Waxwork is one of the most fun ’80s horror comedies, and it came out at the tail end of the ’80s, when the genre pretty much seemed to be dying (with a couple of exceptions like Society, The ‘Burbs and Killer Klowns from Outer Space.) It almost feels like it could be a Joe Dante film, and that’s not just because it stars Zach Galligan but because it’s a film that has the zany energy of his films and is full of references to monster movies.
It’s an ’80s horror movie, so it’s a bunch of teenagers, even though everyone was at least 20 by the time they made the movie. Galligan plays Mark Lothmore who, along with his friends, visits a bizarre wax museum that is located on a residential suburban street. The two girls of the group, Sarah (Deborah Foreman) and China (Michelle Johnson), have gotten an invite to visit the museum at midnight and to bring along up to a group of six, which is already pretty dodgy to start with.
But of course they go to the museum, where they encounter a little person who invites them in. When they look around, it’s full of stock monsters like Frankenstein, the Werewolf, Dracula and even the real-life Marquis De Sade. Little do they know that all of the exhibits have a portal to the monsters’ own world, and soon some of the gang have disappeared—including a pre-Twin Peaks Dana Ashbrook, who first thinks that one of his friends has spiked his drink with acid again… but then he remembers he gave up drinking! Soon Mark figures it out—but will the surviving members succumb to the same fate at their friends?
The film is absolutely a blast from start to finish. It’s got a good sense of humour and enough gore to satisfy the gorehounds. It’s got a great cast of cult actors, with Galligan as the lead. It was only his third role after Gremlins and the still unreleased but magnificent Nothing Lasts Forever. Dana Ashbrook is having a blast, but is sadly out of commission too early on. Deborah Foreman was hot after starring in Valley Girl a couple years earlier, and David Warner is perfectly cast as the villainous owner of the waxworks.
How can you not love a film that has Frankenstein, Dracula, The Mummy, werewolves, zombies, pod people, The Phantom, the Marquis De Sade, Jack The Ripper, Evil from Time Bandits, the guy from Gremlins and Bobby Briggs from Twin Peaks in it? It’s a really inventive tour de force debut from Anthony Hickox, whose father Douglas Hickox directed the equally fun Vincent Price vehicle Theatre of Blood. I’m just hoping the sequel comes out over here soon, because that one has Bruce Campbell and David Carradine!
The disc includes a commentary from Hickox and Galligan, and The Waxwork Chronicles, which covers both films in the series, plus some more making-of stuff, the trailer and a stills gallery.