Waxworks (Das Wachsfignrenkabinett) was the final film Paul Leni directed in Germany before striking out for Hollywood and making such classic works of genre filmmaking as 'The Cat and the Canary', 'The Man Who Laughs', and 'The Last Warning'. Its sophisticated melding of genres was in fact what inspired Universal's Carl Laemmle to invite Leni to come to Hollywood in the first place, as Laemmle was hoping to capitalise on the emerging comedy-horror craze of the 1920's. Yet 'Waxworks' is, at heart, a pure example of German expressionism. Its stylised sets (designed by Leni), fantastical costumes, chiaroscuro lighting, and startlingly bold performances are paragons of the cinematic movement, and contribute heavily to the film's lasting appeal. The three separate episodes of 'Waxworks' are united by the character of a young poet (William Dieterle), who is hired by the owner of a wax museum to create backstories for a trio of the museum's figures: Caliph Harun al-Rashid (Emil Jannings), Ivan the Terrible (Conrad Veidt), and Jack the Ripper (Werner Krauss). The stories are depicted in succession, the poet casting himself - as well as the daughter of the wax museum's owner - at the centre of each tale. Though the poet and the daughter play different characters in the corresponding plots, they are always lovers whose relationship is threatened by the personages of the wax figures.
English DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0, German DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0, Silent
Full Screen 1.33:1 / 4:3
B & W
Option of two newly created scores, by composer Richard Siedhoff; and Ensemble Musikfabrik Feature length audio commentary with Australian film and arts critic Adrian Martin
In search of the original version of Paul Leni's 'Das Wachsfgureiikabinett': An interview with Julia Wallmuller (Deutsche Kinemathek) based on her presentation after the premiere of the restored film at 'II Cinema Ritrovato' festival in Bologna 2020
Kim Newman on 'Waxworks': An in-depth, on-camera interview with journalist, film critic, and fiction writer Kim Newman about the legacy of 'Waxworks'
Paul Leni's 'Rebus-Film Nr. 1': Originally screened in 1920's German cinemas as a featurette accompanying the main film