*’Waxwork’ (Anthony Hickox, 1988, US) Zach Galligan, Deborah Foreman, Michelle Johnson, Miles O’Keefe, David Warner, Patrick MacNee.
In an American small town, a waxworks appears overnight, and sinister showman David Warner invites a group of typical teens to a midnight party. However, as expected, the place is home to several nasty secrets, and the blundering kids find themselves transported via the exhibits into the presence of ‘the eighteen most evil men in history’. What this means is that the film gets to go through gory vignettes featuring such famous names as Count Dracula (played inaptly with designer stubble and a Clint croak by ex-Tarzan O’Keefe), the Marquis de Sade, an anonymous werewolf with floppy bunny ears, and the Mummy. Nerdy hero Zach Galligan – the kid from ‘Gremlins’ – appeals to wheelchair-bound monster fighter Patrick MacNee for help, and it winds up with a very scrappy fight between the forces of Good and a whole pack of monsters.
‘Waxwork’ is a film buff’s movie – with Warner and MacNee turning in knowingly camp performances, and references to everything from ‘Crimes of Passion’ to ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ cluttering up its very straggly storyline. If you like the same films Hickox does, you’ll probably find this charming, even if the tone veers between the comic and the nasty (the De Sade scene, although inexplicit, features some lurid dialogue) more or less at random. The effects are likewise variable, and in any case are rather fudged by direction which frequently fails to point up the gags properly.
The episodic approach echoes the old Amicus omnibus horrors (‘Dr Terror’s House of Horrors’, ‘The House That Dripped Blood’ etc), and the various cameos allow director Anthony Hickox to parody/emulate the styles of old Hammer films, ‘Night of the Living Dead’ and Roger Corman’s Edgar Allan Poe adaptions. But it doesn’t add up to much more than an anthology of lovingly recreated tableaux from the director’s favourite movies, and the ‘Blazing Saddles’-style climax is simply irritating.
from City Limits