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House of Wax

The Moviegoer

By Stephen O. Saxe

With the advent of three-dimensional films, the motion picture industry has made giant strides. Such great strides, in fact, that it is now right back where it started fifty years ago.

House of Wax may have three dimensions; the plot has one, at best. It used to be known as The Murder in the Waxwork Museum or something close to that, when it was a flattie. If you've seen The Phantom of the Opera or the Hunchback of Notre Dame you have the general outline already. The only thing the latter pictures have that House of Wax doesn't is scenes of people jumping, falling, or being pushed from high places. Hollywood has missed a trick.

Some interesting things show up in the course of the film. A studio set of a room, for instance, appears a lot larger than the same set in one of the old-fashioned movies. The new technique, in effect, reveals that movie sets are large than life size in order to facilitate camera movement. This becomes obvious when you see a shot of a person walking up a stairway that is probably ten feet wide.

House of Wax also proves that the Warner technique is not yet perfected. Even with the polaroid glasses nestled snugly against your eyes, you will still occasionally see a double image. The resulting flutter is tiresome to the eyes, and only a ten-minute intermission between reels makes the rest of the film bearable.

In my opinion (which Hollywood is no doubt eager to bear) after the novelty of depth perception is enjoyed the first time, 3-D films are going to be judged on the same basis as any other films that is, "is it any good?" and not, "is it three dimensional?"

In the meantime, the movie-makers think that they have licked the problem of falling attendance due to television. Unfortunately for them, I am at present working in my subterranean workshop on a means of achieving three-dimensional television.

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