Waxwork (1988) / Horror-Comedy

MPAA Rated: R for violence, gore, and sexuality
Running Time: 101 min.

Cast: Zach Galligan, Deborah Foreman, David Warner, Michelle Johnson, Patrick Macnee, Charles McCaughan, J. Kenneth Campbell, Dana Ashbrook, Miles O'Keeffe, John Rhys-Davies, Joe Baker, Jack David Walker, Mihaly "Michu" Meszaros, Anthony Hickox
Director: Anthony Hickox
Screenplay: Anthony Hickox
Review published December 4, 2004

Waxwork is an interesting idea for a movie, poorly executed.  In this tale, we have a group of college students who are invited to attend a special evening showing of the local wax museum, Waxwork, dedicated to classic scenes of horror.  Before their very eyes are displays for Dracula, the Wolfman, the Mummy, and many other classic chillers, but what they don't know is that if they step beyond the ropes, they actually enter the scenes depicted, and will meet a grisly death at the hands of the monster represented, and become a part of the waxwork display itself.

Written and directed by first-time filmmaker Anthony Hickox (son of director Douglas Hickox), Waxwork is just too amateurish to ever rise to the level of the highly conceptual premise.  The characterizations are skimpy, the direction mostly stagnant, and the acting is as week as can be.  I'm guessing most scenes were wrapped on the first take. 

The special effects are effective, although the film is rather low-budget for its type, so one can forgive their occasional marginality.  There are some moments of gore, but the campy nature of the film doesn't really make it a particularly frightening horror film.  Hickox definitely is trying for more of a comedy, yet it is hard t discern sometimes if the overall silliness and inanity of the film are intentional or just part of what should be a fun time at the movies.  Regardless of the intention, it never quite delivers satisfactorily in any direction.

The movie does actually pick up some momentum near the end as the reason behind the Waxwork is revealed, but it's too little, too late.  Only a provocative scene involving Deborah Foreman (Valley Girl) willingly allowing herself to be whipped to death by the Marquis de Sade generates any genuine interest among the many mini-excursions, although this seems very out of place in a film that is about classic horror monsters.

Waxwork might have worked better as an episode of "Tales from the Darkside", but as written by Hickox, it is anemic fare meant strictly for schlock horror junkies.  It's better to watch any of the films it pays homage to rather than this one.

Qwipster's rating:

2004 Vince Leo