Waxwork (1988) Wax On, Wax Off June 2, 2024 08:00

Waxworks werewolf

Since the birth of film, the mysterious fantasies regarding wax museums have always been a tantalizing subject matter for horror film creators. Going back as early as the 1924 German silent film Waxworks, the fascination with humanoid wax creations coming to life and wreaking havoc on unsuspecting townspeople has always been an easy way to creep out viewers. But one film dares to be a little different. Instead of following the tired trope of a serial killer dipping his victims in wax, the late '80s film Waxwork takes a more supernatural approach. Does this approach manage to breathe new life into a decades-old concept? Or does it melt before the plot of the film has the appropriate time to cure?

Waxwork Michelle Johnson bloodied bride

Waxwork follows a group of teenagers as they attend a special midnight opening of a mysterious wax museum in their quiet residential neighborhood. Upon entering, two teens are transported to another dimension while exploring the exhibits. One faces a werewolf, played by John Rhys-Davies, while the other, the seductive China (Michelle Johnson), is trapped in a castle with a family of vampires. Despite realizing the danger, the two teenagers continue to play along like it's a game, unaware that they may not make it out alive.

Waxwork

The remaining two of the group, Mark and Sarah, who resist being drawn into the waxworks decide to leave when they can't find their friends, assuming they ditched them. However, when their friends fail to show up at school the next day, Mark becomes concerned and seeks help from the police. The detective dismisses his claims, but does mention that several people have gone missing recently. Mark returns to the museum with the detective where he is scolded for wasting his time, but the detective eventually becomes intrigued by how eerily familiar some of the statues at the museum resemble some of those reported missing, and decides to investigate further. Later, Mark learns from his Grandfather's friend that the owner of the waxwork is conducting an evil ritual and each exhibit contains the spirit of the evil represented by the wax figure. Each victim that is lured into the exhibit opens a door for the evil to enter the real world, and once all eighteen exhibits are activated, they will all come alive and cause chaos in the world.

Waxwork retirement posse

Waxwork successfully captures the essence of 1980's supernatural and horror films, transporting viewers into other worlds of cinema horror history. The energetic and thrilling scenes where characters enter the exhibits are well-executed and enjoyable. However, the film loses some of its magic in the second half as it tries to explain the events, and when the protagonists are saved by a group of elderly retirement home shut-ins. The shift in tone and pace is evident, and it's clear that the story struggles to maintain the same level of suspense and excitement as in the beginning.

Waxwork Michelle Johnson sweaty

Despite its positive qualities, Waxwork ultimately loses momentum quite quickly, especially after the death of China (Michelle Johnson) - the film's most attractive and engaging character. While it does deserve credit for attempting a new spin on the overused theme of wax museum horror, it seems that little thought was put into executing this concept as effectively as the setup promised.

Waxwork wax museum

In the end, Waxwork may still be worth a watch for die-hard genre fans or those who appreciate the classic 1980's style, but prepare to be disappointed around 35-40 minutes in when you start questioning where the plot can possibly go after eliminating half the cast (including the most interesting and beautiful character), and leaving you with the two least compelling characters who must somehow carry out a rather ridiculous conclusion on their own, with help from a group of elderly men from the local assisted living facility.

5/10


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