BADass SINema Unearthed - Blu-ray Review
- Published Date
- by Loron Hays
Now, THIS is how you successfully pull off a B-movie. The Waxwork series of movies - Waxwork & Waxwork II: Lost in Time – were made during a very special time in the horror genre, all thanks to the video market. Celluloid magic was everywhere and distribution deals were as regular as lightning during a thunderstorm. So what if these films were stuffed with cheese? So freaking WHAT, I say, if their budgets were less than!? They were made MORE because of it. Comedy/horror films like Waxwork were inventive and fun and definitely knew their audience. They went for broke and left us speechless.
Vestron Pictures, once the leading voice in the VHS platform, is back again doing what it once did so damned efficiently: granting exposure to lesser-known filmmakers. This time, though, they are going back through their own titles, remastering them, giving them the appropriate attention with copious amounts of supplemental material, and then putting them back in the public sphere for purchase. Their latest release is the Waxwork collection and EVERY SINGLE FAN should bow down and thank them for their fine, fine efforts in handling these two classics of the horror/comedy genre.
Directed by Anthony Hickox (Hellraiser III), the Waxwork series is about a group of college-aged friends - Mark Loftmore (Zach Galligan, Gremlins), China Webster (Michelle Johnson), Sarah Brightman (Deborah Foreman), Gemma (Clare Carey), James (Eric Brown) and Tony (Dana Ashbrook) – who get mysteriously invited by an elegant stranger (David Warner, TRON) to tour his wax museum later that night. Of course, they are going to go. And why not? Wouldn’t YOU go check out a horror-themed wax museum after midnight if invited by a vanishing figure? Yes. Yes, you would.
But those rope lines that hang in front of the exhibitions really should not be crossed. I cannot stress that enough. Unfortunately, these young adults don’t adhere to the unspoken rule. They split up and go their own way through the museum, crossing lines and slipping into other realms of existence that are solely about what the exhibition scene depicts. In one, we get a werewolf attack. In another, vampires do the biting. A mummy comes to life in another. With each rope crossed, another person becomes a part of the exhibit when they give in to the reality presented and die. Co-starring J. Kenneth Campbell as Marquis de Sade, Miles O'Keeffe as Count Dracula, and John Rhys-Davies as the werewolf, Waxwork comes alive to munch on its midnight visitors.
It is up to a winged wheelchair-bound Patrick Macnee as Sir Wilfred to get the gang out out of harm’s way. With his assistance, Mark must figure out how to escape the museum and save the girl he so desperately wants to impress. In the wonky finale – shot on the fly in one night due to a number of financial reasons – all sanity is thrown to the wind and an epic battle follows as we are swallowed up by a throng of people and wax figures as swords, guns, and punches are thrown, slung, and fired at the camera.
Only Mark and Sarah don’t escape, well, at least not for long. That zombie hand at the ending of the movie is very telling of just where the series is headed. With Waxwork II: Lost in Time, their happy ending is short-lived.
Along with Sarah (recast with Monika Schnarre from Beverly Hills, 90210 because directors and their stars probably should NOT date), Mark finds himself in a serious time hiccup of sorts. The sequel is, at once, funnier and more expansive in nature than the original as our two leads cross paths with Bruce Campbell and David Carradine while fighting off aliens and zombies in what is perfectly described by Macnee as “God’s video game”. Featuring homages to all things horror, science fiction, and cult, Heaven – as imagined by Hickox and his fearless crew – looks like a kickass place to be. Who knew God loved Evil Dead?! Groovy.
With inventive cinematography by Gerry Lively and brilliant edits from Hickox, both films feel as fresh as the day they were originally unleashed unto this world. For ANY fan of horror, this two-film set – newly remastered with tons of cool bonus bits – is something worthy to invest in.
Waxwork is open once again.
Home Video Distributor: Lionsgate | Vestron Pictures
Available on Blu-ray - October 18, 2016
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0; Music: Dolby Digital 2.0
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A
Offered courtesy of Lionsgate Films and its new handling of the Vestron Video imprint in 1.85:1, the AVC-encoded 1080p transfer of BOTH movies is a relative goldmine of previously unseen details and colors. The details in the monster designs and period piece items are a reason to appreciate the visual “pop” throughout the high definition transfer. The museum and its atmosphere is especially nice. The crisp image quality is the best you’re going to get with a film like this and, admittedly, even a bit better than expected. Some stuff from the same era hasn’t made the HD transition quite as well, but Waxwork looks better than it ever did. Colors are perfect. Blacks are solid. Skin tones are detailed and appropriate. The sound – offered here in a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono track - is decent enough with dialogue and synthesized score pulses.
Waxies (is that a thing?) will want to check out BOTH films and their commentaries as they feature candid comments by director Anthony Hickox and star Zach Galligan. The two are good friends, so it’s good listening as they recall the filming of BOTH movies.
They’ve done it again! How dare they spoil us with NEW supplemental items that showcase the ins and outs of the making of both of these movies? We get isolated scores, and feature-length documentary that examines BOTH movies, some archival pieces, new art, some photos, and all gift-wrapped in a new sleeve. Surely, they are setting us up for disappointment down the line, right? Or does Vestron Video GET what makes B-movies so damned enjoyable on blu-ray?
- Isolated Score and Audio Interview with Composer Roger Bellon
- The Waxwork Chronicles (83 min)
- The Making of Waxwork (24 min)
- Theatrical Trailer
- Photo Gallery (8 min)
Waxwork (1988) Trailer:
Waxwork II (1992) Trailer