A group of teenage friends are invited to a waxwork that seemingly appears overnight. Once there, they discover that they are the only guests and the exhibits (many of which feature classic Hollywood monsters) are alive. They will have to think on their feet if they have any hope of not becoming a part of the next attraction.
Waxwork is a little different than a lot of its contemporaries and it’s better for it. The film isn’t afraid to go to unusual places or be unexpected. It is creative and totally surreal. The core concept behind it is both smart and allows the picture to pay tribute to various incarnations of monster cinema that came before it. And while many of the classic monsters are represented, Waxwork never feels derivative or plagiarized.
One of my favorite things about the film is the dialogue. A lot of it is terribly dated but it makes the picture feel very much like a time capsule of its era. Lines like, “I do what I want when I want. Dig it or fuck off,” are particularly enjoyable when looking back on this often underrated classic.
In addition to very ‘of the moment’ dialogue and a great creative flare, the film also has a terrific cast. Deborah Foreman (April Fool’s Day) and Zach Galligan (Gremlins) both shine in lead roles. But even the supporting characters are enjoyable and often likable. The late Patrick Macnee (The Howling) is incredible as a professor that lends a hand to stop the evil that spring from the waxwork.
The effects work is accomplished practically (as was the standard for the era in which the film was released). The creature and gore FX are brutal and rarely hold anything back but they’re never too far over the top, either. The werewolf transformation is of particular importance, given that this wasn’t a terribly big budget picture but the lycanthrope sequence was state-of-the-art at the time of the original film’s original release.
The less said about the sequel, the better. I will keep it simple: I don’t like it. I think it is a wholly inferior attempt to recapture the magic of the original and it fails on almost every level. Recasting Deborah Foreman was a huge mistake. She is one of the best things about the first film. And another actress stepping in to attempt to fill her shoes just does not work. The role should have been rewritten with a new character. I can’t say that the sequel doesn’t have its fans but I am not one of them.
The specs and special features are the real draw here, so I’ll shift gears to touch on all of that. Dear God, this release is jammed with amazing bonus content. It contains an unrated version of the film for the first time, multiple featurettes (including one which is broken into six-parts), an audio commentary track with the film’s director and star Zach Galligan, an isolated score track, an interview with the composer, a theatrical trailer for both the first and second films and a still gallery from each feature. This is the definitive release that fans of the film have been clamoring for. And if you don’t grab your copy soon, you will likely regret it. This is a limited edition release and there will only be pressing. The disc is a little on the pricey side but it’s bound to go for astronomical amounts when it falls out of print.
The transfer and audio quality are great. The sound is crisp and the picture has been restored to its original glory. There’s really nothing to gripe about here. You can pick Waxwork and Waxwork II on Blu-ray starting today.
WICKED RATING: 8/10
Director(s): Anthony Hickox
Writer(s): Anthony Hickox
Stars: Zach Galligan, Jennifer Bassey, Joe Baker, Deborah Foreman, Michelle Johnson
Release: October 18, 2016 (Blu-ray)
Studio/ Production Co: Vestron Video, LionsGate
Sub-Genre: Monster Movie