The Film (4/5 - Waxwork, 3.5/5 - Waxwork II)
It occurred to me that films like Anthony Hickox's Waxwork films were essentially left in the 90's. By that I mean films that had interesting concepts, but were targeted almost at a more broad audience of horror fans. Yeah, the films were definitely R-Rated when it came to violence, but the overall look of the films were more fun and upbeat than a lot of the grim horror fare to come out since the 2000's.
Waxwork basically extends its basic conceit from the Vincent Price vehicle House of Wax, but goes about 10 steps further and in doing so makes it so that they can pay homage to multiple other types and styles of gothic horror, and also keep the film interesting by always changing things up. The film follows a group of yuppie college students 2 of which Sarah (Deborah Foreman) and China (Michelle Johnson) were invited to the debut of a suburban Waxwork by the owner (David Warner, Time Bandits). They grab their friends including Tony (Twin Peaks’ Dana Ashbrook), Mark (Zach Galligan, Gremlins), Gemma, and James, and attend the midnight premiere. However, the Waxwork isn't just about stationary wax dummies. And the group is about to find themselves each trapped in the exhibits and fending off werewolves, zombies, vampires, and even the Marquis de Sade. With the help of supernatural expert Sir Wilfred members of the group must find out how to stop the evil wax sculptor and destroy the Waxwork.
I haven't seen Waxwork in about 15 years, so I didn't remember too much of it. I do remember it being one of my favorite films in the Vestron stable. I was always a huge fan of House of Wax and gothic horror films, and this film paid tribute to those in droves. In revisiting the film on this Blu-ray I found myself not just simply enjoying the film, but falling in love with it all over again. The film is absolutely a late 80's horror cheese fest, but it does everything so well, even with its limited production values.
The performances from the main cast are completely solid for the most part. Dialogue in the film is strong, with some great and memorable one-liners that had me laughing out loud. The overall look of the film even with the cardboard cut out nature of the Waxwork worlds the kids found themselves in, felt very much fun, and tonally accurate to the film's they were paying homage to in a sort of indirect way. Hickox created a fantastic atmosphere, and I found myself just drawn in to the whole thing. It won't be even close to 15 years before my next watch.
Waxwork II: Lost in Time begins the same night the first film ends. The dismembered hand that survives the first film follows Sarah home and kill her stepdad. Being that police are not prone to believing stories about living dismembered hands, and supernatural waxworks she and Mark have to go and find evidence to prove that the weirdness they lived through is true. To this end they go to Sir Wilfred's residence to go through his artifacts. They find one that acts as a dimensional portal through time, and use it to skip through time and space to find evidence to free themselves.
Waxwork II: Lost in Time is not as great as the film, but don't let that dissuade one from potentially viewing this one, because it is a ton of fun. Like the first one it is basically an excuse to take the main cast to various horror like settings (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Nosferatu, etc) and have them play out in those scenarios. In that regard it is an absolute blast of fun.
Sarah in this film was replaced by Monika Schnarre, who does fine with the material on hand. The film like the first one is hard to take seriously, especially since the whole plot could be resolved by showing off the device they use to travel in time, but once things get going it's too much fun to care. The film does drag a bit in the latter portions, but overall the pacing is solid as the film doesn't spend too much time in one time zone.
Both Waxwork I and II are presented by Lionsgate/Vestron in 1:85:1 1080p AVC encoded transfer. No matter how you look at this these are upgrades from prior DVD editions which were 1:33:1 full frame DVD's and cut down from their native wide. Both transfers have decent detail for the most part. Both films have soft elements as a nature of their productions, and as such that comes through here. We have solid black levels here, flesh tones are accurate, and there is healthy grain field. Colors are also nicely reproduced.
Audio is presented with a 2.0 stereo mix that works well for the most part. I did not notice any issues with the track and dialogue and score came through nicely.
Each film has a commentary track with Zach Galligan and Anthony Hickox. The Waxwork disc has a 6 part documentary entitled the Waxwork Chronicles that details the making of the films. Both films have a still gallery and trailers.
The third Vestron Video Collectors Series release does an excellent job bringing the two Waxwork films to Blu-ray. The films look and sound great, and after watching them for the first time in 15 years they are just as fun as ever. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.