Horror Movie Review: Waxwork (1988)

Pure cheese…that is exactly what Waxwork is. Pure smelly cheese that you can’t help but wrinkle your nose up at but still find yourself going back in for another smell. Is it how self-referential it is? Something that the 1996 horror Scream would earn plaudits for? Is it the practical effects that both amuse and delight? Or is it a cast that includes Zach Galligan, Deborah Foreman, Michelle Johnson, David Warner, Dana Ashbrook, Miles O’Keeffe, Patrick Macnee and John Rhys-Davies?

What a cast that is and each one plays their role with gusto even when they’re delivering utter dross as dialogue.

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Unsurprisingly the plot of the movie surrounds a wax museum that mysteriously turns up in town. Run by an upper-class gentleman (Warner) it grabs the attention of Sarah (Foreman) and China (Johnson) who are invited for a late-night viewing. The pair meet up with the rest of their friends that include Mark (Galligan), Gemma (Clare Carey), James (Eric Brown) and Tony (Ashbrook). They all then head off to check out the wax museum.

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Inside they find horror displays showing famous characters from fiction. Ones such as the Wolfman, Dracula, The Phantom of the Opera, Romero style zombies and many more. It’s all pretty cool looking but just waxworks, right? Well, no. Step over the barrier into the exhibit and you’ll find yourself transported to the horror world it displays. The characters are very much alive and their threat is deadly.

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Waxwork is a lot of fun but there is an underlying feeling that it is all being played for laughs, even the horror. It’s billed as horror comedy but it’s not very funny. Instead you’re often left with a feeling of cringe when the jokes miss the mark by such an extent. There’s a constant sense of awkwardness to everything which reaches breaking point by time the overtly silly finale is reached.

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It’s not helped that characters are ill-defined and the actors portraying them not given great stuff to work with. The stars are Zach Galligan who could play a role like this in his sleep. Deborah Foreman who really gets to push the boundaries with an erotic scene involving the Marquis de Sade. As well as David Warner who exudes both knowledge and threat without doing too much.

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This trio lift the movie but it’s not without charm too. The effects are impressive and the costumes for many of the monsters look great. Moments like the werewolf transformation, the dinner table scene in Dracula’s castle and the Mummy really stick with you afterwards.

It’s not a great movie and the cheesiness of it all does get a bit too much but to say Waxwork can’t be enjoyed is wrong.


  • Carl Fisher

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