I think this is Film #5 for Joel Silver and Robert Zemekis's Dark Castle Entertainment, dedicated to bringing back the spirit of the late William Castle schlock-ploitation films of the 50's (yeah, I coined that term...represent!). So far I've been so-so with the last three. I enjoyed HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL, thought 13 GHOSTS was okay...GHOST SHIP? Well, besides the insane beginning with the decapitated boat party, the rest was complete garbage.
Which brings me to the question that has probably haunted Halle Berry ever since it was released. "GOTHIKA? What the HELL were you thinking?"
(Quick aside: between the above-mentioned piece of the crap and the equally horrendous choices of DIE ANOTHER DAY and CATWOMAN, I can only assume that Ms. Berry has had what brain she might has possessed removed by the aliens who control Hollywood and replaced with a small paper bag of feathers)
So you can imagine my expectations going into HOUSE OF WAX, starring a bunch of kids from the WB and none other than Miss 15 minutes herself, Paris Hilton. "Low" would be an understatement. Well, I was pleasantly surprised. No, not by the acting prowess of Miss Hilton, whose only smart move in the film was to show her breasts undulate while she ran in order to distract viewers from seeing the simultaneously wooden and vapid expression on her face (see right) . What surprised me was that, unlike other recent horror movies that started great only to crash and burn spectacularly at the end (I'm talking to you, HAUTE TENSION), HOUSE OF WAX actually starts off horrible and winds up having a slam-bang ending that was fun if still ridiculous and impossible. Roger Ebert commented in his review upon the movie's release that the ending had to be dreamed up by Zemekis, and I agree. The first three quarters are your standard teen fare - generic WB/UPN kids go into the woods on their way to a football game, piss off a crazy dude in a truck, find some creepy guy and tons of roadkill, and then decide to SPLIT UP when one of the guy's car breaks down. The main dude and his girlfriend seek assistance in the creepy Scooby Doo town where yes, there is an actual house made of wax!
Hilarity and hijinks ensue - Guy #1 gets his Achilles heel snipped and is subsequently turned into wax. Girl #1 (our heroine) gets kidnapped, her lips crazy-glued together, her fingertip cut off (that was the worst part of the movie for me), beat to crap, and still manages to kick ass later.
I won't mention what happens to the rest of the crew, or the mysterious secrets that haunt the town of Ambrose, but suffice to say that you will cheer when Paris gets her just desserts, and although Zemekis definitely had a hand in the film's climax (which is ultra-cool), have no fear: some lame-ass producer still put in an obligatory "twist ending" that absolutely does nothing for the story and reminds you to kill M. Night Shyamalan for starting this whole craze off again.