Rosemary’s Baby, House of Wax added to National Film Registry

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Since the passing of the National Film Preservation Act of 1988, the Library of Congres annually inducts 25 films into the National Film Registry in efforts to showcase “the range and diversity of American film heritage to increase awareness for its preservation.” This year, alongside Rio Bravo, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and The Gang’s All Here, librarian of congress James H. Billington has announced both Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby and Vincent Price-starrer House of Wax (1953) will be added as well.

Based on the book by Ira Levin, produced by William Castle and starring Mia Farrow in an iconic role, Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby is of course an enduring classic. Farrow plays expectant mother Rosemary, who begins to suspect her husband and neighbors are involved in a satanic plot against her and her child. The film is a masterpiece of paranoia, dark humor and absurd horror. It’s little surprise it should be honored and preserved in the registry, and is the second Polanski film to be selected following Chinatown.

Directed by André de Toth, House of Wax is considered the first American color 3-D feature and stars macabre master and national treasure, Vincent Price. House of Wax was a massive hit in its year of release, projected in stereoscopic 3-D and later re-released in 1971 in StereoVision. The film is a remake of 1933’s Mystery of the Wax Museum and falls in a long line of wax museum terror tales including a segment of 1924 silent Waxworks, 1988’s Waxwork and 1969’s Nightmare in Wax. House of Wax was “remade” in 2005, though that film hews closer to David Schmoeller’s Tourist Trap.

Vincent Price appears in at least three other titles currently found in the National Film Registry, including Roger Corman’s Edgar Allan Poe-based classic House of Usher and Michael Jackson’s Thriller. The actor’s voice is heard in 1951’s Notes on the Port of St. Francis. Rosemary’s Baby and House of Wax join other beloved horrors like Alien, Bride of Frankenstein, Eraserhead, The Exorcist, Freaks, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Jaws, King Kong, Night of the Living Dead, Psycho, The Silence of the Lambs and The Thing from Another World. 

For more on the National Film Registry, visit the Library of Congress.

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