starring: Zach Galligan, Deborah Foreman, David Warner, Patrick Macnee, John Rhys Davies
directed by: Anthony Hickox
A group of college kids are invited to a private viewing at a newly opened Waxworks. Some of the kids disappear and it becomes evident that the wax exhibits themselves are portals to the afterlife…
An enjoyable horror movie with lashings of both gore and comedy. The premise is very interesting. Waxwork (1988) isn’t your standard ‘wax-mannequins-coming-alive-in-the-middle-of-the-night’ tripe.
Zach Galligan (the lead from “Gremlins (1984)) and Deborah Foreman are pretty competent but it’s the bad guys who really carry this film. A lurch-type butler and a diminutive midget with a squeaky voice are among the best in this category. Furthermore, David Warner is brilliantly cast as the fiendish yet charming waxwork owner.
I have to re-iterate that this film is quite gory; the scenes in the vampire basement are certainly some of the bloodiest scenes in 80s horror but the parody aspect of the film means that this isn’t off-putting – the viewer knows this is all just one big game of fun. That’s also one of the key themes in Hickox’s screenplay – this idea that the line between reality and fiction can be so easily – and quite literally in this instance – passed. Despite the undertones of comedy and satire, there are some quite disturbing scenes – although I wouldn’t go as far as to say the film is very frightening in any way – notably the shots of the marquis de sade whipping our virgin lead into sweaty fits of sexual pleasure. It’s also cool that the victims are despatched in accordance with their own personality traits; for example, the slut is appropriately murdered by a seductive vampire (being the victim of her own lust) whilst a policeman is destroyed by a mummy’s curse brought about by an over-curious egyptologist.
When it comes down to it, Waxwork (1988) is essentially all about referencing earlier horror classics – in particular, John Rhys Davies stands out in the homage to the wolfman and there is a great tribute to Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead (1969)” – a sequence filmed, fittingly, in black and white. The scripting alo reflects the genre self-referencing technique which would become so much more polished in Wes Craven’s Scream (1996) – Warner’s character mutters “they will make movies about anything these days”. The closing credits involve an explicit tribute to the horror directors of the time – Romero, Carpenter, Argento, Landis etc.
This is a film primarily aimed at horror buffs – and it works. It’s no classic but it’s quirky bad guys, top-notch gore effects and many references to the movies which have defined the genre mean it’s a very respectable movie – worth catching it on tv if you can, even if you aren’t a horror fan.
hotdog rating: 7/10.