Depends? And whose job is it changing those?  Might have been less complicated just killing them. Worked for Lionell and Vincent.
I just now got that Cameron Mitchell's character was named 'Vincent'. Clever.
NIGHTMARE IN WAX is an interesting addition to the psycho in a wax museum sub genre, but the ending comes across as a monumental cheat...unless you take the title literally.

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