Waxwork (1988) starring Zach Galligan, Deborah Foreman, Michelle Johnson
Reviewed by: The Masked Reviewer
Waxwork begins with the robbery of a wealthy man who is brutally murdered by being set on fire. Decades later a wax museum opens up in the suburbs. One day the enigmatic owner appears out of nowhere and offers China (Michelle Johnson) and Sarah (Deborah Foreman) a free midnight showing with some of their friends.
They invite Mark (Zach Galligan), Tony (Dana Ashbrook), and two others but they back out last minute. Hans (Michu Meszaros) the little person that answers the door is not pleased by how few guests came to the showing. Hans lets them examine the exhibits by themselves as the owner couldn’t give them the tour like he planned. Tony accidentally drops his lighter in the werewolf exhibit so he reaches in to pick it up when he is suddenly transported into the woods wearing an early American outfit. Looking for help he finds a small cabin that looks like the exhibit. You have to watch Waxwork for yourself. My descriptions will not do this film justice.
Cast of characters
- Mark Loftmore (Zach Galligan, Gremlins 2): A curious, rash, lazy young man that is tired of people treating him like an idiot rich kid.
- Sarah Brightman (Deborah Foreman): A sweet, intelligent girl with a curious interest in a rather disturbing subject.
- China Webster (Michelle Johnson, Far and Away): A spoiled, determined girl that uses everyone, and everything to her advantage.
- Tony (Dana Ashbrook. Return of the Living Dead II): Mark’s best friend, and an awful comedian.
- Johnathan (Micah Grant, Like Father Like Son): A teen that relies more on his brawn, that his brains.
- Jenkins (Joe Baker, Robin Hood: Men in Tights): Mark’s friend, and father figure, he is caring, brave, and practical. Joe Baker has made one of the best depictions of a butler in film that I have ever seen.
- Sir Wilfred (Patrick Macnee, The Howling): Mark’s godfather, that has information about the wax museum’s dark secret.
I’ll talk about the villains a little later in the review.
Waxwork is not meant for watching with your family, this film has gore, cursing, sadism, and Tony’s unfunny jokes. But this is a great horror-comedy, for every moment of horror, there is a hilarious comedic moment to make you laugh. Waxwork is a well timed, and well-shot film. The fight scenes feel organic because no one breaks character to show off special moves. When there is a silly moment in a fight, it is intentional. The special effects are still visually impressive. The dialog ranges from great to so bad it good. This film mastered self-referential humor long before Scream was made.
The villains are a joy to watch.
- Waxwork Man (David Warner, Titanic, Tron): An enigmatic man with the charming smile of a spider luring its prey. When you find out what his name is the film also reveals the secret of the wax museum.
- Hans (Mihaly ‘Michu’ Meszaros): A charming host with a flair for the dramatic. He also has a quick temper when it comes to Junior.
- Junior (Jack David Walker, The Strongest Man in the World, Mac and Me): A well-meaning giant of a man. Unfortunately for Mark, and his friends he is not gentle.
- Count Dracula (Miles O’Keeffe, The Blade Master): A soft-spoken villain with a quiet malevolence about him.
- Werewolf (John Rhys-Davies, Lord of the Rings, Raiders of the Lost Ark): This is one of the best portrayals of a man suffering from lycanthropy in my opinion.
- Marquis de Sade (J. Kenneth Campbell, The Abyss): Marquis de Sade, the king of sadism himself. This deranged, evil fop is horrifying and simultaneously hilarious.
Waxwork is a blast. The scary scenes are genuinely frightening. The comedy scenes made me laugh. There are some odd music choices for Waxwork but they aren’t too distracting. This film is cheesy, sometimes hammy, but there are some terrifying moments that stuck with me for years. If you decide you want to watch Waxwork look for the unrated version.
I rate Waxwork 4/5 stars