House of Wax

Welcome to the best freak show so far in 2005.

TRASH, I say, PURE TRASH! And I'm not referring just to Paris Hilton. House of Wax, in which she plays a surprisingly stupid, strip-teasing bimbo, is, as the clich? demands, so bad it's good. Although the setup is almost an hour long, but long enough to find out who's too stupid to have a chance to live, the heart of the action at the House of Wax is absurdist horror, replete with demented or dumb sets of twins, a crazed scientist, and a Norman-Bates type holding the secrets of a town long gone to wax.

In a year when the best horror films have been The Amityville Horror and The Ring Two, House of Wax is easily the winner, a meltdown if you will of horror expectations loaded with the usual vacuous young people, false frights, severed body parts, and gratuitous sex, only more of it.

The climactic scene, when everything and everybody take the heat, is worthy of the original (shown in 1953, starring Vincent Price, and in 3D). Meanwhile female and male boobs dominate a laughably entertaining slasher with CGI and old-fashioned makeup so effective that a severed finger looks like it came straight out of a Wendy's chili order.

Notwithstanding the superior technology, what places House of Wax at the head of the horror genre this year is the inane dialogue: As heroine Carly (Elisha Cuthbert) exclaims, "This place is a freak show." Welcome to the best freak show so far in 2005.