Waxwork (1988)

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Overall Rating 60%
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Ranked #3,862
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Connections: Waxwork

A waxwork museum comes to town, and a mysterious man invites some teens to come to a special showing at midnight. Once inside, while viewing different exhibits, the scenes come alive and the viewer is sucked into the story being portrayed. --IMDb
Review by Chad
Added: July 08, 2010
Waxwork was not a movie that I ever planned on watching. I had seen it sitting on the shelf back when I used to regularly visit the local mom-and-pop video store, but it just seemed a little too cheesy for my tastes. Based on the cover, I was expecting a mixture of Puppet Master and Mannequin, and though there is definitely potential in that concept, I simply wasn't expecting to see it realized in this film. However, it was recommended to me by a user of the site, so I decided to go ahead and give it a shot. Do I regret it? Well, let's see...

The story kicks off when China (Michelle Johnson) and Sarah (Deborah Foreman), two valley girls with a combined IQ that probably doesn't go beyond the double digits, are walking through their neighborhood and spot a wax museum. It wasn't there the day before and they never saw it being built, but there it is now. Mr. Lincoln (David Warner), the owner of the place, quite literally appears out of nowhere and introduces himself, and he invites the girls to bring a few friends to a midnight exhibition at his museum. They have nothing better to do, so why the hell not? They round up a handful of their friends - Mark (Zach Galligan), Gemma (Clare Carey), Tony (Dana Ashbrook), and James (Eric Brown) - and the entire lot of them come back at the witching hour.

They're first greeted by two butlers, one being an incredibly tiny midget and the other being a hulking mute giant, but that's not what they came to see: they came to see some wax figures, and by God, they're going to get their fill. You see, this particular museum is devoted to the grisly and the macabre, with exhibits featuring the legends of evil. There's a werewolf exhibit, one for Dracula, one for a zombie film, a mummy, a piece devoted to Marquis de Sade, and all manner of other nasties. That's fine and all, but the kids soon discover that if they get too close to the exhibits, they are immediately sucked into those worlds: cross the velvet rope at the zombie set, and you will find yourself in a grainy black-and-white zombie movie. The unfortunate discover exactly how the owner builds these "wax" figures, the survivors learn that the man in charge has a greater plan in place, and it will be an ultimate showdown between fresh-faced teens and the waxy dead.

It should really go without saying, but there is a certain degree of campiness to this film. I wouldn't go so far as to call it a horror comedy, but there are definitely some laughs sprinkled in there none the less... and if I were a betting man, I'd say that not all of them were intentional. For example, watching a man in a wheelchair battle a werewolf in a burning building? It's not something that was written purely for laughs, but it's just so absurd that it's funny anyway. There are a lot of moments like this in the film, so again, it's not exactly a horror comedy hybrid but it sure as hell isn't a straight-faced horror flick either.

If you can accept that and if the concept sounds intriguing, you'll likely enjoy the film to a certain extent. There's certainly some originality on display here, and the exhibits coming to life were far and away the shining moments of the running time. Horror fans especially will enjoy those moments, as there are a lot of nods to the genre classics in here. The storyline between those segments was also pretty good even though it does tend to drag in spots, but it's an overall enjoyable experience with acceptable acting.

My biggest complaint about the film, by far, came courtesy of the editing. Now, there are about a thousand different versions of this film in existence, with this scene being trimmed in this release and that scene being cut in that release. Naturally, I watched the most complete cut of the film known to man, the one featuring all of the good stuff with no post-release cuts to be found, yet it still felt like chunks were missing - in fact, I had to go online after viewing the movie just to make sure that I definitely had the uncut version. I did, yet even in this cut of the movie, the camera still cuts away from the "goods" at awkward moments.

For example, a man puts a spear through a werewolf, and in the next frame, the spear is going in the werewolf's chest, out its back, and into the chest of the man who originally put it there. What the hell happened there? There are oodles of moments like that throughout the movie, and it seems as though a lot was cut before the movie ever saw the light of day. This isn't a deal-breaker, but it is very disappointing regardless.

Overall, Waxwork is an enjoyable movie, but it's definitely not a classic. If it sounds like something that you would enjoy, you likely will, but I'm guessing that only the tiniest fraction of viewers would rank this up there as a "favorite" or a "classic." It's enjoyable and it has its moments, but it's not a must-see. 7/10.
AttnDefDis #1: AttnDefDis - added 07/08/2010, 03:53 PM
I am the user that recommended it. Oh yes. I couldn't believe all the craptacular horror movies you guys have on this site and yet this gem was absent. Appalling. Anyway, thank you Chad for FINALLY adding this one. I liked your review as well. I've always considered this movie both super cheesy and highly enjoyable. I mean I caught it on TV about 30 times when I was a kid and I still think it's an original concept. Yes, the acting is sub-par, yes the editing is God awful and yes the special effects are highly outdated, but it's still awesome. Mostly because it brings back so many memories. Had I seen this for the first time in my adult years, it probably would have been cast aside, but I still think there are a number of people on this site that would like it. Plus, there have to be other people that remember it besides me.
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