INTO: Paris Hilton’s Death Scene in House of Wax

Published October 31, 2019

In order to live a happy life there are a few things I tend to avoid: hot coffee, the L train on weekends, Instagram influencers, and above all scary movies. I hate horror so much so that I have yet to watch The Exorcist or IT, but sometimes life isn’t fair, and one day I was forced to watch The Ring, and it nearly destroyed me. About the only thing that will get me to watch horror is Paris Hilton

In 2005, director Jaume Collet-Serra (The Shallows, Orphan, The Commuter) decided to revive House of Wax, the 1953 horror film starring Vincent Price. For his version, Collet-Serra enlisted a group of hot, young actors to be slashed and waxed. The cast included, among others, Chad Michael Murray, Elisha Cuthbert, Jared Padalecki, and Hilton. The director’s decision to include the world’s most famous-for-not-being-famous person in a horror film was a surprise twist. But her clout as Hollywood’s it party girl served the film well. House of Wax earned  $70 million worldwide, thanks, in part, to people literally lining up to see Hilton die. And I was one of them. 

I’m no film critic, but I do know a thing or two about outlandish and campy performances, and Hilton’s portrayal of Paige Edwards, a pretty girl about to get killed is, for lack of a better word: iconic. Hilton’s death comes around the 1 hour and 17 second mark of the film, the heiress of the world—and her tangled extensions—is trying to escape her killer (played by Brian Van Holt) as she cries and hides from her inevitable death. Suddenly Van Holt, enraged by his own psychosis, throws a pole, with surprisingly great aim, and pokes a hole through Hilton’s head. This scene makes up for the otherwise bland film, but what makes Hilton’s death scene particularly meta, if you may, is the last few seconds. The killer approaches his victim, who is lying on the floor with a pole in her head. He pulls out a vintage video recorder, gets close to Hilton’s bloody face, and records himself as he pulls the pole out of her head. I’d stay and explain the semantics of this scene, but it’s not necessary. If you know, you know.