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HOUSE OF WAX

The 411 on the Wax
Key to creating the ambience of the chillingly picturesque town of Ambrose was populating the expansive set with a host of wax "citizens.” Wax body supervisor Jason Baird, a prosthetics and special effects makeup artist whose credits include The Matrix Reloaded, The Matrix Revolutions and Star Wars: Episode II, led a team of 35 artists dedicated solely to the design and creation of the film's wax figures.

Working twelve hour days for seven months, Baird's team of sculptors, mold makers, painters and hair technicians created over 100 intricately detailed wax figures for the film, including the party guests at Trudy's House of Wax; the parishioners, organist and priest gathered for a funeral at the church; and an audience and ushers in permanent attendance at the local movie theater, where the 1962 thriller What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? plays on a continuous loop. (A clever nod to the themes of intense sibling rivalry that underscore House of Wax.)

The figures that represent Bo and Vincent's human victims who have been slayed, waxed and displayed throughout the town came to be known by the crew as "dead wax people.” These figures were made from fiberglass and translucent silicon molds. A handful of effects figures were also created for scenes requiring their breaking or burning. Following extensive anatomical research, Baird's crew fashioned molds of bones from fake skeletons and placed them beneath the silicon skin to achieve a realistic representation of decaying bodies sheathed inside wax forms.

Four "purely wax” figures were created for the film to represent the artistry of Ambrose's resident wax virtuoso, Trudy Sinclair, who would have crafted these lifelike sculptures in the traditional (i.e. non-deadly) manner for display in the House of Wax. Trudy's eternal houseguests are two women dressed in flapper-era garments and headdresses, one sitting in a black beaded gown and the other in a shimmering taupe dress; a seated gentleman smoking a cigar; and a maid cleaning the kitchen. These figures required vigilant care, as they were extremely sensitive to changes in temperature, and were prone to sagging and cracking. 

All of the figures used in the film are reproductions of actual living people. Baird conducted casting sessions with director Jaume Collet-Serra to pose and select extras with the right look for each figure. Casts were then taken of their heads, hands and bodies, from which fiberglass molds and silicon casts were made. The models representing the "dead wax people” sitting in the church and the packed house of the movie theater were posed and cast while seated in the actual pews and theater seats from those sets, to ensure an exact fit when the final figures were positioned for filming. 

After the rough figures were sculpted to smooth perfection, painters and hair technicians meticulously applied the finishing touches, including makeup, wigs and facial hair. From body casting to clothing the finished "person,” the process took approximately three or four weeks to complete each individual figure. "It was a huge job,” Baird says. "I'm so proud of the quality of the work we did in such a short amount of time. It's tough to pick a favorite wax character, but one of mine is the little old lady in the church wearing a hat and carrying a rosary. She just looks so real!” (She also loses an arm to Carly in a pivotal scene.)  "I was very impressed with the terrific work that Jason and his team did,” Joel Silver says. "Every time they would show me new figures, I asked them to make me even more.”

To create additional "dead wax people” for crowd scenes in the church and movie theater, Baird outfitted background actors with silicon masks complete with fake eyes, wigs and color-matched hand coverings, and then seated them among the wax figures. 

Baird's staff also sculpted figures of the main character

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