This very standard but serviceable film features a lot of old actors going over a lot of old ground.
John Carradine is killed off early, seemingly by one of his creations, as Claude Dupree, the owner of a London House of Horrors wax museum who is contemplating selling out to American showman Amos Burns (Broderick Crawford).
His untimely death brings his lovely niece Margaret Collins (Nicole Shelby) onto the scene to claim her inheritance and, naturally, to be romanced and protected by the young Scotland Yard Sergeant (Mark Edwards) assigned to the case.
Newcomers Shelby and Edwards, however, become lost among what is arguably the largest assortment of old-time stars and character actors ever assembled for a cheap horror film.
Elsa Lanchester steals every scene as Miss Collins’ idiosyncratic guardian and financial advisor,
Julia Hawthorn, while the burden of carrying the plot of this pile of old cliches rests heavily on Ray Milland, as the snobbish sculptor and manager of the wax museum, Harry Flexner.
When Milland is curt and abrupt and snaps his lines, we are not sure whether he is merely being in character, whether as an actor he is just a little disgusted with the shoddiness of it all, or whether he is merely tired of Elsa Lanchester stepping on his lines.
It is revealed in the end – to no one’s surprise – that the wax figures are not coming to life, but that the culprit impersonating them has been doing so in order to search the museum at night for hidden gold.
Jameson Brewer’s derivative screenplay, based on a story by producer Andrew Fenady, also features such old staples as a deformed hunchback and a bubbling hot vat of wax into which our heroine nearly falls.
Not that it matters much, for the fun here is strictly in seeing how many old faces you can spot.
Sergeant Michael Hawks
Jack the Ripper – Wax Figure
Lizzie Borden – Wax Figure
Mrs Borden – Wax Figure
Bluebeard – Wax Figure
Girl in Red – Wax Figure
Lucretia Borgia – Wax Figure
Attila the Hun – Wax Figure
Marie Antoinette – Wax Figure
Ivan the Terrible – Wax Figure
Willie Grossman – Wax Figure
Constable Henry Bolt – Wax Figure
Flower Woman – Wax Figure