Waxwork (1988) | Anthony Hickox’s monster club comedy horror restored and remastered!
A staple of VHS rentals in the late-1980’s and early 1990’s – when horror films were becoming increasingly self-reverential thanks to the likes of An American Werewolf in London (1981) and Fright Night (1985) – Waxwork was the directorial debut of Anthony Hickox, the son of Theatre of Blood director Douglas Hickox, and is his love-letter to Universal’s classic monsters as well as contemporary horror icons by way of 1953’s House of Wax.
Gremlins star Zach Galligan is rich douche Mark who is forced to man-up when his high-school pals start disappearing after visiting a waxworks museum that has bizarrely just opened up in an old mansion in their swanky LA neighbourhood.
Run by the mysterious Mr Lincoln (David Warner, dressed like a ’66 Batman villain) and his vertically-challenged assistants, the mansion is a front for their diabolical plan to collect the last remaining souls they need to bring life to 18 effigies of ‘the most evil souls who ever lived’ in order to raise the dead and bring about the end of the world.
After three friends step over the ropes of the exhibits and find themselves at the mercy of a werewolf, Dracula and the Phantom of the Opera, while a chain-smoking detective (Charles McCaughan) has a live burial date with The Mummy, Mark and another of the gang Sarah (Deborah Foreman) discover a link between Mr Lincoln and Mark’s late grandfather – who was fascinated by death and horror.
They then seek out Patrick Macnee’s wheelchair bound Sir Wilfred, a friend of the family, who reveals Lincoln’s diabolical plan. But when Mark and Sarah set out to stop Lincoln, Mark finds himself trapped in a Romero-esque zombie graveyard while Sarah is lured into the Marquis de Sade’s sex stable….
Waxwork certainly ticks lots of boxes. It’s very gory, with great physical effects of heads being ripped off, crushed and exploding, and one particularly gross out scene of a human leg being gorged on as though it were a shoulder of Serrano ham.
It’s got great visual style, with nods to EC Comics and Mario Bava’s colour palette; and packed with little in jokes (I particularly liked the references Vincent’s Price Henry Jarrod in House of Wax: indeed the idea of using real people as waxworks is lifted straight from that classic horror). Even the synth score (always the letdown of movies of this era) from Emmy-nominated composer, Roger Bellon is pretty darn effective.
All-in-all it’s tremendous fun, and now that Lionsgate have resurrected it from the Vestron archives and given it a re-mastered restoration it is well worth a revisit – just mind you don’t step over those ropes.
Film location fans might like to know that Mark’s house (aka the Higgins-Verbeck-Hirsch Mansion in Wiltshire) was also used in William Castle’s The Night Walker, as well as Willard and Ben, and Witchboard.
• Audio commentary with Anthony Hickox and Zach Galligan (after listening to this, I really would like to hang out with these guys).
• The Waxwork Chronicles featurette (This leans quite heavily on the sequel, which I now so want to see. To bad it wasn’t released here as a double bill like in the US).
• The Making of Waxwork (This 30-minute archive featurette is narrated by Patrick Macnee – yeah!!!!)
• Theatrical trailer
• Still gallery
Waxwork is distributed by Lionsgate Home Entertainment UK as part of the Vestron Video Collector’s Series
DID YOU KNOW?
The evil souls collected for Waxwork exhibition are:
• The Marquis de Sade
• The Werewolf
• Count Dracula, his son and the Brides of Dracula
• The Phantom of the Opera
• The Mummy
• A zombie
• Frankenstein’s monster
• Jack the Ripper
• The Invisible Man
• A voodoo priest
• A witch
• A snakeman
• Pods from Invasion of the Body Snatchers
• Rosemary and her Demonic Baby
• An axe murderer
• A multi-eyed alien
• Audrey from Little Shop of Horrors
• Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Posted on August 27, 2017, in Horror, Might See and tagged Anthony Hickox, David Warner, House of Wax, Lionsgate Home Entertainment UK, Vestron Video Collector's Series, Waxwork, Zach Galligan. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.