A group of college students enter a new wax museum with a twist in this very interesting 80’s horror film from Anthony Hickox.
A new wax museum called Waxwork has opened in a small suburban town. The proprietor of the museum, David Lincoln, offers local college students Sarah and China an invite and to bring their friends to the opening of the museum. China invites ex-boyfriend Mark and friends Tony, James, and Gemma to the opening. Despite their breakup causing tension, Mark offers to go as a way of being civil with China. The group is met by Lincoln’s diminutive assistant Hans and they check out the exhibition, which consists of horror genre exhibits. Tony soon learns that the exhibition leads him into a portal that lands him in a depiction of the exhibition, where he is attacked by a werewolf but upon transforming is killed by a hunter.
As for China, she enters a portal of the legendary Count Dracula, who invites her to dinner and ultimately bites her. As Tony and China’s disappearances have worried Mark, he goes to the police and with a local inspector, they investigate but find nothing. That is, until the inspector recognizes that two additions to the exhibits look strikingly familiar. However, the inspector finds himself going through the mummy exhibit and as more disappearances occur, Mark turns to Sir Wilfred, a friend of his grandfather’s who knows Lincoln, who had “sold his soul to the devil” and not only killed Mark’s grandfather, but had taken the exhibits to bring them to life to wreak havoc. It is now up to Mark to put an end to the chaos before it is too late.
One can think of this film as House of Wax with a major twist with writer-director Anthony Hickox using the exhibits as portals to depict the victims in situations involved in them. This is quite ingenious for a 1980’s horror film with an ensemble cast of young actors and veterans in prominent roles.
Led by Gremlins star Zach Galligan, the young cast are actually pretty decent in their roles of the college students who are destined to be potential victims in the film. 80’s veteran Deborah Foreman goes back to playing a damsel in distress of sorts in the role of wallflower Sarah while Michelle Johnson’s China is somewhat arrogant and finds herself a strong man in none other than Dracula, played by Miles O’Keeffe.
The veterans include David Warner as the evil man in charge of the wax exhibit and The Avengers’ very own John Steed, Patrick Macnee, as the wheelchair-bound man who learns of the incident and has a connection to said evil man, ultimately becoming the ally Galligan’s Mark needs to stop Warner’s Lincoln. The late Mihaly Meszaros makes the most of his role as Lincoln’s assistant Hans with Jack David Walker as Lincoln’s tall hulking butler Junior.
The final act serves as a highlight for the film in which Galligan, Foreman, and Macnee engage in a free-for-all against the likes of Warner, Meszaros, and Walker and every flipping monster involved as well as their friends who have fallen victim to the “dark side” of the portal. The special effects of the film are quite a hoot as well from Dana Ashbrook’s mid-werewolf transformation with John-Rhys Davies’ full on werewolf ripping a man in half before getting blown away, leading to said Ashbrook transformation to a disturbing scene involving the inspector taking a piece of skin from China’s now waxed skin in the Dracula exhibit.
Waxwork is such a fun horror film that meshes House of Wax, the time portal effect, and the horror icon figures of old. The free-for-all finale is quite a delight to watch and the film proved successful that Hickox and Galligan would reunite four years later for Waxwork II: Lost in Time.
WFG RATING: B+
A Vestron Pictures production. Director: Anthony Hickox. Producer: Staffan Ahrenburg. Writer: Anthony Hickox. Cinematography: Gerry Lively. Editing: Christopher Cibelli.
Cast: Zach Galligan, Deborah Foreman, Michelle Johnson, Dana Ashbrook, Micah Grant, Eric Brown, Clare Carey, David Warner, Patrick Macnee, Mihaly Meszaros, J. Kenneth Campbell, Miles O’Keefee, John Rhys-Davies.