Friday, March 22, 2013

'90s Crass: Waxwork II

At last, the sequel to one of the most underrated '80s films ever.  It's Waxwork II: Lost in Time, ladies and gentlemen!  While not as good as the original IMHO, it has a lot to offer.  It really embraces the ridiculous aspects of Sci-Fi and Horror.  That makes a bit more divisive of a film, as it usually goes for the joke over the scare/fright.  A lot of the movie has some genuinely-silly moments stuck in between the serious ones.  For example, while our heroine fights off an evil, killer hand, it squirts mustard all over her while the sounds of 'Take Me Out the Ball Game' play for about ten seconds.  There's a lot of moments like that, honestly.  The story takes a few liberties in its attempt to expand the Mythology- as it were- and some of them are silly.  Most of the story, however, goes on a logical flow from the first film.  Zach Galligan is back and he's brought a whole bunch of Guest Stars to mix things up.  Another difference is that the sequel's plot leads to more outright homages and/or parodies of films, as opposed to just featuring cameos by their characters.  Like I said, there is some division about this film, so let's try to settle it.  To find out which side you're on, read on...
The film begins right where the original left off, but you'll notice something off.

Yes, the original Actress in the Lead turned down the sequel, so they re-cast the part.  I feel for them, but they could have gotten someone who looked more like her (or at least the same height).
 The hand that escaped at the end tags along with our heroine.  It kills her Stepfather- in a cameo by George 'Buck' Flower- and nearly gets her.  She destroys it, leaving no evidence to exonerate her at a Trial.
 Desperate, the pair find a secret room belonging to the Grandfather and take a new portal to find evidence to free our heroine.  They pile on Through The Looking-Glass references here and they literally go 'down the rabbit hole.'

Yes, that is from the first Alice book and not the second.  It's still more canonical than Burton's film!
These portals place them literally in historical places and the rules have changed.  Our hero reunites with the girl- who got separated in the hole- and must escape the house of Frankenstein (not the film).  They get separated again, leaving her in the world of Alien (which will make *some* sense later) and him in a recreation of The Haunting with...
 Bruce F-ing Campbell!  Shit just got real good, yo!

In all seriousness, Galligan helps solve the mystery, but must continue on his journey to save our heroine.  The two meet back up, but unfortunately get captured in a fantasy world.  Galligan's guide is...
 David Carradine!  It's a Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat reunion, even if their scenes are separate.

He tells Galligan how to find the villain, who is also working for Satan.  As it turns out, these 'worlds' are dimension run by God and the Devil to determine who's winning the battle of good vs. evil.  Make sense.
The villain is involved in the dark arts, which leads him to do weird experiments (see below).

His ultimate plan: replace and kill King George (John Ireland in his last role).  The plan is thwarted by Galligan and the man is killed after a sword fight through portals leading to Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Nosferatu and Dawn of the Dead (which is key).
Our heroes get to the only portal that will take them home, but only one of them can go.  Galligan sends the girl- with a zombie hand from Dawn- home to regain her life.
 After proving her innocence, she gets a delivery (in a plot point right out of Back to the Future: Part II) and takes a new portal watch to return to Galligan, who is now an Agent of God in the Multiverse (of sorts).
It's silly, but also silly fun.  Like Dr. Phibes Rises Again, it's a film full of plot holes and silliness.  In a lot of ways, it is harder to defend as a regular film.  With all of that said, it is very fun.  It is best to look at the film as a good time and nothing more.  The film really plays with the overall concept set up in the first film, which I don't mind.  I love The Haunting section, especially because of Bruce Campbell.  I just love that out of the 1,000s of films out there to recognize, they picked that one.  If I ever get the chance to make a crazy film that references other Horror/Sci-Fi Films, I'll make sure to 'pay it forward' to Waxwork/Waxwork II.  I will also say that it's interesting to see how much they could do with what I'm sure was a small budget.  They do a condensed version of Alien- that's just for one section.  It's obvious that they only made one suit (a la Attack of the Giant Crab Monsters), but it's still effective.  If you can accept that this film just wants to have fun, you can have some yourself.  If you're going to be picky, the film is silly and full of holes.  Take, for example, this Revealing Shot...
Next up, a two-part look at a Director mistakenly returning to his previous work over a decade later.  First up, a new city gets returned to...but it seems familiar.  Stay tuned...

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