Review - Waxwork (1988)

We distinctly remember the video cover of Waxwork from the 80s – it absolutely terrified us as children with lots of weird, distorted – well, waxy – faces peering out of a door. The film is an odd one; it’s still really unsettling but it’s not that scary. There’s a mix of things running through it which are confusing but it’s still a good watch for this Shocktober.
Mark (Zach Galligan) and his group of teen high school friends – including Twin Peaks’ very own heartthrob Dana Ashbrook – aka Bobby Briggs – swoon! – visit a weird waxwork museum that has suddenly popped up in their town. This in itself should be enough to raise alarm bells, but the owner is all kinds of Willy Wonka strangeness (he’s played by the wonderful English actor David Warner).
Each of the sections of the museum has a sinister tableau, depicting scenes like Jack the Ripper and The Mummy. As the group wander around the exhibit, each gets drawn to a particular scene. And then they get sucked into the scene – it’s an immersive experience which gets all a bit too real as each of them are killed and turned into waxwork exhibits within the display! Poor China (Michelle Johnson) becomes a victim of Count Dracula and Tony (Ashbrook) is attacked by a werewolf, turns into a werewolf and is then shot with a silver bullet. Unlucky.
There are, of course, a few survivors and it’s up to them to take on the owner and the real reason the waxwork museum exists, with a little help from Patrick Macnee. There’s lots of English actors in this film, giving it a real theatrical feel and it’s all done very OTT with lots of ranggeeeeeeee darling. Add into it a very odd, erotic Marquis de Sade tableau and Waxwork will definitely give you the willies. Ahem.
Our main problem with the film is that the museum’s exhibits are supposed to be ‘eighteen of the most evil people that ever lived’ but of course we have fictional characters such as George A. Romero style zombies and Frankenstein’s monster within the settings. It’s a loving homage to the horror genre but it does get a bit confused.
RATING: 7/10
Watch it for: The vampire scene is really good fun
Watch out for: The Mummy is a real headache