Director – Michael Curtiz (The Hangman, Mystery of the Wax Museum)
Starring – Lionel Atwill (Captain Blood, Man Made Monster), Fay Wray (King Kong, The Vampire Bat), and Lee Tracy (Bombshell!, Dinner at Eight)
Release Date – 1932
Rating – 4/5
Blu Release – 3.5/5
It was almost a decade ago that I first watched Mystery of the Wax Museum. I had already seen both remakes when I was younger but I had no idea that House of Wax starring the iconic Vincent Price was a remake. One Halloween season I watched Mystery for the first time and fell in love with it. It was airing on cable and it blew my mind. Not only did it reveal that House of Wax was a remake but it showed that Fay Wray was in other genre titles.
Sometime back Warner Bros. announced a blu release of Doctor X which is one I had never seen before. It only sparked my interest when I saw that it was director by Michael Curtiz who helmed Mystery of the Wax Museum and starred Fay Wray. I requested a review copy and as soon as it arrived I tossed it in.
**Spoiler Alert** The film follows a string of murders where young women were murdered with medical precision and then parts of the body of cannibalized. The police suspect that it is someone from the local college. Dr. Xavier (Atwill) is the president of the school and works with the police to catch the killer. He puts together a test to find out who the Moon Killer really is but it’s almost to late to stop them before he murders again. **Spoiler Alert**
I can’t express how excited I was to finally dig into this one. You have no idea how much of a fan I am of the original Mystery of the Wax Museum. The first viewing lead to the way to at least a dozen times over the years. With that being said, Doctor X is a far superior film. This Jack the Ripper meets sci-fi terror is absolutely enthralling and the cast is amazing.
The acting in this one is so fun. You get the classical early era performances from Atwill, Wray, and company while Lee Tracy brings seriously underrated comedy bit. I loved the contrasting casting and the characters they brought to life. I really enjoyed the energy as well. Especially from Tracy.
The story for this one is a bit of a Jack the Ripper based story meets science run amok. We get a killer who is good with a scalpel and a taste for human flesh. This is how most of the story is until the last 15 or so minutes then you get a great sci-fi based horror story that you will not see coming. I did not expect the film to end that way but I’m so glad to see a film as old as this one is take chances like they did. I know the film is a pre-code film but you have to consider the mindset of society of that time.
Finally, the film has some great make-up effects at the end of the film that really surprised me but if you are looking for the red stuff you will be very disappointed. Overall, Doctor X is a must see for genre fans especially if you are a fan of early horror films. The casting is perfect and the story is wild. This blu from WB is absolutely gorgeous. Probably my favorite release of theirs to date. I highly recommend it.
Black and White Version
Monsters and Mayhem: The Horror Films of Michael Curitz
UCLA Before and After Restoration Reel