Waxwork is the story of a group of kids who go to a wax museum depicting scenes from horror movie-esque worlds. When foolish patrons cross the ropes into the exhibits they go into the worlds and become the victims of the monsters. Whenever monster has a victim then all the wax sculptures awaken and take over the world or some nonsense. The film is basically the original Cabin in the Woods. It’s an enjoyable and gory romp starring Gremlins’ Zach Galligan as the only one of the kids competent enough to not become a victim of a wax sculpture world. Worlds include werewolves, vampires, zombies, and a weirdly long venture into the world of The Marquis de Sade. It’s wonderful and I love it.
Waxwork 2 picks up the very moment that the first one ends Galligan’s character Mark and the lone other survivor Sarah (played by Deborah Foreman in the original and Monika Schnarre here) walk away from the burning waxwork. Unseen by them, a disembodied zombie hand from the Night of the Living Dead world climbs into their cab and comes home with Sarah. The hand kills Sarah’s step-Father (George “Buck” Flower) and she gets blamed for it. Since Sarah’s facing imprisonment and possible execution for her percieved crime, Mark investigates the home of a friend of his grandfather’s and finds a magic compass that points at doors which lead to another world.
Mark and Sarah go on a crazy adventure, starting out in a world based on Frankenstein. Then they go into worlds based on Alien and The Haunting. The Haunting sequence is the best because it features Bruce Campbell and some wonderful physical comedy. That section of the movie alone is worth the price of admission. But eventually they become trapped in some boring swords and sorcery version of England for what seems like two hours. The movie does redeem itself as Mark and the villain swordfight their way through worlds based on Dr. Jekyll & Mister Hyde, Dawn of the Dead, Jack the Ripper, Nosferatu, Godzilla, and Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
Does It Hold Up?
I think it’s better. The medieval times section of the movie does bring it to a screeching halt and there’s not a lot to love there until the film’s climax, but Waxwork 2 is fun. While the original wasn’t exactly serious horror, Waxwork 2 really takes the Evil Dead 2 route with cartoonish gore and a lot of physical comedy. Zach Galligan is wonderful as the lead and I have to wonder why he didn’t become the king of low-budget horror. I can’t begin to name all the movies with horrible actors playing characters that Zach Galligan would’ve made charming and funny.
The film and its predecessor were directed and written by Anthony Hickox of Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat, Hellraiser 3, Full Eclipse, and Warlock: The Armageddon. Those are all movies you either love in spite of their flaws or hate with a fiery passion. The Waxwork movies are the best things he did and I very much wish there had been a third.
Now I have seen this movie dozens of times so I thought I remembered every wonderful thing about it, but I forgot one entirely. After the film ends, the credits become a music video. In the tradition of The Fat Boys’ Are You Ready For Freddy, the rap group LA Posse recorded a song for Waxwork 2 and it is magic.
Watch, Toss, Or Buy?
Buy it, just for the Bruce Campbell bit alone.
Where Can I Find It?
Lionsgate’s Vestron Video label has just released a wonderful Blu-ray of both films.