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Film / Waxwork

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Waxwork is a horror comedy released in 1988 starring Zach Gallifan, David Warner, Patrick Macnee, Deborah Foreman, Dana Ashbrook, J. Kenneth Campbell, and John Rhys-Davies.

A mysterious wax museum shows up in a suburban neighborhood one night. Mark and his friends are naturally curious about it, but they soon find out the owner's true intentions. It turns out anyone who enters the museum dies after being sucked into one of the displays. When the right amount of people die in the museum, all of the waxworks will come to life and help the owner take over the world.

Thankfully, Mark's grandfather and his friends have been on the owner's tail for decades and are ready to help Mark and his girlfriend, Sarah, fight against the waxworks.

A sequel, Waxwork II: Lost in Time, was released in 1992. It takes place immediately after the first film, with Sarah's father being murdered by a wax hand that escaped destruction hours before. Sarah's case for her innocence looks bad, thanks to no one believing her and Mark's claims about the wax museum or disembodied hands. When they go to Sir Wilfred's mansion, they find a magic compass that allows them to travel through time. Believing it can be used to get evidence for the trial, the two of them start going through time and space while ending up in sci-fi and horror film parodies along the way.

Despite its name and setting, the video game Waxworks (1992) has nothing to do with the films, nor does this film have anything to do with Waxworks.

This contains examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Sarah's dad despises her because she reminds him of her mother, so he's constantly screaming at and hitting her.
  • Actor Allusion: "What the hell am I gonna feed him at this hour?"
  • Affably Evil:
    • Lincoln is nothing but friendly, polite and refined. He may be trying to end the world, but it's all because someone has to. None of his pleasantry and elegance are fake and his brief rage at his henchman for killing a potential sacrifice turns apologetic when he sees he actually hurt the guy's feelings.
    • Count Dracula is nothing but calm, charismatic and just as charming as Lincoln.
  • All Myths Are True: Or rather, all horror villains are real. When Mark is traveling through time in the second movie, he encounters Mr. Hyde, Dr. Frankenstein and his monster, Count Orlok, and others.
    David Lincoln: They made a movie about the Phantom of the Opera?
  • Ancient Tomb: The cop investigating the wax museum ends up in the Mummy's tomb exhibit.
  • And the Adventure Continues: The second movie ends this way, with Sarah using the compass to return to Mark in the past after being exonerated.
  • Art Shift:
  • Asshole Victim: Jack the Ripper is killed offscreen by Orlok.
  • Big Bad: David Lincoln in the first film, Scarabis in the sequel.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Upon the rising of the Waxworks' figures, Sir Wilfred shows up with a full force ready to fight to stop the escape of the villains.
  • Bondage Is Bad: Sarah is forced into a bondage act in the first film, but she actually enjoys it.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Lincoln is bombastically dedicated to evil as only David Warner can provide. His reason for ending the world? "Someone has to!"
  • Casting Gag: The speaker for the jury in Waxwork II is played by Stanley Sheff, who directed this film's director Anthony Hickox in Lobster Man from Mars a few years earlier. A clip can be seen playing on the TV in the Brightman household when Sarah returns home at the start of the film.
  • Clever Crows: In the sequel, Sir Wilfred appears as a raven to Mark when he needs a helping hand (or beak).
  • Damsel in Distress: Sarah is one at first, but gradually becomes an Action Girl.
  • Deal with the Devil: Lincoln made a pact with the devil for power and knowledge with the end of the world as his offering.
  • Depraved Dwarf: The miniature butler who works for the Big Bad.
  • Everything's Deader with Zombies: Zombies are included in the exhibits of the first movie. Zombies appear again in the second movie in one of the alternate timelines reminiscent of Dawn of the Dead (1978).
  • Face–Heel Turn / Transhuman Treachery: All of the victims that are killed in an exhibit get turned into one of that exhibit's waxwork monsters, and come to life along with all the other evil waxworks once the ritual is completed. Most notable being China, one of Mark and Sarah's friends, who died in the Dracula exhibit, and now an evil vampire herself, nearly sinks her fangs into Mark. The other victims come back as a werewolf, a zombie, etc. Even the Marquis de Sade's victim comes back as an evil harem girl.
  • Face-Revealing Turn: In the Dracula exhibit when China finishes staking the last of Dracula's brides to save her character's lover. However, she knocks one of the girls onto him. When China pulls her off, the bride has finished draining the lover's blood and the previously-helpful lover bears his fangs and hisses at her.
  • Flynning: Most of Mark's duel with de Sade is like this, at least so long as de Sade is toying with him.
  • Gorn: In both movies.
  • Helping Hands: The wax hand that kills Sarah's dad, of course!
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: Done to Marquis de Sade, who is now one of the most evil men ever existed.
  • Incongruously-Dressed Zombie: The disco undead from one of the second film's alternate worlds.
  • Knight of Cerebus: The Marquis de Sade. His abuse of Sarah is most certainly not Played for Laughs, nor are his promises to turn her over to the Prince of England to be used and further abused. Sarah's fascination with him that ultimately leads to him nearly breaking her is a major source of serious drama in what's an otherwise light-hearted movie.
  • Mercy Kill: How Tony dies in the werewolf display. A hunter and his son arrive too late to prevent him from being bitten. After the hunter manages to shoot the main werewolf, Tony starts turning himself to which the hunter shoots him too.
  • Must Have Caffeine: Mark's need for caffeine is introduced early in the first film, then it's promptly dropped.
  • No More for Me: When Mark and Scarabis pass through his dimension, Mr. Hyde looks suspiciously at the bottle of elixir that had just transformed him from Dr. Jekyll.
  • Noodle Incident: When Tony ends up in the werewolf display, he first asks who slipped acid into his drink again.
  • Painful Transformation: Tony when he get bitten in the werewolf display, he starts to transform not long after the main werewolf is killed and it indeed looks painful as he forms fangs, his fingernails grow and his forehead start bulging as his voice switches between anguished groans and growling.
  • Pet the Dog: Lincoln flips out at his bodyguard for killing the cop, and promptly apologizes and comforts him when he sees that he's visibly upset.
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure: "They made a movie about the Phantom of the Opera?"
  • Rich in Dollars, Poor in Sense: Mark is absolutely loaded, but not exactly the brightest, at least at first. His idea of dealing with a 40 page essay on dictators is to outsource it to his maid, whose English is terrible. Hilarity predictably ensues.
  • The Secret of Long Pork Pies: Dracula serves his guests a meal of what he claims is steak tartare with red sauce.
  • Sequel Hook: The wax hand that survived the destruction of the museum in the first film.
  • Smug Snake: Scarabis. His plan to Kill and Replace the king falls apart when one of the men notices he's not wearing his crest ring.
  • Super Wheelchair: Sir Wilfred has an armored one with a bulldozer-like front in the first movie's big battle scene. (It's an obvious very cheap cardboard shell around a normal motorized wheelchair, but that actually makes it funnier.)
  • Sword Fight:
    • The Marquis de Sade, smarting over Mark's humiliation of him, forces a sword fight to see who's "the better man."
    • Mark duels Scarabis through alternative time periods in the climactic fight of the second film.
  • Too Kinky to Torture: Sarah, surprisingly. Underneath her sweet demeanor, she's fascinated by the Marquis de Sade and when violently whipped by him, she's enjoying it so much she initially refuses to leave the exhibit with Mark.
  • Tragic Monster: The werewolf is implied to be infected and unable to control himself. When Tony meets his human guise, the man frantically begs him to run from the cabin before it's too late.
  • Transhuman Treachery:
    • Being killed in an exhibit corrupts the victim into a monster. China ends up becoming a vampire who tries to sink her teeth into Mark and Tony turns into a savage werewolf.
    • The werewolf's human form seems a kind man who begs Tony (in-character as "Jack," whose father was the werewolf's best friend) to flee from the isolated cabin in the woods. Sadly, upon transforming, it turns out the werewolf is vicious, sadistic and gleeful to murder anyone nearby.
  • Whole Costume Reference: Although not necessarily matching any specific film, Mark's and Scarabis's outfits during their duel-across-dimensions always shift to suit their surroundings, and exactly conform to what a hero and a villain, respectively, would wear in the film genre that particular reality represents (e.g. white Travolta disco suit vs denim-clad biker in the '70s zombie mall, proper tuxedo vs seedy longcoat and eyepatch in Jack the Ripper London, etc).
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: How the wax exhibit traps work. The exhibit makes the victim believe the whole thing is real to trap them there until the monsters within can kill them. However if the victim can convince themselves it's not real, the monsters can't touch them and they can escape.
    • Wrong Genre Savvy: Mark thinks this rule is in effect in the sequel and gets clobbered in the face. Turns out he's not in the Kansas wax museum anymore.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Waxwork II Lost In Time


Waxwork [Tony's Werewolf Turn]

Waxworks (1988): A new waxwork museum opens in the town of our protagonists which they decide to check out. However they are unaware that the exhibits have been enchanted to host sub-worlds with monsters within to kill them and make them part of the exhibit. Tony is one such victim when he falls into a exhibit featuring a werewolf and gets bitten. Just as the hunter of that world kill the main wolf, Tony starts to transform himself.

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Example of:

Main / PainfulTransformation

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