Director: Anthony Hickox | Run time: 92 minutes | Vestron Video | On sale 28th August
The film follows friends Mark (Zach Galligan), China (Michelle Johnson), Sarah (Deborah Foreman), Gemma (Clare Carey), James (Eric Brown) and Tony (Dana Ashbrook) as they visit a waxwork museum which has recently opened in their town. Invited to a special midnight viewing by the museum’s mysterious owner, the group arrive and are led through various displays containing characters from famous horror stories. However, the gang soon find themselves in a fight to survive as the exhibits come alive and start pulling them into the gruesome scenes they portray.
The other week a series of reviews started here on Infernal Cinema which covers releases from the upcoming Vestron Collector’s Series of Blu-rays that Lionsgate are distributing. Classics of the much beloved cult home video label Vestron came to Blu-ray for the first time ever just last year in the States, they have finally made their way to the UK. This review casts an eye over Waxwork…
The first half of the feature is excellent and very entertaining, the second half goes all out. In some ways it is over kill. The plot becomes strained and the special effects and set pieces are relied on too heavily. While the many ‘wax displays’ are impressive the plot grinds to a halt for someone to be showered in blood for a couple of minutes or someone is devoured alive. Hickox manages to guide things back towards the end of the feature.
Despite the mixed nature of the film, this is undoubtedly fun. Hickox gives viewers something eye-catching and exciting nearly every other scene and this is due in part to the effects. They are impressive for the era and have aged quite well, even the high definition shows them in a positive light.
The effects are put to work throughout the scenes when the displays become ‘real’ and the characters find themselves stuck in those actual situations. Hickox takes advantage of this plot point and opens up his feature to adventuring into other subgenres of horror. Waxwork is a mash up movie, in a way.
Zach Galligan is the star of Waxwork, having managed to retain some name value from his role in Gremlins (1984) several years earlier. This reviewer was more impressed by the performances of the supporting cast. The floppy haired Dana Ashbrook is rewarding as usual, recognisable for his parts in titles such as Return of the Living Dead II (1988) and Bobby in Twin Peaks. Legends David Warner and Patrick Macnee add value to the mostly young cast. Many of these actors would go on to star or feature in other Hickox works.
The HD transfer on offer is good, especially once the effects take centre stage. Waxwork, with its many different setpieces, is a worthy title from the Vestron back catalogue to be restored.
Hickox would go onto direct a few other movies that have earned a loyal following over the years. He would direct the Waxwork sequel Lost in Time (1992), the entertaining Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth (1992) and the second Warlock flick The Armageddon (1993). His style in most of this is fast paced, reliant on special effects (often utilized in a unique manner) and never dull. Hickox is also responsible for Prince Valiant (1997), a feature that has so many negatives that people often say it is one of the worst movies to have been made.
Pick of the extras.
The Waxwork Chronicles (82 mins) – A brilliant special feature, this documentary goes in depth on all things Waxwork and its sequel. With new and old interviews with the cast and crew, it contains plenty of clips from the making of the movies. Hickox’s opinions are the most interesting, with him explaining why he did things in his unique way or trying to buck the trend of the era. He certainly did.