Criminals Hall Of Fame Wax Museum
Niagara Falls, Ontario
"This is not a haunted house. These monsters are real!"
The slogan of the Criminals Hall of Fame Wax Museum does a good job of expanding its range of inductees: not only well-known Hollywood-featured killers, but gore-spattered human ghouls as well.
Certainly one of the biggest shocks in this Canadian museum is that none of its criminals are from Canada. We know that people are supposed to be nicer north of the border, but really?
Owner Don Lombardz admitted that the lack of local thugs can sometimes be a disappointment for Frozen North crime fans, but told us that other countries (especially the U.S.) just have more bankable human monsters.
In fact, in 1999 someone stole Hitler. "He was where the killer clown is now," said Don, referring to the spot currently occupied by John Wayne Gacy. "It was a summer night, lots of people in the museum, and when we closed up Hitler was just gone. We never found out who did it, never got him back."
The museum quickly acquired a replacement Hitler (he's a must-have for any museum of sociopaths) and the new Fuhrer is safely behind glass, as now are all the displays, discouraging visitors from becoming lawbreakers themselves.
Al Capone stands in the lobby with his blood-splattered baseball bat, offering a fairly obvious clue of what's to come. Once inside you're channeled though narrow black corridors, the familiar one-way flow of dimly-lit spookhouses to keep the crowds moving. The museum does a good job of varying the criminal element -- Wild West outlaws, 1930s gangsters, modern mass-murderers -- while stressing the ghastly whenever possible.
Creative economy can be seen in the Jack the Ripper and Valentine's Day Massacre dioramas, where the prostrate victims appear to have heads made of cloth sacks with painted-on faces. Abraham Lincoln (the soon-to-be casualty of criminal John Wilkes Booth) looks like a repurposed Bluebeard, and for some reason his hands have turned purple. With fear?
The most memorable criminals in the museum are those whose crimes merit the most gore. Countess Bathory of Transylvania soaks in her bathtub of blood; cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer visits his fridge for a late night snack. Less-famous Hall-of-Famers such as Herman Webster Mudgett and Richard "The Iceman" Kuklinski are showcased by boosting their quota of human meat. Mudgett has the glass in front of his wax figure splattered with strings of blood like a camera lens in a POV horror movie.
The final diorama in the museum, "The Feast," features slasher film superstars sitting at a table, dining on their victims' feet and eyeballs (In the dim light, Leatherface looks surprisingly like Richard Nixon). Then it's on to a photo-op electric chair that buzzes when you sit in it, and out to the gift shop where you can buy coffee mugs with brass knuckles for handles.
Owner Don continues to search for a Canadian to add to his museum, and told us that he's currently favoring Robert Pickton, "The Pig Farmer," who killed dozens of prostitutes, fed them to his pigs, and also ground them up and sold them as pork to unsuspecting customers.
"Something like that I could put in here," said Don, probably envisioning a wax tableau of pigs eating from a trough of dismembered arms and heads. "That's what I'm looking for. Something like that."