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Today in History (1953): 'House of Wax,' the first color 3D film, premieres

This classic Vincent Price-starrer turns 61 today!

Movie poster via Wrong Side of the Art*

Although 3D movies may seem like a recent technological breakthrough, it turned out that it has already been in development since the late 1890s. After several tests by various film pioneers over the years, in 1922, the very first 3D feature film was finally screened. It was “The Power of Love,” a silent film directed by Nat G. Deverich and Harry L. Fairall, which had both 2D and 3D versions. Unfortunately, the 3D version is already presumed lost while the status of the other remains unknown.

However, it wasn’t until the ‘50s that 3D filmmaking finally reached its “golden era” in the United States, a brief period that lasted only about a year. Beginning in 1952, lesser known but all the same historically significant films such as Arch Oboler’s independent feature “Bwana Devil” and James Mage’s “Triorama” were released. In 1953, the very first 3D color film by a major studio finally premiered: Warner Bros.’ “House of Wax” directed by Andre de Toth. Interestingly, this happened just two days after Columbia Pictures’ “Man in the Dark,” the first black and white 3D feature by a major film outfit, was screened.

Vincent Price in “House of Wax.” Screenshot via Bleeding Dead Film Reviews

“House of Wax” was actually the remake of the 1933 movie “Mystery of the Wax Museum.” It was set in 1890s New York and starred renowned actor Vincent Price in his horror film debut as Professor Henry Jarrod, a deranged but talented wax figure sculptor. Apparently, “House of Wax” was Warner’s response to “Bwana Devil.” “House of Wax” runs for 88 minutes and was shot with $1 million budget.

“House of Wax” ended up being among the biggest hits that year, earning a total of $4.3 million at the box office. Of course, during that time this amount was already considered impressive. Within the decade of its release, “House of Wax” was already recognized as a classic horror film and the best American horror film of the ’50s.

Curious? We’ll leave you with this scene from “House of Wax” taken from its restored version released just last year!

All information in this article were sourced from the Wikipedia pages of House of Wax, 3D film, and Vincent Price, and History.

written by chooolss

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