Tuesday, March 19, 2013

'80s Class: Waxwork

Anthony Hickox had a great few years.  Don't get me wrong- he still Directs films every now and then.  That said, he had a great run from 1988- his Directorial debut- to about 1993.  He made a bunch of kick-ass films- including Warlock 2 and Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat- and I love him for that.  It's a shame that his career has devolved to the point where he has a Seagal film- Submerged- on his Resume.  Let's enjoy the good times though, shall we?  Waxwork is the first film he Directed and it's awesome.  It's stylish to a fault at times, sure, but I just love the damn thing.  It has the same effect as The Abominable Dr. Phibes- I love it so much that it makes me forgive a lot of faults with the Sequel.  This is actually comparable in many ways to Phibes, as it is a 'hipster' version of classic tropes and stories.  If you have a reason for doing this, I like it.  If you don't, I hate it.  Make sense?  Good.  Waxwork is an excuse to put a ton of crazy, Horror characters into one film and, well, do you need to know more than that?  It has Dracula, a Werewolf, a Mummy, The Marquis De Sade, Night of the Living Dead Zombies and more.  If you haven't seen it, see it.  If you want to go in blind, don't read further.  Sadly, the film seems to only be available on an old DVD that collects both films with zero in the way of Special Features.  While Hollywood hopefully solves this dilemma, read on...
A bunch of hipsters- led by Zach Galligan- are going to College.  They...really have no plans, other than smoking, bickering and having sex.

Oh and they do the 'rich people talking at a giant dinner table' joke a year before Batman.  Suck it, Burton!
In a scene right out of Demons (another reason I love it), a man (David Warner) invites our heroes to his Waxwork for a private party.  What could go wrong?
As it turns out, the displays are a vessel used to kill people and harvest their souls.  To make the film only 90 minutes long, we don't get to see all of them.

Honestly, if I had the money and resources, I'd make a film showing the other dozen or so exhibits and how the people died.  It would have no drama, but it would rock!
Miles O'Keefe is here as Dracula.  I actually really like him here, which is something considering that he's in three of the four Ator films.
As it turns out, Warner killed one of Galligan's relatives is doing this to help Satan.  He needs eighteen exhibits to be activated since 6 + 6 + 6 = 18.  Math is evil, kids!

A key plot point here is also that the exhibits hold an artifact that the person/creature once held in life.  Bear that in mind for later.
All of the creatures are brought to life via cheating, but a squad of old men- led by Galligan's grandfather- come in to fight them.  This battle is sadly-short-changed in the long run, but the logistics involved make me accept it.
One of the exhibits' inhabitants is a killer alien.  No, really.  See why I meant about remembering the 'objects held in life' bit earlier now?

Yes, the killer baby, man-eating plant (Little Shop of Horrors reference) and snake-mutant thing I accept, but this seems silly.
 Highlights of the fight include Galligan killing a Werewolf, the killer baby being exploded by a shotgun and this guy taking out Dracula as he tries to flee.  Boom goes the dynamite!
In The End, Galligan and our heroine are the sole survivors.  Who will believe their tale?  What will they do next?  Why does a wandering Zombie hand seem important?  To find out...read about the sequel.
As you can see, I have really weird taste.  Waxwork is quirky, bizarre and has a goofy plot.  I still love it.  If anything, that's why I love it.  It's ironic and post-modern, while not making that the only thing of note.  So much of Ironic Horror/Sci-Fi/Action is just about the gimmick, be it Scream's Meta plot or other silly stuff.  At this point, we mostly remember those films for those elements, but forget most else.  That's not to say that the films are bad.  For those of us that remember Waxwork, we remember for all of the crazy shit that goes on.  There is so much to love if you are so inclined here.  I couldn't even begin to cover some of the weird, wacky and wonderful moments, even with my choice of expanded pictures.  I have at least a dozen more shots that didn't make the cut, sadly.  It says something that in a film with a guy sword-fighting the Marquis De Sade, John Rhys Davies becoming a Werewolf and a Mummy that crushes a man's head under his boot that I can focus on stuff like 'Why does the Invisible Man kill this lady with a gas hose?!?'
Up next, the sequel- which is on the same disc anyhow.  It's a lot sillier, but I still love a lot of it.  Stay tuned...

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