Waxwork Movie Review   November 13th, 2012

I was looking for some mindless entertainment on Netflix last night and the 1988 horror movie Waxwork came up in my suggestions. It sounded interesting, so I gave it a try. It did have a fresh take on the wax museum horror setting, though unfortunately it was better in inspiration than in execution.

The plot involved a Satanist and creepy owner of a private wax museum who would lure people into private tours and then off them one by one. The twist here is that in his service of the Dark Lord, he has collected artifacts of 18 of the “most evil souls ever.” Why 18, because 18 divided by 3 is 3 sets of 6, or Satan’s Number, obviously. He has embedded these artifacts in scenes depicting those evil souls, turning the whole display into a time capsule of living evil.

This is first demonstrated when idiot college kid number one drops his lighter in the museum, or it’s actually pulled out of his hand by an unseen force, but he’s too dumb to realize it. He steps over the velvet rope and in a sparkle of 80s video effects, he’s transported to the scene of the diorama. That scene turns out to be a lonely snowy evening with a single cabin in the woods. He wanders inside and finds actor John Rhys-Davies who is underused in the short scene. The man rants at him to leave for his own safety, but acting like any good character in a horror film, the kid goes outside to find firewood instead, leaving John Rhys-Davies to transform into a lame looking werewolf.

The kid is bitten by said werewolf and in process of turning into a monster of equally poorly-done makeup, when hunters burst onto the scene and kill them both. The scene then cuts back to the wax museum and we see the dumb kid has become part of the scenery, killed in mid-transformation. The true nature and horror of the Wax Works is then revealed.

So the central concept of the film was an interesting one, though uneven. The film basically revolved around several set pieces with the various monsters. Most of these were good, and I particularly liked the ones with Dracula and the Mummy. It ended up feeling repetitive and drawn out after awhile.

Another problem was with the actors. I recognized several actors by face, though not by name. There were several B-movie actors I’d seen before, but for a lot of the movie they weren’t given much to do. The writing and dialog wasn’t that hot and was kind of staid for portions of the movie. Then there were the standard dumb college kids who could be from any bad movie in the 80s, all playing various types, badly. They were more annoying than entertaining.

Also as a logical quibble, it is noted that of the 18 evil souls, only Jack the Ripper, the Marquis de Sade and possibly Dracula were based on actual people. The others are of course all movie monsters, which is of course the point of the movie, but some of the choices were kind of hard to fit into the logic of the film, such as zombies, mutant babies and the pod creatures from Invasion of the Body Snatchers. There is a scene at the end of the film where all the monsters come to life and it should’ve been an epic battle royale as the good guys try and save the world from the ultimate evil, but in the end it felt like an unfunny version of the fight at the end of Blazing Saddles where the Western escapes the movie set and runs into a stuffy musical.

That was my biggest problem with the film. It was obviously set up to be a meta movie, referencing all these classic monsters and story tropes, but it didn’t do enough with it and ended up flat. It could’ve been so much better. It was fun seeing all those monsters together, but they could’ve done more with it. Of course I was watching it by myself while suffering from a cold and feeling achy and annoyed, so that could’ve affected my judgment. I’d have to give it 2/5 stars, but maybe watching it with friends with some drinks and the intention of riffing on it, it could maybe rate a little higher.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, November 13th, 2012 at 5:13 am and is filed under Movies and TV. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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