A group of young folk on their way to the “biggest college football game of the year” (you would do an overnight trip for THAT?) take an unfortunate detour. In groups of two, they are lured into a town run by two madmen, where the only other inhabitants are the was-coated effigies of their victims. What follows is the expected gory slaughter, and some of the deaths are gruesomely imaginative. There is, however, no terror. What does it say when practically the most likeable character in a fil… is played by Paris Hilton? It says that you can’t wait for these people to die. Even the more amiable heroine behaves in ways that are colossally stupid even by slasher movie standards. And the twist at the end is so trivial and meaningless, so utterly irrelevant to the plot, that it is the narrative equivalent of bicycles for fish.
The 5.1 soundtrack is pretty spectacular, providing enough fun to keep one entertained between murders. The orchestral music is thunderous (the rock less so, and the one disappointment of the track). The surround effects are impressive and well-placed, right down to the buzzing of an errant fly. The dialogue is clear and undistorted.
No complaints with the picture, either. The colours and contrast are strong, the flesh tones are real (even if Hilton comes across as a wax figure well before being offed), the blacks are deep and there is no grain or edge enhancement. Absolutely spiffing.
Welcome to the most boring variation on a commentary track ever. This is a video deal, with the lead cast members watching footage of scenes being filmed, sipping tea, and kibitzing. This wins my award for laziest, dullest special feature of the year. The two featurettes – “Wax On” about design and “House Built On Wax” about the visual FX – are better, though pretty standard issue. There’s also a gag reel, an alternate opening, the theatrical trailer, and a 90-second introduction to the film by Joel Silver, doing his best William Castle impression. The menu’s main screen, intro, and transition to the film are animated and scored.
The other Dark Castle films with the titles of earlier movies were affectionate tributes to those films. This one has nothing to do with its predecessor, which is just as well, since it’s the weakest offering to date.
Special Features List
- B-Roll and BLoopers Video Cast Commentary
- 2 Making-of Featurettes
- Gag Reel
- Alternate Opening
- “From Location: Joel Silvers Reveals House of Wax”
- Theatrical Trailer