It is one of the supreme ironies of Hollywood history that what is generally regarded as the best of all 3-D movies was directed by a man with one eye, André De Toth. Following the initial 3-D movie, Bwana Devil (1952), House of Wax dazzled audiences with its sumptuous production values, its grippingly lurid Grand Guignol excesses, its wonderfully witty three-dimensional thrills (Dig those can-can dancers' soaring extensions and the ping-pong ball that streaks right towards the viewer's eye!), and the introduction of Vincent Price's definitive screen persona as a floridly creepy, strangely pitiable horror icon. While reveling in the pulp conventions of a thriller involving bodies stolen from the morgue, a Phantom of the Opera-like disfigured hero-villain, and the "shock" of discovering just how and why those figures in the wax museum look so life-like, De Toth brought an exhilarating visual flair and a surprisingly poignant emotionalism to his project that have only increased in seductive resonance over the last half-century.
Hungarian-born André De Toth (1912-2002; né Sasvrai Farkasfalvi Tothfalusi Toth Endre Anral Mihaly) studied law, became a stage actor, entered the local film industry, and fled his native land at the outbreak of World War II, having established himself as a writer, editor, second unit director, and director. By the early 1950's, De Toth had distinguished himself in Hollywood as a director of tough, hard-boiled westerns and crime dramas (Passport to Suez; Slattery's Hurricane; Ramrod with then wife, Veronica Lake; Man in the Saddl;, Springfield Rifle).