Thursday, July 19, 2012

Waxwork

Is there anybody in there in this self inflicted tomb
If you peel away the layers is
there someone in this room
If you peel away the skin....
 - Oingo Boingo

Last time I reviewed a somewhat bad '80s film (Bad Dreams) so I think it's about time to redeem myself with a lost cheesy '80s classic - Waxwork.

Waxwork is what I would call a great Saturday afternoon movie. You know, those days you just want to curl up with a nice cup o' tea and watch people get horribly killed by maniacs, monsters, what have you. It's actually quite a pleasant way to spend a weekend afternoon and Waxwork is the perfect type of movie for it. Not deep, not thoughtful, but hilarious and with a ton gruesome gory goodness in spades.

The kids in this movie are the types of kids you generally find in an Eighties film, We get our main character, the rich, good-looking guy Mark (Zach Galligan of Gremlins fame) and his friends - on-again/off-again girlfriend/bad girl China (Michelle Johnson), pretty good-girl virgin with a dark side - Sarah (Deborah Foreman), and a couple of other folks who aren't as memorable but still entertaining.

One day Sarah and China are walking to a morning class when they encounter a large building they'd never seen before. They also meet the mysterious David Lincoln (David Warner) who appears out of nowhere and invites them to a private viewing of the museum at midnight. As the old saying goes, nothing ever good happens after midnight and they soon discover the wax museum is not what is appears. It also seems that Mr. Lincoln is not who he appears either and with a little help from Mark's Uncle, Sir Wilfred (the great Patrick MacNee) it's up to Mark and Sarah to not only save the day but the entire world.

Oh man, is this movie a ton of fun. It's a little short and it's quite obvious that the director was a novice (a few odd camera angles and shots, plus weird incidental music), but that's part of it's odd little charm. The fun happens whenever someone falls into the display and becomes a part of it. We get an awesome werewolf segment with John Rhys-Davies, a gruesome and wonderful Dracula sequence that doesn't skimp on blood or gore, and a Marquis De Sade whipping that's strangely erotic, although I can't figure out why.

It all culiminates into one of the silliest, strangest battles ever shown on screen. It's literally man vs. monster, and oh what monsters they are including the oddest assortment of villians ever brought onto one screen. I mean, how can you go wrong with an all-out ballroom blitz that contains everyone from the Little Shop of Horrors plant to Frankenstein's monster to Lon Chaney's grandmother character from The Unholy Three. Brilliant.

The waxworks are really the whole reason to watch the movie as they appear to be thought out with great care and the "monsters" are memorable and creepy. In fact, I could have watched how every single victim came to their bloody end in each display and been perfectly happy as the waxwork display killings are easily the best part of the film. But it is a Saturday afternoon movie, and Saturday afternoons don't last forever. So you just watch and enjoy.

Followed by a forgettable sequel Waxwork: Lost in Time that has nothing to do with the wax museum and has a different (and far less talented) actress playing Sarah.

Favorite Moments (may contain spoilers):
  • China in the Dracula waxwork display discovering her "fiancee" Charles who is literally being eaten alive.
  • The Marquis De Sade "enjoying" whipping Sarah and Sarah seemingly "enjoying" her whipping.
  • When the final victims are thrown into the display and all the monsters begin creakily coming to life.
  • The balls-out war at the end between Patrick McNee's army and the wax museum monsters. It's stupid. It's silly. It's awesome.
Fun Facts Kids!
  • Anthony Hickox who wrote and directed the film played the English Prince in the Marquis De Sade segment
  • Charles Band owns the Italian castle the movie was filmed in.
  • Kane Hodder of Friday the 13th fame plays the waxwork of the Frankenstein monster
  • The waxworks museum contained 18 waxwork displays in all.
  • The basement Dracula sequence was so gory it had to be cut down in order for the movie to receive an R rating.

Agree? Disagree? Or just have a random string of curse words you'd like to share? Comment!