Thursday, August 28, 2008

VHS Retrospectives: Waxwork (1988)

I can remember as a tot curling myself into a little ball while watching the horror flick Waxwork. I was alone in the basement, which probably accounts for most of my bad childhood reaction, but I thought it was pure unadulterated terror. (It was around the same time as my devout love for USA Network's Up All Night with Ronda Shear... Anyone?) Upon watching it again, age has taken off the nightmarish sheen and replaced it with ninety minutes of laughter. Nowadays it all looks pretty silly, but (for the most part) intentionally so and in the very best way. With all the 80's horror flicks being pillaged by the studios, this one has some of the best remake potential -- not that I'd actually want to see that happen. As the evil curator says in the film, "They'll make a movie about anything these days." Waxwork was SO ahead of its time.

The story consists of teenagers lured into a mystical wax museum, where crossing the red velvet rope means crossing over into the harsh realms of some true horror icons. Vampires, mummies, sadomasochists (?); it's all here alongside an admirable amount of crushed heads. I'm sad to say I didn't curl up into a ball this time, but I found an altogether different kind of enjoyment...

First off, that kid from Gremlins is kinda hot! There's also Bobby from Twin Peaks (pre-Bobby from Twin Peaks) in a very bad wig. Bad for him, good for us. His short-lived character is best summed up by this exchange mere moments before his death: "The Caribbean, the Bahamas, a pretty girl, a body, a bikini... Do I get a woman in my illusion? No, I get a dick. This sucks man!" That "dick" he's referring to is the Wolfman, and the illusion isn't what sucks, it's his role.

We've got that old tried and true horror dynamic of the bitchy skank and her chaste best friend. Here the skank lays it all out: "I do what I want when I want. Dig it or fuck off." Simple enough... You still want layered characters? Well that so-called virgin's got a big lust for whippings and the Marquis de Sade! She's also played by the awesomer-than-most Deborah Foreman, whose awesomeness may have peaked when she played both Muffy AND Buffy in the certifiably awesome April Fool's Day.

Then there's ALF as the Waxwork greeter, described in the film as "that weird tiny guy addicted to helium." His real name is Mihaly 'Michu' Meszaros, and no one gives a line reading quite like him. "Ve vere expectink more!" Would I hire him to be my butler? Yes. Would it make everyone and myself uncomfortable? Yes.

Waxwork has exploding heads, bodies split down the middle, werewolves eating the handicapped, and people impaled on champagne. If being filled to the brim with explicit gore weren't enough, it's all topped off with some Lesley Gore. Madame Tussauds' got nothin' on this place!

1 comment:

Mr. Xploit, Esquire said...

Waxwork brings back memories. I love that white room scene. Overall it's a pretty flawed film but I love that scene.