Waxwork is a horror film from the late 80’s that is fondly remembered for good reason – it being not only interesting, but one that continues to entertain to this very day. Most of that is due to the fact that is a mixed bag of a film, there being all sorts of sub-genres thrown into it so that it is not just one kind of horror, but many. There is a little blood, a bit of eroticism, some exploitation and more including werewolves, vampires and even the Marquis de Sade. It is to say the least, quite original and unlike most of the movies released in that decade.
Starring Zach Galligan and David Warner primarily as hero and villain, the picture would find them at odds though it would be more like a battle of wills than anything else. Galligan is the teenager that nobody believes and has no idea what he is talking about while Warner is the elder statesman, the gentleman who can be nothing but. While eventually Warner would get his in the end, this being a proper horror film with a happy ending where the good guys come out with a victory, he definitely made the movie a lot better than it would have been had they cast anyone else in the role. For his part, Galligan was all right but slightly annoying at times, that due to him playing an entitled rich kid, but soon discovering the qualities that make a hero underneath. What worked against him and the movie in general was the fact that this was supposed to be a horror/comedy like so many other movies from that decade, but also like many of them, the comedy no longer works very well, being stale and not funny in the slightest. It is a good thing then that there is enough action and adventure to be found within, not to mention a bit of suspense and a couple of scares as well.
As for the plot, it was pretty ingenious as it would find Warner playing a man literally beyond his years, having made a deal with the devil many moons previous and now looking to claim some souls so that his wax figures that look just a little too real, might claim life upon the Earth and bring about its end. It just so happens that Galligan is the one person to stand against him and when said protagonist figures out how to beat said antagonist, it is no longer just a battle of wills, but one that will find them locked in mortal combat with only one of them making it out alive. To that effect, Galligan gets some help from Patrick MacNee of all people and a few of his friends when the forces of evil look like they are going to win, it takes a sacrifice and a little teamwork for the good guys to come out on top.
When it comes to the horror and the special effects, its a baker’s dozen for the audience as anything and everything can be found within the film. The vampires are menacing, the werewolf looks ferocious, the zombies and monsters are expertly made up to be as frightening as possible and the Marquis is both disturbing and highly enjoyable to watch at the same time, J. Kenneth Campbell who plays him obviously relishing the opportunity to cut loose with a performance slightly over the top. While it would be nice to pick a favourite, director Anthony Hickox does a great job with these little pocket dimensions that Galligan and company have to traverse through that it becomes impossible. Altogether, the film thrills through and through and it is no wonder that it would eventually spin off a sequel a number of years later.
A few familiar tropes do rear their head throughout, but aside from that and some dated comedy, Waxwork is a horror film that works on every level featuring a little something for every kind of horror fan and a movie that gets better and better the further it goes along.
3.5 out of 5