Wax Mask (1997)

Comments Off on Wax Mask (1997) 13 October 2017

wax mask

Studio: One 7 Movies

Theatrical Release: April 4, 1997 (Italy)

Blu Ray Release: January 31, 2017

Director: Sergio Stivaletti

Not Rated

Review by James Klein

At the time of his untimely death in 1996, director Lucio Fulci (Manhattan Baby, Cat in the Brain) was in pre-production on this modern take on Mystery of the Wax Museum. Having co-wrote the story with Dario Argento (The Stendhal Syndrome) Fulci’s special effects artist Stivaletti took over the directing reigns and was able to complete the last film that Fulci ever worked on. 

Set in the early 1990’s, a young child witnesses her parents brutally murdered by a black cloaked masked figure who ripped out the hearts of her parents with a metal looking claw-hand. The child grows to be the super hot Romina Condello (To the Wonder) who is now a costume designer and gets work at the local wax museum run by the deranged Boris Volkoff (Robert Hossein from Bolero) who has his own hidden laboratory at the museum. This is where he is conducting strange experiments (“I am searching perfection”) on the many locals of Rome. With the help of this masked black cloaked figure whose injecting his victim’s with this paralyzing formula, Volkoff starts to create his own wax figures made out of actual humans, some even still alive. Volkoff takes a liking to the gorgeous Condello and it’s quickly discovered that there is a link to her parents death and Volkoff. 

Wax Mask is a mixed bag as there are moments of actual suspense and decent gore such as the opening sequence with a man being dared to stay in the museum for one night where he dies from fear and the actual melting of one of the characters, utilizing some pretty decent make up effects thanks to it’s director who knows a thing or two about gruesome, practical effects since he worked on Demons and Dellamorte Dellamore. Fans of good old Italian splatter may find some enjoyment out of Wax Mask but will also find frustration given some of the awful and dated CGI effects used in the movie. These effects look so bad, it pulled me out of the movie and made me think of what this film could have been if made under Fulci’s direction in say 1986. 

Despite the bad effects, the actual performances and story are not very good. Most of the actors come off phony, trying too hard, as if acting on stage and not on film. The script seems to meander and lacks focus, coming up with a twist conclusion that I guess works but I found a little predictable and uninspiring. 

I have been judgmental in the past of One 7 Movies releases. They don’t have the best reputation and while this blu ray release may be better looking than some of their DVD releases, the picture still lacks focus and isn’t as sharp as I think it could be. The colors are great though and very vibrant. There is also an option to watch the film in both 5.1 and 2.0 in English or Italian. However, the Italian track which is what I would have preferred to view the film doesn’t have English subtitles thus leaving the viewer stuck with a poorly dubbed version. 

The special features are very limited with just two featurettes from 1996 as the cast and crew were making the film, again with no subtitles. There is no trailer and given the history behind the film with this being Fulci and Argento’s only collaboration, I would have loved a more up to date featurette with Argento and Stivaletti discussing the making of the film. 

While I don’t recommend Wax Mask to the casual viewer, I do recommend it to any fans of Fulci, Argento and Stivaletti as there are a few decent moments of greatness but it’s more for completists only. 

Movie and Blu Ray Rating: ★★½☆☆ 


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