(In anticipation of the coolest day of the year, this month-long series will offer one recommended horror flick a day up through Oct. 31.)
HOUSE OF WAX (1953). Far too many 3-D movies have relied on the novelty of the gimmick to cover up what would otherwise be a completely disposable motion picture, but what's unique about this box office smash (it was one of 1953’s top 10 grossers) — and the reason it has endured as one of the most popular of all older films originally shot in this format — is that on its own two-dimensional terms, it's a heckuva lot of fun. Vincent Price came into his own as a horror icon, portraying a sculptor whose latest creations seem remarkably lifelike, and there's an early appearance by Charles Bronson (still billed as Charles Buchinsky) as his mute assistant. For the record, the DVD released a few years ago by Warner Bros. doesn’t include the 3-D version (too bad; love that paddleball man!), but it does contain the first screen telling of this story: 1933's Mystery of the Wax Museum, directed by Casablanca's Michael Curtiz and starring King Kong scream queen Fay Wray. And you really don’t need me to tell you to stay away from the atrocious 2005 version featuring Paris Hilton, do you? Didn’t think so.