On Halloween night, as I washed dishes while waiting for trick-or-treaters, the television in my kitchen showed Vincent Price up to no good. I would expect no less from him.
People my age will remember Price, with a long and baleful face, doing his diabolical worst in movies like “Tales of Terror” and “The Haunted Palace” and “The Masque of the Red Death.”
Some of these movies played at the Dixie Theater, a sticky-floored cinema of my youth where a quarter got you admission for a double-feature and another quarter got you popcorn and a Coke.
This was the sort of place where Price could ring the cash register.
A native Missourian, born in St. Louis before heading off to study history at Yale University and the University of London, Price picked up an itch for acting. He found his niche in using a debonair bearing to project evil onscreen.
On this spooky night, Turner Classic Movies featured his 1953 movie, “House of Wax.” He played Professor Henry Jarrod, a sort of Rodin of wax sculpture.
Eccentric, true, but the guy had standards. Jarrod’s business partner at the wax museum got impatient over finances and hectored the artist to go for a more salacious type of tableau. Apparently, Joan of Arc didn’t appeal to the wax-loving masses.
The Price character stuck to his vision of beauty. So his partner torched the place for insurance money. Passersby reported Yankee Candle scents.
To abbreviate this, just know that Jarrod, thought to be dead, turns up very much alive and resumes his art with a new dedication, a bent for revenge and a criminal technique in casting his sculptures.
Not for this reason, since “House of Wax” came out years before my birth, but I had a youthful fascination with wax museums. It goes without saying that we didn’t have one in New Madrid County. My exposure to the world, which is to say my library card, made me aware of their existence.
And I knew that life-like figures, if given the right dimensions and proper wardrobes, put a person practically in the presence of John Wilkes Booth creeping up on a theater-going Abraham Lincoln.
This stood as an analog version of what now has emerged as a digital method of resurrection. A story last week told of an increasing number of concert experiences taking place with holograms.
In truth, my hologram knowledge does not run deep. I have seen one form as a mark of authenticity on licensed college merchandise. And I remember the one in the original “Star Wars” with the jittery image of Princess Leia appealing for help from Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Only the latter of those is a nerdy memory.
Now, with technology having drawn people from their graves, we can see the likes of Roy Orbison, Buddy Holly, Tupac Shakur and Whitney Houston playing the hits without access to, you know, a body with an internal temperature of 98.6.
To go with this, a debate has been sparked about the artistic ethics of pixels fooling the eye and why humans would even find this appealing. The peddlers of these holograms see the ethics of commerce.
It speaks volumes to this thinking that “House of Wax” gets credit as the first major studio color application of 3-D movie technology. Years before man went to the moon, this method arose to make it seem like a wax Jack the Ripper stood right beside you.
Technology forever evolves, and holograms might one day be as common as smartphones, everyone getting a posthumous touch-up as an expression of personal remembrance.
The pixels, no doubt, will hold up better during hot Missouri summers.