The last in my 1980’s horror series, the 1988 Anthony Hickox film Waxwork embodies eighties horror to a tee. When an odd and eccentric waxwork owner (David Warner) approaches a couple of college students, China (Michelle Johnson) and Sarah (Deborah Forman), and invites them to take part in a private showing at his wax museum, the girls and their friends are in for more than they bargained for. The ladies invite their boyfriends, Mark (Zach Galligan) and Tony (Dana Ashbrook) along for the evening. Immediately upon arrival things get weird as the very small, very foreign Hans (Mihaly ‘Michu’ Mesza) ushers the group in to the waxwork museum. Very quickly two of the crew are sucked in to scenes in the Waxwork, China is taken in to a castle scene which inhabits a vampire count and his bevy of vampire beauties, and Tony finds himself in a wooded scene with a werewolf played by John Rhys-Davies. Both of them succumb to their fates in the Waxwork, trapped in their respective realities. Sarah comes close to being sucked in as well, but wen Mark gets creeped out and decides to leave, the remaining two friends take off. Mark goes the cops but gets little help from them after he takes Inspector Roberts (Charles McCaughan) to the waxwork and the owner turns things around on the kids. From this point on, Mark and Sarah take things into their own hands. Their investigation as to what happened to their friends and who the waxwork owner really is draws both characters in to their own waxwork experiences with the a very hairy Marquis de Sade, zombies and others. All of this culminates in an ending so rife with so many creatures and frightening characters that it reaches Cabin in the Woods proportions.
This film has some familiar eighties faces. Zach Galligan took part not only in Waxwork and Waxwork II, but the Gremlins franchise and many other features. We know Deborah Foreman from one of the greatest eighties movies ever made, Valley Girl. David Warner has been in, well, just about everything. My favorite though is Mihaly ‘Michu’ Meszaros, he is the miniature man who opens the door to the fray of college kids at the beginning of the film, but he is the best known as the man who donned the ALF costume for the TV show of the same name. Waxwork has it’s share of great classic eighties horror gags in the film, a scene in the beginning when the werewolf tears one of his victims in half, and the scene in which China finds the vampire hunter in the basement of the count’s castle chained up with most of his leg missing to the bone, when the mummy crushes one of his victim’s heads. Of course I can’t forget the renegade hand as depicted in the Evil Dead franchise. These and many others throughout the film are fun effects even for now, everyone is much too reliant on CGI and the like for things of this nature these days and it really takes away from the mood and authenticity of the film.
It’s hard to imagine now, but this film scared the bejesus out of me when I was younger. I remember being a kid in the eighties and early nineties at my grandma’s house being left to my own devices with my younger brother and watching all kinds of flicks my parents never would have allowed us to see in a million years. This is where I was introduced to Freddy Krueger in the first scariest movie I ever saw, Dreamcatcher and Bruce Campbell’s Maniac Cop, along with as many high school scream movies you can imagine. Waxwork was one of these films. The nostalgia this film evokes is great, but Waxwork really is a fun movie to watch and the final scenes that include a battle with historical, fictional and fantastical characters is an experience that can’t be matched.
What evil Waxwork figure is your favorite and why? Share in the comments!
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