Review: Waxwork (1988)

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Director: Anthony Hickox | 97 minutes | comedy, horror | Actors: Zach Galligan, Jennifer Bassey, Joe Baker, Deborah Foreman, Michelle Johnson, David Warner, Eric Brown, Clare Carey, Buckley Norris, Dana Ashbrook, Micah Grant, Mihaly Michu Mesza, Jack David Warner, John Rhys-Davies, Neslon Welch , Miles OKeeffe, Christopher Bradley, Thomas McGreevey, Irene Olga Lopez, Charles McCaughan, Julian Forbes, Edward Ashley, Kendall Conrad, Patrick Macnee, J. Kenneth Campbell, Anthony Hickox, Staffan Ahrenberg, Gabrielle Dufwa, James Hickox, Candi, James Lincoln , Merle Stronck, Joanne Russell, Ann Sophie Noblet, Paul Badger, Eyal Rimmon, Kim Henderson, Hilary English, Nicole Seguin, Carolyn Bray, Henrietta Folkeson, Dan Ireland, Karen Schaffer, Leonard Pollack, Bruce Barlow, Cliff Wallace, Dave Elsey, Gerry Lively, Steven Santamaria

In this film several stories are told that are connected by a comprehensive story, in accordance with a regularly tried and tested approach in the 60s and 70s. What was striking in these films at the time was that there was relatively little bloodshed in them, but that the evoked and retained atmosphere and tension provided the necessary entertainment. In this film, this is repeatedly expanded with the necessary special effects and splatter that characterized many horror films in later years. The comprehensive story here relates to the developments in a wax museum. There are countless signs that something is wrong with this museum: the strange owner, his invitation for a midnight visit, the dwarf with his strange behavior, the lurid scenes on display in the museum…. Of course, Mark and his friends will not let this deter them from strolling through the museum. However, one young person after another ends up in a situation on display, after which these situations suddenly become reality, and this is an unenviable development given the dark nature of the various wax figures.

There are five separate stories in the film. Mark’s friend Tony finds himself in a remote cabin in a dark forest where he must confront a werewolf. He is bitten by the werewolf and is now in danger of undergoing a metamorphosis himself, in which he also has to deal with a hunter who has targeted all werewolves with his silver bullets.

Mark’s girlfriend China ends up in a castle. At first the castle residents adopt a hospitable attitude, but appear to have strange table manners and preferences. The lord of the castle turns out to be Count Dracula who has now provided for China with his followers. China flees to the basement and has to keep the vampires at bay with the help of a prisoner there. A police officer called to the rescue of Mark finds himself in a tomb where a group of archaeologists open the tomb of the mummy Rhaol. The mummy comes back to life and attacks the disruptors of his eternal rest.

Mark’s girlfriend Sarah ends up in the Marquis de Sade’s castle. The Marquis lives up to his reputation by making her the center of a performance in which he gives free rein to his lustful and sadistic practices.
Mark ends up in a cemetery where the dead are raised from their graves. Their plans don’t bode well for Mark when they clearly set their sights on him.

What is quickly noticeable is that in this film a remarkable amount of humor has been incorporated into the various situations and statements, and to such an extent that it becomes clear that this is a horror comedy. However, the humor does not detract from the horror and suspense properly evoked in most stories. Unfortunately, the various stories are short, sometimes only a few minutes. A pity, because in some cases the actions and characters of the various horror icons that have come to life can only partly come into their own. It seems, therefore, that several wax statues are co-created as a kind of tribute to the roles they fulfill within the horror genre. The comprehensive story also comes to a halt when Mark and Sarah leave the museum in the meantime to call for help. Nevertheless, the individual stories are depicted attractively with various successful special effects in combination with the necessary splatter. The denouement of the film also pays a lot when all the wax figures in the museum come together in the comprehensive story and fight against Mark and Sarah and their friends who have been called to the rescue. The tribute aspect regarding the horror genre also comes to the fore when various other horror icons pass in review here. A selection from the list: Mr. Hyde, the Phantom of the Opera, Frankenstein’s Monster, Jack the Ripper, an alien-like creature, the Invisible Man, and several other appearances that contribute to the final showdown and make a horror fan of feast of recognition. A successful horror comedy that does contain some drawbacks, but these are far exceeded by the pluses. Splatter, tension and humor are abundantly available in this film, which makes it a must for the horror fan.

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