Waxwork (1988)

NOVEMBER 23, 2008


Lately, the New Beverly Midnights program has been showing almost a lot more 1980s horror movies (recent HMAD entries The Stepfather, The Gate, and The Keep were all part of the program), which is fine by me. Not only does it sort of open up my Sunday (per my 12:01am to 11:59pm ‘rule’, it counts for Sunday’s movie, not Saturday’s), but it offers me the premium setting to see movies like Waxwork, which I had missed back in the day and would now likely not enjoy as much if I had just watched it at home.

The finale of this movie is one of the more entertaining ones I can recall in my recent movie-watching memory. You get a bunch of old butler guys fighting a bunch of classic monsters, including The Phantom and an Audrey II, Zach Galligan using a sword, vampires, werewolves... I suspect that Die You Zombie Bastards’ Caleb Emerson is a fan of this film, judging from the similar kitchen sink approach to the finale of his film. It’s the type of battle that I could watch all day, and had the film not been so obviously low-budget, I would suspect that there was hours of alternate/unused footage from this fight sequence (as there would be nowadays).

The low budget occasionally hurts the film though. The editing is pretty bad at times (possibly the result of having to cut around a poor effect or something), and it’s kind of inert at times as well. For a while, it’s almost like an anthology movie, where someone gets trapped in a wax display and the movie becomes solely about them for a while. Plus each exhibit is different, so you get a werewolf fight in a log cabin, then a bunch of vampires in an old mansion, and later on a full blown zombie attack (for the sake of simplicity, I have ignored all of these subgenres and just settled for "Monster", as well as "Supernatural" due to the voodoo aspect of it all). And that’s all well and good, but after the first couple (werewolf and vampire) not much happens for a while. Also, the mini-movies aren’t all that exciting in themselves – the Marquis de Sade segment, for example, largely revolves around someone eating what looks like the cherry cobbler that comes in my Healthy Choice meal.

One thing I definitely love about it is that the hero is kind of a jerk, and not a very effective hero either. He’s played by Zach Galligan, and he’s a rich prick who has the butler light his cigarettes for him, and that doesn’t change a hell of a lot by the end (his butler gets killed, otherwise I bet he’d probably have him light his post-fight smoke too). He also doesn’t really DO a hell of a lot; most of his heroics revolve around saving his own ass, and the big battle at the end would probably go down the same way had he been somewhere else entirely.

I also love how ridiculously gory it is at times. Without the gore, the movie would probably be rated PG, as the premise is kind of goofy and the “romantic” elements are kept to a minimum (nice way of saying “no tits’). But Christ, when a vampire is dispatched, the red stuff sprays everywhere! A midget is also tossed into the Audrey II, and that alone makes the movie worth a watch.

And it belongs to the insanely high profile club of movies that feature a "funny" use of a Lesley Gore song (in this case, "Its My Party"). I wonder how Ms. Gore feels about the fact that there are probably hundreds of folks who learned of her existence solely via ironically placed songs in horror movies. She probably doesn’t really care.

What say you?


  1. This is one of my favorite 80s horror flicks. It's low budget and a bit corny but all the little scenes where people fall into the wax work and have to do battle with the monsters is pretty fun. It's like it's a Mummy movie, then a werewolf movie, then a zombie movie... then a midget movie. Good times.

  2. I love this movie. I thought it was a lot of fun and seemed to genuinely appreciate the movies it was saluting.
    Plus, I would watch Deborah Foreman eating cereal while reading the newspaper. So the De Sade thing is a huge bonus

  3. I actually just saw this around Halloween time. I admit it is terribly cheesy, but there was something exciting about it; that closing battle scene was rather epic. I'd watch it again.

    They had Waxwork II listed on Demand, but whoever set it up must not have been paying attention because it played the first one... I was slightly bummed. I wanted to see it. Drew Barrymore is supposed to have made a little cameo in it.

  4. I've played the computer game of this, I didn't actually know there was a film...

  5. YES! this movie was so much fun!
    suprisingly, the 2 movie set for less than 10 bucks offers a nicely seemless sequel.

    Both 1 and 2 are really fun.. plus..Bruce Campbell was in 2! gotta love it

  6. "Steak tartare? Oh yes, steak tartare."


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