House Of Wax DVD Review

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by Chris McEneany Sep 1, 2005 at 12:00 AM

    House Of Wax DVD Review
    SRP: £13.38


    Well, House Of Wax looks mighty fine, indeed. Its anamorphic 1.85:1 image is very crisp, very clean and blissfully devoid of any digital bugbears like artifacting, motion-drag or pixilation. It does possess a small amount of edge-enhancement, but nowhere near enough to pose a problem. Obviously, with a film this recent, there is precious little sign of grain, and no print damage that I noticed. The standard high-sheen gloss that Dark Castle loves to bestow upon their product is in full effect here, and the disc copes admirably with its presentation of colour and detail. The full spectrum is employed boldly and with terrific strength and vitality, from rich primaries to the more subtle shades. Skin-tones are excellent, be they real skin or wax. Likewise, black levels are superb, adding tenfold to the atmospherics of the warren-like lair beneath the House of Wax, or the menacing night-time sequences around the doomed camp.

    Contrast is very well maintained, with beautifully clear headlight beams cutting through the murk, smooth transitions from light to dark and vice versa and zero evidence of smudging. A nicely buffed print reveals plenty of fine detail - the wicked needles, screws and bolts on the bizarre waxing contraption down in the basement - and injuries are deliciously clear to behold.

    All in all, this is a typically accomplished transfer from a studio who, at least, know just how to churn out visually scintillating DVDs.
    House Of Wax Picture


    Although furnished with a Dolby Digital 5.1 track, I have to admit that I was quite disappointed with the sonic experience delivered from House Of Wax. Oh yes, it is definitely robust and quite loud, bouncing from your speakers with suitable gusto - but there seems to be a certain lack of actual surround usage. The rears appear mainly to reinforce the ambience, with little in the way of spooky steerage to have you glancing over your shoulder. John Ottman's score does come over well. But, unfortunately, so do those damn rock tracks. In fact, the only really noticeable use of full surround is the from the R&B track playing on the beat-box outside a stripping Hilton's tent, as she and Blake attempt to get it on.

    However, the front soundstage is very well utilised and we are supplied with a few directional effects. Dialogue is always clear and the sub gets a good look-in come the fiery climax - though I think a few more bits of burning debris whistling past our ears would have been nice, at least.

    Not bad, then. But the track is certainly more focussed across the front.
    House Of Wax Sound


    Take a glance at the extras listing in this review, or have a gander at the back of the box and you could be forgiven for thinking that there's some good stuff been thrown in. Guess again, folks. This is pure pap, of the lowest denominator.

    Starting with the so-called Video Cast Commentary, which initially sounded like it could be fun. All we are treated to here is roughly 26 mins of split screen dumbness, with the bottom screen a selection of naff raw footage from the production, and the top screen a sofa full of the nerds from the movie trying to be witty as they watch each other mess lines up, or fall over, or do absolutely nothing of interest whatsoever. For the record there's Cuthbert (who comes off the worst from this tripe), Murray, Hilton and Jared Padalecki. It proves to be lots of giggles for them, but very rarely for us. This is complete and utter garbage. Honestly. And it truly proves that these bozos are anything but cool. Dull, inarticulate airheads - the lot of them. Hilton, however, does supply one amusing remark regarding her unfortunate meeting with a sharp implement. “I look like I've got a dildo on my head,” she deadpans. Well, if it fits, love ... wear it.

    Next up, we get seven or so minutes of pumped-up, rock-blasting behind-the-scenes glimpses of how the ghost town and the titular House of Wax were constructed, in Wax On: The Design of the House Of Wax. With a tiny modicum of concept art and a little spiel of the real-life inspirations for the look of the sets, this is just an MTV flash-edit that tries to convince of us the painstaking craft and dedication it took to make the movie look sensational.Collet-Serra loves to work with wax and really wanted to make it look different, but only at the very end of the film does his wish come true. Lame filler, folks.

    House Built On Wax: The Visual Effects of House Of Wax (10.11 mins) is more of the same, unfortunately. We meet the executive producer Herb Gains, who utters those pathetically EPK lines like “We wanted it to be real,” and we're asked to believe that the tricks we see are merely enhancements, as opposed to visual effects. Yeah, right. They even say that their re-invention of the Price vehicle shouldn't be slick-looking. Come again? With Silver and Zemeckis pulling the purse strings, how could it be anything but? Someone even says that they wanted a semi-documentary look to the film. This stuff really stretches credibility and tries the patience. Works only as an FX highlight showcase, folks.

    The Gag Reel (3.16 mins) is absolute garbage. But they even manage to worsen the totally inept and unfunny package by slapping another rock track over it.

    Aha, the Alternate Opening entitled Jennifer Killed (1.36 mins). Now, this is okay. It's just a totally irrelevant character, who has no relation or context to the finished movie at all - other than just being a random victim to start the ball rolling - getting flamboyantly slaughtered. No production detail is given, no explanation as to its creation and subsequent deletion. But it is quite juicy, though!

    And now we get the worst piece of bonus material that I've ever seen on a disc. Well, that probably isn't true, but it sure feels like it. From Location: Joel Silver Reveals House Of Wax (1.29 mins) is simply the man, himself, sat on the set of the forthcoming Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang, overly patronising us in a terribly fake fun manner about the modus operandi of Dark Castle, whilst a stunt car roars around him. “Making movies ...” he pathetically whimpers with a simpleton's smirk (or something like it - but who cares?) It's just a pity that when the car eventually smashes into him, it isn't for real.

    Beyond House Of Wax's original theatrical trailer (2.18 mins) we get a trailer for Batman Begins. Hurray!!!! A bit of class, at last. But, oh no, it's got a wildly inappropriate rock track pasted cruelly over it. Is nothing sacred?

    Folks, I've got to be honest - these extras are a complete and utter waste of time and disc space. I've had more fun having a tooth pulled. This stuff is made by idiots, for idiots. Don't give them the satisfaction. Just stick to the movie. It's dumb-as-hell but it deserved far better.
    House Of Wax Extras


    For user information we use Bitrate 1.4 to scan the disk for the video bitrate, which also calculates the average bitrate. Below is a graph illustrating the bitrate of the disk, including the average bitrate reading. This disk averaged at 5.72 Mbps.
    Suggested retail price when reviewed: £13.38

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