Waxworks (1988)

Director: Anthony Hickox
Starring: Zach Galligan, Deborah Foreman, David Warner, Michelle Johnson, Patrick Macnee, Dana Ashbrook, John Rhys-Davies . USA . 1h 35m

The 80’s was a decade of goofy horror, obviously there were some real shockers out there which really upped the ante and changed the game forever but I feel that the number of cheesy comedy horrors was possibly at an all time high, but some were presented in a way which really captured the hearts of horror fans and like this, made themselves into the cult classic year book. Waxworks have always thrilled and entertained but in this epic terror things get more creepy than usual when a mysterious exhibit appears from nowhere with a staff of misfits at its helm.

A group of teens chance apon a pop up Waxworks, the accommodating host and his tiny sidekick invite them back for a private viewing that evening and they jump at the chance.

Each display shows an ghastly horror scenes with stock characters from the genre, which peaks the interest of the youngsters but unbeknownst them them they have the ability so come alive and essential suck a person into their story. The first to cross the barrier is Tony (Ashbrook)and China (Johnson), Tony ends up in a cabin where John Rhys-Davies as a lumberjack attacks him while turning into a werewolf. A pair of hunters turn up to help, they kill the werewolf by Tony starts to turn from a bite his sustained during the attack and they shoot him also, meanwhile China finds herself at Castle Dracula (my favourite segment) but I don’t want to spoil the surprises of her visit but things get messy down in the basement after the steak tartare.

The rest of the teens escape the exhibit, regroup and get some advice from their sage Sir Wilfred (Macnee) who reveals the magical link to the working of the Waxworks and so they go back to fight evil!! And things get messy..as you’d expect

There’s lot to love about this film, but it is one of those horrors that doesn’t aim to scare but it’s just dark comedy and at times it’s pretty awesome fun.

The concept is pretty strong and the direction from not veteran Hickox is actually quite brilliant considering all of the different styles involved in the movie. There’s an opportunity for a style carte blanche as each time the characters break into a different display they fall into the essence of that story, the mood and atmosphere change completely.

What really keeps the film alive is its energy and the performers, the sexy vampire count with a half eaten patron in the cellar, and the steak tartare meal, then John Rhys-Davies as a hulking werewolf in midnight forest breaking into a lonely cabin. Each story should be terrifying but it’s recognised instantly by horror fans. I feel the film has fallen through the cracks and it’s not really spoken about much anymore which is a shame as it’s sparked a semi decent sequel and has a lot of potential for more. Something to remind us of the cliches without being too ridiculous about it in the Scary Movie (2000) kinda way.

Rating: 6/10

R: Waxworks II : Lost In Time (1992), The Monster Squad (1987), House of Wax (2005), Scary Movie (2000)

5s: Anthony Hickox, Zach Galligan


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