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Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Waxwork (1988)





Wax Museums are creepy. I take every chance to check them out, but they aren’t for the faint of heart. Really is that real Paris Hilton or a wax dummy? Can you catch something from a wax figure of her? Scary, right? Okay maybe that was a little mean… Nah it wasn’t! Enough of this nonsense let’s talk Waxwork.

Things start off fast with a man being murdered and some things being stolen from his house. Then we are introduced to a bunch of annoying “teenagers” or maybe they are in college. Never quite sure because it doesn’t matter. They get invited to a private showing of a new Wax Museum that shows up in town. Let me ask you a question. If David Warner came up to you on the street and invited you to his creepy house at midnight to see his wax dummies would you go? Well these kids do so they must be in high school. I mean how could they get into college being that dumb?

Let me sort out the rest of the movie. All of the exhibits contain a personal effect of an evil figure from history. The Waxwork Man, David Warner, is using the museum to tempt people into stepping into the displays. If they do that they are transported into that world and become a victim powering that evil figure. If all the exhibits are successfully fueled, then the evil can enter our world and take over. We know this because Mark and Sarah, the two kids smart enough not to get pulled in, chat with Sir Wilfred. Wilfred was Mark’s grandfather’s best friend and it was Mark’s grandfather that was killed earlier in the movie. It is up to them to stop the evil from spreading into our world, which leads to a chaotic and fun finale.

Sure go to his house at midnight... what could go wrong?
As I get older I realize more and more how campy this movie is. Director Anthony Hickox clearly had his tongue planted in cheek on this one. The dialogue of the kids sitting around before the Waxwork is odd. The clothes and mannerisms are more reminiscent of a film noir from the forties than it is an eighties horror movie. There is also this strange character of Lecturer who is briefly in the movie but is the source of a couple gags. Won’t spoil them but much like the young victim characters it is strange. I love the fact that Waxwork feels a bit off, that is probably why it has always been so memorable to me.

When we get to the killings and bad guys the movie really starts to shine. We don’t get one, two, or even three monsters. We get many of them. There is a sequence with a Werewolf, another with a Vampire (damn that kitchen scene is gruesome), there is a mummy, and even some zombies. Along the way we get severed hands, cannibalism, a shredded throat, and much more. Each creature has its own little scene as they collect victims as well as showing up in the big finale where the monsters go head to head with those trying to save the world.

I’ve avoided the one “monster” that everyone always talks about. The Marquis de Sade is one of the exhibits and he gets ahold of Sarah, played by Deborah Foreman. If you aren’t a child of the eighties you might not know who she is. How can I put this best? She was a hottie that more than one teenage boy had a crush on. Strangely I wasn’t one of those. Maybe that is why unlike many I didn’t wear my VHS out rewinding the whipping scene again and again. She was also dating the director during the filming of Waxwork. Maybe he was trying to work some issues out on screen? Who knows? I wasn’t going to mention it, but I catch hell when I ignore stuff so there you go.

I love Waxwork and recommend it to anyone wanting to dip their toes into horror from the eighties that doesn’t involve a crazed killer and a body count. This is a unique and fun movie that has held up very well over the years.


© Copyright 2019 John Shatzer

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