Ahh, another bonus gem I got when buying a set for a specific movie. This is one of those movies that I first saw years ago, but have never seen the whole movie. I would almost always miss the first part of the movie, and sometimes the middle, but have seen the last 30 minutes of this movie numerous times over the years. The portion that I did watch was always entertaining and I had often thought about renting this movie but never got around to it. Luckily for me, it wound up being on the Horror collection that I had bought so I can finally watch the entirety of today’s movie, Waxwork.
The plot: At an old mansion, the owner is attacked and shoved face first into the fireplace of his study, setting his head ablaze, and as he flails around briefly before dying, his assailant quickly smashes the display cases in his study and grabs the jewels contained in them. Some time later, Mark Loftmore is having breakfast with his mother but gets upset with her controlling nature and leaves for school. Meanwhile, China Webster and Sarah Brightman are walking to school when they notice a strange house of wax that they don’t remember seeing before. They are startled by the sudden appearance of the owner David Lincoln, who invites them to a midnight showing and says they can bring some friends but no more than 6 can attend. At school, Mark is upset to find out that China, whom he had been dating, had gone out with Jonathan, the school’s quarterback. As Mark, China, and Sarah are hanging out with their friends James, Gemma, and Tony, China mentions the invitation to the waxworks and the group agrees to go to it, though Mark and China continue to argue about their relationship. When they arrive at the mansion, Gemma gets scared and decides to leave and James goes with her. As Mark and the others approach the door, they are startled when it opens seemingly on it’s own, only to see a dwarven butler opening it and inviting them in. The butler escorts them into the waiting room and after a few minutes, another door opens and they head through it. As they begin wandering through the displays on their own, Tony stops at a display and goes to light a cigarette, only for his lighter to slip from his hands. As he steps over the rope barricade to look for his lighter, he suddenly finds himself trapped in the display, with his appearance changed to match the display. Finding a cabin in the middle of the woods, he approaches it and knocks on the door only to have the man inside yell at him to go away. As Tony tries to argue with the man, the man suddenly has a change of heart and tells him to get some firewood but as Tony does so, the man suddenly changes into a werewolf. When Tony returns to the cabin, he is attacked an bitten by a werewolf, just as an old farmer and his son arrive. The son tries to distract the werewolf, who brushes off his attack and then rips him in half, but it allows the farmer time to load the silver bullets into his rifle and shoot the werewolf. Tony starts to transform so the farmer shoots him too and as he dies, he becomes part of the display just as Mark walks by it. Meanwhile, China is intrigued by the display of Count Dracula and when the rope suddenly drops, she moves forward to get a closer look and finds herself transported into Dracula’s castle. Confused at first, China is invited to sit for dinner by Dracula and his companions and after eating, he has his servants escort her to her room. As she looks about the room, Dracula’s male companion enters and attempts to attack her but she manages to escape him and run. Heading down into the wine cellar, she finds a man chained to a table, with the flesh removed from his left leg, and he tells her about the vampires and how to kill them. When the male and female vampires arrive, China is able to kill them all and tries to run but is soon confronted by Dracula, who mesmerizes her and then proceeds to bite her and drain her blood. Back in the real world, Mark finds Sarah staring at the display for the Marquis de Sade and as he goes looking for the others, the rope falls and Sarah starts to enter the display only to stop when Mark says the others are gone. As they leave, Mark complains about Tony and China leaving together and Sarah, who likes Mark, asks why he is so bothered by it. Meanwhile, Jonathan calls China’s house looking for her and when he learns she hasn’t returned from the showing, he heads over to the house. As he is escorted inside, he comments about the display for The Phantom Of The Opera and Lincoln pushes him into the display, where he is soon killed. Later, Mark escorts Sarah back to her place and goes to kiss her but she stops him and he says it’s okay and heads home. The next day, Mark tries calling China and Tony only to learn that they never came home. He talks about it with Sarah, Gemma, and James and says if nobody has heard from them by the afternoon, he will go to the police. At the police station, Inspector Roberts says that there have been 13 missing people in the last two weeks and Mark convinces him to go check out the wax museum. When they get there, Lincoln answers the door and tells Roberts that there was no showing last night, as the museum hasn’t opened yet, but invites him to take a look inside. Roberts does so and as he is looking around, he comments about the mummy display but when Lincoln tries to get him to take a closer look, he refuses and says he has to leave. Mark is upset when Roberts says he can’t do anything yet, as he has no proof, and when he leaves, Mark suddenly realizes something and goes to school to get Sarah, saying he recognized Lincoln. Meanwhile, Roberts is going over all of the missing persons reports when he realizes that he recognized some of them as being part of the displays at the museum. He heads back there and sneaks into the museum, and steps over the rope into the display with Dracula and China, and is not transported into the castle. Approaching China, he uses his knife to peel off a portion of her face and places it into an evidence bag. Meanwhile, Mark takes Sarah up to the attic of his house and after looking around, he finds a newspaper article about his grandfather’s death, where the only suspect was his assistant, David Lincoln. When he shows her the picture of Lincoln, Sarah comments that it is the same man that invited her and China to the museum, and is surprised that he hasn’t aged. When Sarah asks Mark what is going on, he tells her he doesn’t know but knows where they can get some answers. Back at the museum, Roberts goes to leave but accidentally winds up in the mummy display, where he is transported into an Egyptian tomb. As he helps to open the crypt, the exploration party is attacked by a mummy and Roberts ends up being trapped in the crypt with the party leader’s daughter. Robert’s partner gets tired of waiting for him and goes inside the museum to find him but he is killed by Junior, a tall butler that works there. Lincoln sees what Junior did and berates him for killing the detective, saying they still needed two more. Mark and Sarah go to see Sir Wilfred, a wheelchair bound friend of Mark’s grandfather, who tells them that he and Mark’s grandfather had been collecting trinkets from 18 of the most evil people in history. However, Lincoln had stolen the trinkets and sold his soul to the devil as part of a deal to revive the 18 deadly souls. Lincoln fashioned the displays to serve as traps and when all 18 scenes have received a soul, then the dead shall walk again and it will bring about the end of the world. Sir Wilfred tells them that the only way to stop this is to burn the museum and all of it’s displays, especially the ones that have not received a victim yet, and convinces Mark and Sarah to go, as he would be more of a hindrance to them but after they leave, he makes a phone call to get some help. Mark and Sarah break into the museum and find themselves in the wax room, where they find a vat of boiling wax inside. Heading into the display area, Mark finds Sarah drawn back to the display of the Marquis de Sade and tries to snap her out of her trance when she suddenly disappears and as he goes to look for her, Junior shoves him into the zombie display. Mark finds himself in a cemetery and when a zombie breaks out of it’s grave and grabs him, he uses a rock to break off it’s hand, then impales the hand on the top of the gate posts as it tries to attack him. When he goes to leave he is confronted by a barrier but realizes that if he doesn’t believe the display is real, it won’t hurt him and he is able to break free. Returning to the real world, Mark quickly jumps into the Marquis de Sade’s display before Junior and the dwarf can stop him. Once there, he knocks out a guard and then goes to confront the Marquis, who had been whipping Sarah. When Mark frees her from her restraints, Sarah throws herself at the Marquis’ feet and begs him not to let Mark take her and the Marquis proceeds to taunt Mark over how he pleasured her with pain. Mark reasons with Sarah, saying that the displays only have as much power as they give them and proves it by having the Marquis try to attack him and Sarah lets Mark take her away from there. When they return to the real world, they are grabbed by Lincoln and Junior and taken away, just as Gemma and James sneak into the museum. The two enter the zombie and the Marquis’s displays and are soon killed off and made part of the displays, completing the ritual. As the displays all start to come to life and move towards Mark and Sarah, they are saved by Sir Wilfred and Jenkins, as well as a group of armed people. Sir Wilfred says that they can let any of the creatures escape the museum or else they will contaminate the world with their evil, then leads the charge against the creatures. As the fight breaks out, Billy is confronted by China, who attempts to bite him but he is saved by Jenkins, who explains that she wasn’t human anymore. Sarah helps to kill James and Jonathan and Mark then kills Junior, who had stabbed Jenkins. As the fight continues, Lincoln heads off into the cellar and Mark, briefly being confronted by the Marquis, heads after him as the museum ends up set on fire. In the cellar, Mark is confronted by the Marquis again and the two fight, with the Marquis continuously toying with Mark, but as he goes to finish him, the Marquis is killed by Sarah, who throws an axe into his back. Sarah and Mark embrace when Lincoln goes to shoot him but Sir Wilfred shoots Lincoln, causing him to fall into the boiling wax. As the flames continue to engulf the museum, Sir Wilfred tells them to run for it, just as the werewolf rips his head off before they are consumed by the flames. Mark and Sarah manage to make it out of the museum, as do some of the fighters, and they watch as the museum is burnt to cinders before walking away, not noticing the severed zombie hand crawling free from the rubble and escaping through the grass.
Waxwork met with mixed results from the critics, holding a 56% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, many of the critics felt it was an entertaining movie but didn’t have anything special to make it stand out. The missing persons posters that Roberts is staring at when he realized the people were at the museum, were actually a copy of one of the missing persons poster from the beginning of The Lost Boys. They picture of a single person in Waxwork is shown on the poster but the information is for two missing children and has the Santa Clara Police Dept. information on it. The movie was a box office bomb, only earning $808,114 off of a $1.5 million budget, but did manage to spawn a sequel 4 years later.
This is one of those ridiculous movies that you watch just to have some fun. The acting is ok, with Zach Galligan (Mark) and Deborah Foreman (Sarah) doing a good job in their roles while David Warner played Lincoln with the same style as almost every other villain he plays. Honestly, I think he doesn’t so much act out characters as just play himself because many of his characters just seem so similar to each other. The story was interesting, though I have to really wander about the “18 most evil characters” aspects and how Mark’s grandfather was able to collect trinkets from some of them. I mean, a space alien, a pod from Body Snatchers, and a talking plant (an obvious nod to Little Shop of Horrors), is a bit of a stretch on the believability scale. The special effects were decent and I liked the make up involved with a lot of the character designs. A fun bit of horro comedy that is worth giving a shot.
Rating: 3 out of 5