On this tape, Waxwork, I think this one is fairly obscure. But hey, it stars Gremlins’ Zach Galligan, and features John Rhys Davies and Patrick Macnee and David Warner, so it’s got to be worth a try.
After a pre-credits sequence involving jewel theft and head burning, we meet Galligan, son of a very rich family, whose biggest problem appears to be that his mother won’t let him drink coffee yet.
Luckily the household staff are on hand to pander to him. “Your nicotine, sir.”
Two very annoying young girls notice a new Waxwork on their way to school. Proprietor David Warner, who clearly got his suit from Colin Baker’s tailor, offers them a private showing.
Galligan gets history lessons from a teacher with an unconvincing German accent, and an unhealthy nazi memorabilia collection.
The girls are friends of Galligan – and all of his friends appear to be horrible people. But they all decide to go to Warner’s waxwork show at midnight.
This picture of Galligan sums up the film so far.
He can’t even walk through a door properly.
They visit the waxwork, which appears to be lit in exactly the same flat way as all the other scenes so far. These six awful people who all seem to resent each other and everything, despite being incredibly well off, look at the various displays in silence, which is weird, since from their attitude up to now, I’d at least have expected mocking.
Then one of them drops his matches on one of the displays, steps over the rope to retrieve them, and winds up in a far better lit scene, and in a completely different costume.
He meets John Rhys Davies who begs him to leave.
But he assumes that this is an illusion and part of the waxwork so he wanders outside, leaving Rhys Davies alone to transform into a faintly ridiculous werewolf.
When he returns, he’s attacked and bitten, then two complete strangers walk in, I’m assuming local Werewolf hunters, as they’re equipped with silver bullets – although they didn’t bother to load their rifle ahead of time, and they’re clearly not that professional as they manage to drop the bullets , giving the werewolf the time to tear one of them in half – not bad effects here.
The older of the pair shoots the werewolf, but the peril isn’t over for the young, rich waxwork visitor, as he’s been bitten, so he starts to transform. I guess the budget wouldn’t stretch to an entire transformation, as before he gets halfway, the old guy shoots him too.
Then the camera pulls back, and we see that the final scene we just saw is now what’s in the waxwork display.
Next, one of the girls in the group steps into a vampire’s dinner scene. Raw meat with Blood Sauce is the entreé. “Steak Tartare” she says, a girl of good breeding.
Later, she comes across a man on a surgical table, with half his leg eaten away, and pretty soon the head vampire is there as well. They had a lot of fun with this scene. She manages to kill the count by making a cross with two knives, and putting it against his head, which apparently makes vampires’ heads blow up. Then three female vampires turn up, and are dispatched variously with stakes, knives and being impaled on champagne bottles. This scene at least has a sense of exuberance, even if you don’t really care about the protagonist.
A random new character appears – I’m finding it hard to differentiate all these chiselled young men (with the exception of Galligan) but I think he’s a new character. He’s possibly the boyfriend of one of the girls, and finds out they’re at the waxwork, so he visits, meets David Warner, and Warner pushes him into the display of the Phantom of the Opera, but we don’t even get to see that scene play out, all we see is him lying dead. Not quite sure what the point of his character was.
Then, Galligan and one of the other girls have left the waxwork without incident, unaware of their friends’ fates, or not caring. Galligan is attracted to this girl, but she doesn’t want a relationship with him. Then Galligan goes to a Spanish woman (I honestly don’t know who she was or if we saw her before and I didn’t notice) who has written his essay on the Great Dictators. It’s rubbish because, as she so eloquently puts it, “My English is not so good”. And he seems surprised that the paper is bad.
Galligan can’t contact his two missing friends, so after arguing with his friends he decides they must have gone missing at the waxwork, and he contacts the police. The policeman he talks to has 12 other missing persons cases, and is skeptical at first, but he later returns to investigate.
Galligan takes his friends to his own family’s attic, to find some old papers referring to the robbery we saw at the beginning of the film. The man under suspicion, who had vanished, bears a striking resemblance to David Warner.
Also up there, a huge bound copy of the Marquis de Sade that makes Galligan’s female friend go all trembly until she closes it. You can see where this is going.
Meanwhile the detective finally gets pulled into one of the waxwork stories, opening an Egyptian tomb.
Galligan goes to see Patrick Macnee, Galligan’s godfather, who knows all about the theft. Galligan’s grandfather had collected 18 trinkets from the 18 most evil men who had ever lived. “Divide 18 into 3?” “6, 6 and 6”. Warner has sold his soul to the devil, and all the victims are being used to resurrect the 18 most evil people – which presumably include the Vampire, the werewolf, the Mummy and the Phantom of the Opera. All real people in this story, we assume.
He tells Galligan and friend the waxwork must be burned down. But when they leave, he makes a phone call. Is he really on their side. Is he only in this one scene. only there to deliver a cartload of exposition?
At the waxwork, Galligan gets busy with his tiny tin of lighter fluid, but His friend (played by Deborah Foreman) is strangely drawn to the Marquis de Sade exhibit. I think I have a personal aversion to S&M, because I’ve never liked such scenes in movies. From Beyond had a lot, and I thought it detracted from the movie. Same here – I just find deSade and company vile and creepy, with their talk of ‘fillies’ and ‘riding’.
Galligan gets dragged into a black and white zombie movie, complete with a severed hand that really harks back to Evil Dead II, but he tells himself it’s not real, so he’s able to escape, and he rescues Foreman from her ordeal (which, wouldn’t you know it, she’s really enjoying), but Warner has brought in two more victims just in case, and the monsters start coming to life.
All seems lost, until Patrick Macnee comes riding literally to the rescue in his armoured wheelchair, and he’s brought an angry mob with him, ready to kill the monsters before they can get out.
Now I’d love to report that what follows is a spectacular conflagration featuring lots of classic monsters, but I’m afraid it doesn’t really have the reach. It’s a bit lacklustre, really, although there’s some nice fire work.
Macnee makes a heroic sacrifice, and Galligan and Foreman escape the burning waxwork, and all the evil characters are dead.
Except for a scuttling disembodied hand. And yes, there was apparently a sequel, also starring Galligan. I can’t speak to its quality, though.
After this, we switch to Sky One for an episode of the 1990 Flash series, with John Wesley Shipp as the Flash – he plays the Flash’s dad in the new series.
In this series, Barry’s father is played by M Emmett Walsh.
Barry has to help his father when an old case resurfaces.
The tape ends just after this episode.
- L’Oreal Plenitude
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