Terror in the Wax Museum (1973)


USA. 1973.


Director – George Fenady, Screenplay – Jameson Brewer, Story/Producer – Andrew Fenady, Photography – William Jurgensen, Music – George Duning, Production Design – Stan Jolley. Production Company – Bing Crosby Productions/Fenady Associates


Nicole Shelby (Meg Collins), Ray Milland (Harry Flexner), Elsa Lanchester (Julia Hawthorn), Broderick Crawford (Amos Burns), Shani Wallis (Laurie Mell), John Carradine (Claude Dupree), Steven Marlo (Karkov), Louis Heyward (Tim Fowley), Don Herbert (Jack the Ripper), Patric Knowles (Mr Southcott), Lisa Lu (Madam Yang), Maurice Evans (Inspector Daniels)


Wax museum curator Claude Dupree is murdered by what would appear the Jack the Ripper exhibit in the museum apparently come to life. With the lack of a will, his niece Meg Collins inherits the museum. Her guardian Julia Hawthorn takes control and reopens the museum, exploiting the sensationalism of the murder. However, the killings continue.

Terror in the Wax Museum is a dreary variant on Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933) and one that seems even older than its inspiration. The film was produced in the same year as The Exorcist (1973) and the comparison between the two films shows just what a dull and dated film this is. Indeed, screen Mystery of the Wax Museum today and it still holds up, while Terror in the Wax Museum looks like a poverty row studio film from the 1940s. One can hear the arthritic creaks as both the plot and cast of genre veterans – that includes Ray Milland, John Carradine and Bride of Frankenstein Elsa Lanchester herself – goes through their paces.

Directorially, the film is dull and lacking in any atmosphere. The cobwebbed plotting holds no surprises whatsoever – even the contrived final revelation makes no sense. Terror in the Wax Museum was produced by no less than the production company formed by Bing Crosby – who produced a number of other horror films around this period, most notably the rat epic Willard (1971).

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