PLOT: The owner of an enchanted wax museum lures local teens into his exhibit in order to unleash an evil onto the world.
Waxwork is kind of uneven. On the surface, it seems like it could easily be a fun, PG-13 rated horror film that young horror fans could dip their feet into without their parents worrying too much about the content. I mean, we’re talking about evil wax museum displays here; it’s not exactly the “elevated horror” of today’s Hollywood. But then, you’ve got a weird undertone of slut and kink shaming that comes out of nowhere, mixed with a tone that takes itself a bit too seriously, and you’re left with a movie that, while enjoyable, probably could have benefited by a little bit more humor.
Waxwork tells the story of a group of teens bored out of their minds in the suburbs whom happen upon a mysterious wax work house that seemingly sprouted up out of nowhere. I’m unfamiliar with any wax museum that isn’t named Madame Tussaud, so I’m not positive if wax museums were more of a thing back in the 1980s or not.
Anyway, the teens, including Gremlins star Zach Galligan, show up as the only guests to a private showing of the wax museum displays. It isn’t long before the teens venture on their own into the exhibition room and get drawn into a dimension in which the wax displays come to life, but getting back into the real world proves difficult. Before you know it, these teens are uncovering an evil plan to bring about an evil the likes of which this world has never seen before.
This movie is decent, for the most part, but as mentioned, I was yearning for it to just be a little bit sillier. It has its moments, but the humor just isn’t that fun and once the character Tony, the comic relief, makes his exit, the movie never really tries to replace him. It kind of turns the second half into a movie that plays it oddly straight and, tonally, seems off.
In addition, while this didn’t really change how I felt about this movie, there became a very puritanical tone in this film in relation to sex. Sex is an overt topic of this film, from the character China fully embracing her own sexuality to Sarah repressing her desires and then, for some reason, this movie takes the time to turn Sarah’s possible kinks into some sort of evil. I’m not going to deconstruct what this means on a philosophical level, but it just struck me as an odd tone for this film to take.
This is a breezy movie and it’s a decent watch. It doesn’t exactly reach iconic status, but it has some decent effects, worthwhile performances, and enough familiar faces to keep you interested. With each wax display, it almost feels like a handful of short stories, which manages to keep the runtime moving.