The Wax Mask (1997) Sergio Stivaletti

The Wax Mask (1997)
aka M.D.C. - Maschera di cera
aka Gaston Leroux's The Wax Mask
Genre: Horror
Country: Italy | France | Director: Sergio Stivaletti
Language: English | Subtitles: None
Aspect ratio: Widescreen 1.85:1 | Length: 98mn
Bdrip H264 Mkv - 1920x1080 - 23.976fps - 1.87gb

Paris, 1900: a couple are horribly murdered by a masked man with a metal claw who rips their hearts out. The sole survivor and witness to the massacre is a young girl. Twelve years later in Rome a new wax museum is opened, whose main attractions are lifelike recreations of gruesome murder scenes. A young man bets that he will spend the night in the museum but is found dead the morning after. Soon, people start disappearing from the streets of Rome and the wax museum halls begin filling with new figures... 

Originally intended by Dario Argento as a Comeback for colleague (though not friend) Lucio Fulci. Unfortunately, only a few weeks before filming was about to begin, Fulci died and on short notice, the directing job was handed over to special effects expert Sergio Stivaletti. 

Written by Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci, two masters who were more known to be at odds than to collaborate. Director of photography, special effects and directing all by Sergio Stivaletti. Dedicated to Lucio Fulci, the Italian horror master.

The film opens with a spectacular moving camera shot, and blood-spattered bodies strewn about. This sets quite a tone, and it's any wonder this film is not better known. Followed by a shot of black-gloved hands, a staple of Argento's work.

The men's hairstyles seem to be quite odd... what I will call the Italian mullet. One of these mullet men named Alex (Umberto Balli) looks like the cross between Bill Maher and Julian Sands. The woman who plays Sonia Lafont (Romina Mondello), though, is not only stylish, but incredibly beautiful in an exotic but innocent way. And somehow they got away with showing a preteen girl topless, which may be okay in Italy, but seems strange not being cut out when dubbed for American audiences.

Obviously, some of the ground here has been covered in other wax museum films -- notably "House of Wax" with Vincent Price, where they seem to have got much inspiration. But there are new surprises, and an excess of gore -- including a robotic hand that rips a heart straight from a chest! Add in some"Crawlspace"-esquire voyeurism, and voila! The film seems to drag on a bit longer than necessary, which is more a pacing issue than anything. That aside, it is a good addition to the modern Italian horror film, with Sergio Stivaletti proving himself a capable director.
 The Wax Mask (1997)

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