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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In a small suburban town, a group of college students visit a
mysterious wax museum, where they encounter several morbid displays,
all of which contain stock characters from the horror genre.
"Can't a girl get laid around here without being burned at the stake?" Let me start by saying Anthony Hickox is a brilliant man. This movie was his first time as a writer and director and he did it perfectly. Going on to make a Warlock movie and a Hellraiser film, he has established himself (though still remains under-appreciated).
The film stars the kid from "Gremlins" and his group of friends who encounter the guy from "The Omen", who along with a midget and a Lurch-like butler manage a wax museum full of horrible characters. Dracula, the Marquis de Sade, a werewolf, the mummy, and nine other nasties. Well, the museum offers a portal to each of these horrible worlds -- but if you die in the portal, you die in real life and become part of the museum.
This film is brilliant because of the perfect combination of horror and comedy. You will get spraying blood, mutilated flesh, and a dismembered hand that lives on its own (see "Waxwork II" for more on this and its connection to "Evil Dead II"). You will get a girl sexually aroused by being flogged (sado-masochism goes hand in hand with horror). But yet, it is funny. The midget is cute, one of the kids is just weird and you should hear the way Dracula says "steak tartar" or the scene where the AARP (old people) raid the place.
I could complain about the really odd plot and lack of sense. I mean, there is a part where the origin of the museum is explained. Not only does this make little sense, but there is no reason the man telling the story should know anything about it. Then there is the bit about the sculptures needing relics from their real-life bodies to become alive. Yet, there are sculptures of The Fly, the Invisible Man, and a scene from a zombie film. These things never happened, so how can they have real relics?
But you know what? It is so much fun, you just ignore things like this (especially compared to the complete nonsense plot of the sequel or "House II"...) Recommended? Heck yeah. Great comedy, great horror, great 80s film. Dana Ashbrook appears before the day of "Twin Peaks". Oh, and the professor from "Sliders" is in it, too.
My only concern is that allegedly the film was cut by the MPAA due to gore in the vampire sequence. I would love for that sequence to be put back together (and a director's commentary never hurts). This film would be even better with more blood.
There is something about episodic horror movies that I love. Maybe it harkens back to my youth, when I devoured the EC Horror Comics reprints. Something about each individual character having his or her own interesting death always has been a kick ass idea to me. This movie is great. Each character faces his/her own nasty (extremely gory) death scene in different "exhibits" in the wax museum. A darn good time and some seriously great gore FX! Loved it. 8/10
The Eighties...what a great, fertile, inventive time that was for
horror. When the major studios discovered back in the late Seventies
that indie horror flicks were cheap to make or just buy outright and
distribute, they started crankin' 'em out...by the DOZENS. Way back
when, THE EXORCIST turned the faucet on. The movies that would launch
long-term franchises filled the tub. HALLOWEEN. Friday THE 13th. A
NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. And then the tub started spilling over.
CHILD'S PLAY. THE HITCHER. THE LOST BOYS. NEAR DARK. FRIGHT NIGHT.
Every company, great and small, started looking for the next EXORCIST, ALIEN, JAWS...the next big thing that would make millions. Enter Vestron Video. Vestron had started out doing some of the first direct-to-video pictures ever made, discovering that the market was HUGE. So big, in fact, that they started a movie division, Vestron Pictures. Their strategy was simple: make good (if not great) genre pics that would put asses in the seats, that they could then distribute through the video arm later on.
One of Vestron Pictures' first releases was a little number called WAXWORK. The plot of the old horror classic MYSTERY IN THE WAX MUSEUM was such a tried and true staple, the studios kept falling back on it again and again, finding fresh ways to retell the story.
WAXWORK took a little different approach from the straight-ahead versions, with a cast and a sensibility for horror that still screams "Me Decade" even today. Check out the victim's list: Zach Galligan (GREMLINS.) Michelle Johnson (BLAME IT ON RIO.) Deborah Foreman (VALLEY GIRL). Dana Ashbrook (TWIN PEAKS). Miles O' Keefe (TARZAN THE APE MAN). Then you throw in vets like David Warner, Patrick McNee, J. Kenneth Campbell, John Rhys-Davies, tap Bob Keen (HELLRAISER) to do make up effects, and you have yourself an Eighties' classic!
Like most films of the period, it starts off with a group of bored, young slacker-types looking for thrills, something...ANYTHING that would be a little more exciting than getting high, getting drunk, getting laid (well, ALMOST more exciting than that), and definitely more of a kick than going to college classes!
They find it, alright - in the form of an invitation to a brand new kind of museum. And this one is not your garden-variety, Madame Tussaud's-wannabe. The wax figurines are so lifelike that the displays seem to draw you in...
Well, okay, they DO draw you in. Here's the kicker: the displays are dedicated to some of the most well-known figures in the history of horror: Dracula. The Wolfman. The Mummy. The Marquis de Sade. Reenactments of their most horrible deeds as they drained blood, hacked and tore off limbs or crushed their helpless victims to death. Seeing the scenes gives patrons the feeling of being in the moment...but if they give in to the compulsion of stepping across the velvet rope around each display, they will find themselves living in that moment...FOR REAL.
And here's the REALLY bad news...if the monsters in each display kill you in the 'waxwork dimension', you become a permanent part of the display...FOREVER. So once that happens, the situation couldn't get worse...could it?
Oh, yeah! The proprietor of the museum has a darker agenda than just dispatching troublesome teens, as our heroes and victims discover with each person who 'disappears' into the museum. And seeing how that plan gets foiled is only part of the giggly, gory fun.
Remember that I mentioned that Bob Keen was the effects guy on this? He got his start as a modeler for movies like STAR WARS, SUPERMAN and ALIEN, cutting his teeth as he worked up to projects like HELLRAISER and THE UNHOLY. But he really served up his calling card with HELLRAISER and with this movie. Gore-wise, this is where the retelling of the Wax Museum story gets more interesting...because thanks to Bob, the visuals go where they never had before.
In a manner that would've made the suits at Universal flinch back in the Thirties, Keen and writer/director Anthony Hickox do away with the "quaint violence" that Famous Monsters used to wreak upon their poor victims. No camera pull-aways here, folks. Where somebody might only threaten to "rip off your head and crap down your neck", these boogeymen take that threat to its most intense extremes. No CGI fakery, either. This was back-in-the-day where almost all the effects were practical, live and in-ya-face...the way we like it!
Okay, so the clothes, the music, the casting and even the acting squarely establish this as what could be considered a "period piece" for horror, I guess. But like his colleagues David Schmoeller, Ted Nicolaou, Stuart Gordon and on occasion Charles Band himself, Hickox knows how to get the action going and keep it that way.
This is one of those gems that might've slipped under your radar, but definitely worth seeking out, hunting down and dragging back home to mount in your DVD library.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
ANTHONY HICKOX made his directorial debut, with this really fun,
classic monster movie that should please all horror fans, with it's
originality & wild ideas. Four friends enter a wax exhibit that
seemingly just popped up over night in their neighbourhood, amidst a
rash of disappearances of many of the townsfolk. ZACK GHALLIGAN heads
off the cast as MARK, a rich boy who doesn't treat others as something
he just stepped in (sadly his mother who treats him like a little kid,
doesn't feel the same). Entering the museum with his friends, TONY,
SARA, & snobby ex-girlfriend CHYNA for a midnight showing (although
they are the only ones there). Upon arrival, they are greeted by an odd
ball midget butler & a LURCH (From THE ADDAMS FAMILY) like servant & a
charismatic English gentlemen named MR. LINCOLN (A wonderful
performance by David WARNER). As each kid discovers, the wax exhibits
are that of famous literary monsters. Some of which have victims in
their throes of death & some that don't. Those that don't, can be
accessed by a person who steps over the belt separating them from the
exhibit, only for said person to wind up in whatever horror tale, the
exhibit is depicting. When Tony & Chyna go missing & never return home,
Mark & Sara contact the police. The detective on the case scoffs at
Marks explanation that they may have been killed & turned into wax
figures at the museum, but soon changes his mind, when he realizes that
a lot of the victims in the missing persons photos, bear a striking
resemblance to the victims in the wax exhibits. When both he & his
partner then go missing, Mark & Sara then visit his wheel chair bound
Uncle (Played wonderfully by PATRICK MACNEE) a former hunter of the
supernatural, who has a chilling explanation about the history of the
museum's owner & what may happen, if each exhibit is soon fitted with a
victim, unless Mark & Sara can burn down the WaxWorks museum. They then
try to prevent an eventual apocalypse by breaking in & doing so, but as
they soon find out, getting into the museum after closing hours to
perform such a deed is easy, pulling it off will be impossible. When
the creatures & their now evil victims rise out of their worlds, the
war between good & evil is truly on, but only one side can walk out.
I loved WAXWORK! it's easily one of my all time favourite horror movies! Even when I was a little kid, I rented this movie quiet a lot & it still never bores me, even though I've seen it countless times. WAXWORK is a film made with heart & it shows. It's a horror film for horror fans, by horror fans & really that's the best kind of horror film any fan can ask for. It's a very imaginative & fun piece of work. The performances are great & the special effects are tremendous (Courtesy of HELLRAISER'S own BOB KEEN!). Director ANTHONY HICKOX turned out to be a really good director & the film is a very impressive debut. Hickox manages to mount a considerable amount of tension, suspense & even some creepy atmosphere throughout the film. The kills are disgusting, with plenty of blood shot all over the place, squashed & pulled off heads etc. Hickox clearly had a ball writing the script & it shows! The film is littered with various pokes at famous horror films & famous movie monsters, such as: THE MUTATED BABY (IT'S ALIVE) AUBREY (LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS) FRANKENSTEIN'S MONSTER, THE MUMMY (This mummy is no skinny mummy either! he's massive & very scary!) THE WOLFMAN (You have to see this thing, it's scary & make the werewolves in THE HOWLING look like poodles!) Dracula & his BRIDES, an AXE MURDER, THE INVISIBLE MAN, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, The GOLEM, A WITCH, JACK THE RIPPER, a VOODDOO PRIEST, the MARQUIS DE SADE, CIRCUS FREAK, even DR. JEKYLL & MR. HYDE! The set designs are really good & well captured. Amazingly accurate & professional looking, considering the films low budget & the score changes depending on which monster or era were in & is done in the classical scores of the famous UNIVERSAL horror movie scores of the 30's/40's. Despite it's subject matter, WAXWORK also has some laugh out loud moments & dialogue. My favourite being the one where Mr. Lincoln is showing a jealous football jock (who has come in to look for his missing girlfriend) a sculpture of the PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, with the Jock saying how much he loved the movie. Mr. Lincoln looks at him bewildered & says: "They made a movie about the Phantom Of The Opera?" & after they chat a bit more, Lincoln pushes him through into the Phantoms world, where he then re-appears as a wax victims. Lincoln then walks away & says: They'll make a movie about anything these days! Hysterical!
Look at the top window in Dracula's castle as the heroine is coming down for dinner, it's in the shape of a pentagram. All in all, I highly recommend WAXWORK to any genre fan, it's the perfect type of horror film, that you can gather a bunch of friends together & watch. As the original VHS box art stated: WAXWORK is more fun than a barrel of mummies! Followed by WAXWORK II: LOST IN TIME
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The teen comedy horror genre isn't exactly popular with the critics.
But people watch them because, well, they can be fun. And that's just
what this is. Nice, neat fun.
It's especially impressive considering it's from a first-time writer/director, Anthony Hickox, who later went on to make decent werewolf TV movie "Full Eclipse" in 1993. Here he gives his own homage to a wide variety of horror movies. You've got your werewolf movie (the very first waxwork, incidentally), your vampire movie, mummies, zombies and an trashy period piece about the Marquis de Sade ... all of these are in waxwork museum along with brief appearances from aliens, Jack the Ripper and more.
At first I expected it just to be a "Dr Terror's House of Horror" style piece with six different stories involved, but it turns out the film has more than enough original ideas to keep itself going. It all ends with every waxwork piece in the place coming to life for a final battle. Which is nice. The actors playing the teenagers all give fairly decent, entertaining performances and you have notable cameos from the likes of Miles O'Keeffe, John Rhys-Davies (as the werewolf), David Warner and Patrick Macnee (who was in "The Howling"). The script is pretty well structured and very little about the storyline is disappointing.
All in all, this is among the most entertaining movies I've seen in a while, and I'd recommend it if you're after an ninety minutes of light-hearted, slightly twisted enjoyment.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Six souls must be gotten and given to various monsters in a magical/mystical waxwork museum in order for anarchy and evil to swallow the world. Well, that is the premise of the film, but don't let it deter you from some good solid fun. The plot is at best swiss cheese-like, but the film has style and creativity to make up for its shortcomings. Most importantly the film is loaded with generous doses of humour throughout. David Warner plays the owner of the museum and, like almost all of his performances, is a joy to watch as he slightly hams his way through this film. Some of his lines are the most memorable, particularly as he talks to a jock about his wax creations, staring at a representation of The Phantom of the Opera saying, "They will make a movie out of anything," having just heard that it had been filmed multiple times. The rest of the cast is adequate. Zach Galligan gives his mediocre best in the male lead, but two stunning beauties supply something to visually feast on despite their lack of acting breadth. Michelle Johnson and Deborah Foreman do their level best to entertain. The film is an obvious homage to the horror genre with all kinds of visual allusions to former horror films. Anthony Hickox, the director, creates a fun horror film that I think his father Douglas Hickox, the director of my personal favorite horror film Theater of Blood with Vincent Price, would certainly have been proud of for its ability to mix chills with fun. The film also has a nice cameo by Patrick Macnee, the old avenger himself. Two minor flaws for me are the ending, which is somewhat too forced, and the bloodletting which may be a tad overdone at times. Notwithstanding this criticism, one of my favorite scenes in the film is the one where the man who came to Dracula's dinner table(albeit minus much of his leg)agonizes in pain as he is prodded, poked, chewed, etc.. whilst a fight is going on around him. A fun, fun film.
If you can get through the first half hour of this film, which features
bad dialogue and stiff performances, you may just enjoy it.
A small group of spoiled teens (and one nice girl) go into a mysterious wax museum after hours and each succumb to a different, and dangerous, display. John Rhys Davies (long before his now famous "Gimli the Dwarf" days) is here as a tortured, dramatic werewolf. Miles O'Keefe (whom hardcore MST3K fans will have no trouble recognizing) is a hair product dependent Count Dracula, who seduces the rich-bitch of the group into a nasty, bloody, gross-out dinner party. The Nice Girl (Deborah Foreman) is drawn into the S&M world of The Marquis De Sade (as played by the too seldom seen J. Kenneth Campbell) and it is up to the rich boy turned nice guy to save her before she is whipped to death. Once all of the displays are filled, the characters within are unleashed, and it becomes a war within the wax museum as the remaining heroes must now battle the wax monsters and their transformed friends.
All in all, this plays more like a comedy than a horror film, but the violence, when it appears, is so over-the-top that splatter fans won't be too disappointed.
Followed by a pretty good sequel filled with numerous references to classic horror. Worth checking out at least once.
This one is really enjoyable and fun to watch.I don't care that the story is a little bit silly;horror films are not supposed to be an art movies.What do we have here is a great galore of the famous monsters:werewolf,vampires(their leader Count Dracula is played by Miles"Silent Hunter"O'Keefe),mummy,Marquis De Sade,zombies,Jack the Ripper and even living hand(just like in "Evil dead 2").Special effects(Bob Keen)are good and there are also some nifty gore scenes.This flick isn't scary at all,there are only a few creepy scenes but it doesn't matter.Take your bowl of popcorn,invite your friends and enjoy.
While walking to the high-school, the teenagers Sarah (Deborah Foreman)
and China (Michelle Johnson) are invited by the owner of a wax museum,
David Lincoln (David Warner), to a private exhibition at midnight and
he tells that they may invite four other friends to come with them.
China invites her former boyfriend, the wealth Mark (Zach Galligan),
their friend Tony (Dana Ashbrook) and two other schoolmates to come to
the museum, but the two last ones give-up.
Mark, China, Sarah and Tony are welcome by a dwarf and they separate in the room during the tour. Soon Tony crosses the security rope of the display and he finds in a cabin trapped with a werewolf. China also crosses the security rope of another display and she finds in a castle with several vampires. Tony and China are killed and become part of the exhibition. Mark and Sarah leave the museum and soon they find that their friends are going missing. Mark goes to the police but Inspector Roberts (Charles McCaughan) does not believe in his words. Mark and Sarah find in the attic of his mansion an old newspaper and they learn a dark secret about David Lincoln. They visit Sir Wilfred (Patrick Macnee), who is a friend of Mark's family, and they learn that David is near to unleash evil on Earth.
"Waxwork" is a funny and gore movie with an absurd story, silly dialogs, but also a cult movie. The Waxwork Museum mysteriously appears in town and soon teenagers, the police inspector and several people disappear in the wax museum, but nobody in the town seems to care. The 80's is a fertile period of horror movies and "Waxwork" is among my favorites. My vote is seven.
Title (Brazil): "A Passagem" ("The Passage")
This is about an eerie waxwork museum run by a strange man (played by
David Warner--so you KNOW he's VERY strange :)). Mark (Zach Galligan),
his girlfriend China (Michelle Johnson) and best friends Tony (Dana
Ashbrook) and Sarah (Deborah Foreman) go check it out. Tony is drawn
into a waxwork and gets killed by the wolf man; China gets drawn into
another and is killed by Dracula. Mark and Sarah don't see it happen
but realize something is going on. They go to the police for help but
the police officer is ALSO pulled into a waxwork and killed by a mummy.
Then Sarah gets pulled in to face the Marquis de Sade and Mark is
pulled in to face the living dead...
As you can tell this is a VERY strange movie. It's well-directed, beautifully atmospheric with some gorgeous sets and a wonderful music score. There's also a neat, truly scary black & white sequence. And there's TONS of blood and gore. But I didn't really like it. The script is silly (especially in the explanation of what's going on); this is actually a horror comedy--but the comedy is painfully unfunny and the horror too explicit to laugh at; the acting is TERRIBLE (Galligan is the worst offender) and they cast Miles O'Keeffe as Dracula!!!! Even worse his voice is dubbed--and looks it. Basically the violence, gore, special effects, score and settings are great--everything else blows. It's really too bad--this film does have potential but it doesn't have the talent to carry it out.
I saw two versions of this--the R rated and the unrated. The R rated is bloody but the unrated is just unbelievable. There's a LOT more blood and violence (especially in the Dracula sequence). There is a sequence where blood is literally covering the walls! If you really want to see this the unrated is the one to see.
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