Waxwork (1988)

Director: Anthony Hickox
Studios: Vestron Pictures, Contemporary Films, HB Filmrullen
Starring: Zach Galligan, Deborah Foreman, Michelle Johnson, David Warner
Tagline: Stop On By and Give Afterlife a Try
MPAA Rating: R
Genre: horror, comedy, voodoo, teen
Scare score: D
Rating: B+

Plot overview:  A group of teenagers is invited to a late-night showing of a new and mysterious waxwork in town by its suspicious owner (Warner).  The inside of the museum holds a large collection of morbid scenes featuring wax models of 'the most evil men from history.'  As some of his friends begin to disappear, Mark (Galligan) begins to suspect that these life-like waxworks may be sucking in victims in one madman's plot to unleash unspeakable evil into the world.

I stumbled upon Waxwork almost completely randomly during a late-night Wikipedia search session, and I was so happy with my choice.  This movie has a little bit everything for everyone.

Coming more than forty years after the 1953 House of Wax really left its mark in the wax sub-genre of horror, I thought this movie had a cool plot for a horror basis with just enough of that '80s sci-fi and humor to make it an interesting, although not particularly frightening - film.  What I guess drew me most to this movie was the numerous fantastic references to historical and fictional characters such as Dracula, the Marquis de Sade, and the Mummy.  I thought it was strange that the waxwork/ plot of the movie pitched these as all being real people (a werewolf?), but hey I guess the whole plot is out there so why sweat the details.

Back to the details actually (okay, so I'm a stickler), a big problem I had with the movie was that the whole evil plot of the waxwork caretaker was referred to as "voodoo," which it really had absolutely nothing to do with beyond the usage of specific possessions of these 'real' men in their wax recreations. Oh well, that's corny '80s Hollywood horror for you.

All the acting is pretty '80s, which is hard to get away from, but I did enjoy all the quirky, archetypal teens dealing with their day-to-day and then their separate fights to survive various imaginative sequences.  Again, I thought all of these horror allusions were really cool, it allowed the movie to explore various genres and break away from the confining wax museum.  We as viewers were given a selection of refreshing death scenes from across the ages, from Dracula's castle to a mummy's tomb to a nice nod at Romero's living dead.  Sure it was easy to crack up at that oversized gremlin that was the werewolf, but later on I thought the brief gore in the Dracula sequence was pretty gross, and then the large final battle was really a blast.  I didn't actually expect Galligan (what's good, Gremlins?) to be the star of this show, nor did I expect the weird and quiet Foreman to become our leading lady and final girl even though she was the obvious virgin throughout.  Either way, I enjoyed Galligan as a hero we could get behind and cheer on, but I wasn't a big fan of Miss Foreman as Sarah.

I watched this movie immediately after watching Human Centipede, yet surprisingly this one had me jump one or two times, which the former film did not.  True, it was like 4 AM, but to this fun movie's credit, it did have me a little scared at least two or three times (mainly jumpy moments while my guard was down).

Final critique:  I can't think of much more to say about this movie.  I really did enjoy it, and I think a good thing about it is that it provides a few silly scares that everyone can enjoy.  It's rated R I think mainly due to language and some slight gore, plus it's about a group of teenagers and you know how they can be, but all in all I thought it was pretty harmless.  I definitely recommend this movie to anybody looking for a fun '80s flick with a few thrills.