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Descend Into Five Vast Worlds of Molten Terror!

PARENTAL WARNING!! Intense Graphic Violence! - A sticker on the game box (They MEAN it)
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After the success of their Elvira-based adventure games, HorrorSoft followed them up in 1992 with another point-and-click horror/adventure in the original IP Waxworks, which is so similar to the Elvira games that it's often considered a spiritual sequel.

The storyline was fairly simple: After the death of your uncle, he leaves you his wax works, a crystal ball, and a letter telling you that you must rid the family of a curse put upon it by Ixona, an evil witch from the distant past, which has affected them whenever twins were born. One twin turns out good, and the other evil. To defeat each evil twin, you must use your uncle's wax works to go back in time to four periods and locations: An Ancient-Egyptian pyramid, Victorian London — in which the evil twin is none other than Jack the Ripper — a cemetery teeming with zombies, and a vast mine shaft filled with plant mutants. If you can destroy the evil twin from each stage, you will be able to enter one final wax work, the Witch's lair, and rid the family of its curse for good. If you need assistance, you can speak to your uncle through the crystal ball for clues and tips.

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But much like the Elvira games, the story is hardly the most memorable aspect. In addition to being Nintendo Hard, the game is notorious for having horrifically realistic and gory death scenes. If this isn't the game with the most disturbing Game Over screens in history, then it is certainly a worthy contender for the title. It actually makes the Elvira games seem somewhat tame by comparison. That said, it's a great point-and-click adventure game. Just prepare like you won't believe... and you may wish to avoid eating during gameplay.

For those interested in the game, a longplay of the Amiga version can be found here, and the game is available for sale as a download at Gog.com.

An Indie-budgeted Video Game Remake of the game developed by Went2Play, Waxworks: Curse of the Ancestors, was released on Steam Early Access on January 8th, 2020, and saw a full release on December 20th, 2021. The remake evolves the game from the original's Eye of the Beholder style grid-based mazes to modern fully three-dimensional environments.

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Not to be confused with the film Waxwork, which had a similar premise.


Tropes:

  • Abandoned Mine: The Mines level. Also counts as a sort of plant version of a Womb Level, as the vines and deadly plants that litter the walls all belong to the evil brother of that level.
  • All There in the Manual: The game came with a short novel that served as both exposition and prologue. It also reveals the witch's name as Ixona, which is never mentioned in the game. Uncle Boris does encourage the player to read it at the beginning of the game instead of jumping right in.
  • All Your Powers Combined: To defeat Ixona the Witch, you have to use various items belonging to the various evil twins you've defeated in the game to battle her.
  • Anachronism Stew: Not too serious, but there are several items that don't belong to the period they're found in:
    • Giant glass panels and tuning forks in ancient Egypt.
    • The graveyard level is supposed to take place after the mineshaft level if you are to believe the plaques. However, in the latter you find a lot of modern technologies — Dynamite, elevators, pneumatic drills and a truck at the end — while there are no traces of such in the former, and even the clothing has more of an 18-19th century style. Averted in the remake, which dates the graveyard as taking place in the late 15th century and the mines as taking place in the 1920s.
  • Ancient Egypt: One of the levels is set inside an Egyptian pyramid.
  • And You Were There: At the very end of the game, when you rescue Alex, he tells you of a horrible dream he had about the witch's curse and how the player was in it.
  • Animal Stereotypes: Invoked twice in the pyramid: One death has you being dragged into the water by a crocodile and eaten, and the other involves snakes crawling out of holes in the wall and one of them biting you.
  • Artistic License – History: The prologue states that the first evil twin born after the witch curses the bloodline became known as Vlad IV, later known as Vlad the Impaler.note 
  • Bad Moon Rising: In the Jack the Ripper segment, the moon looks like a skull. But not, oddly, in the graveyard level.
  • Battle Theme Music: Each location (except for London, which mainly just has the end battle with Jack) has unique music playing during enemy battles, with it being based on the location's theme but faster and more action-oriented than the music which plays while exploring.
  • Big Bad: Ixona casted the curse on your family centuries ago, leading to you having to go through the waxworks to break it.
  • Big Brother Instinct: The other goal of the game besides lifting the curse is to recover your twin brother's soul and save him.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: While the game isn't a true sequel to the Elvira games, it's similar enough that it might as well be, and is a lot gorier than either of them — and keep in mind, they were no slouches in the gore department, either.
  • Body Horror: Those plant mutants in the mine? They used to be human. The worst case of this is your twin brother, who is so badly mutated that he doesn't look even remotely human anymore. And of course, this trope can happen to you — especially the tongue mutant death.
  • Botanical Abomination: All the plant mutants in the mine have leaf-like skin and odd mutations which come individually. Your twin brother is easily the worst, as his vines are all over the walls and he doesn't even remotely look like a human.
  • Cain and Abel: Your family was cursed so that one of every set of twins becomes evil, and you have to go back in time using the titular waxworks building to kill the worst of them and break the curse. Your own brother is incapacitated before and throughout the game, and part of your goal is to save him, but other than this, the "evil twin" aspect isn't played up much: the evil brothers of the past include Jack the Ripper, a necromancer who looks far older than his good twin, and a human/fungus mutant who doesn't even resemble a human anymore. Then you get to the ending, however, and the "evil twin" aspect comes back to hit you in the face in full force.
  • Cartography Sidequest: You get experience for each part of the map visited in an area. This is the only way to level up in London.
  • Catching Some Z's: The pause icon is represented by three zs, making it clear it's there if you need a break (potentially for sleep).
  • Circling Birdies: If you're getting hit from behind, you'll see stars to indicate it.
  • Copy Protection: At the start of the game, your uncle's assistant asks for your ticket. You must then supply a ticket number based on four words and images.
  • Covers Always Lie: See that melting candle comprised of creepy faces up there? Nothing even resembling it appears in the game.
  • Creepy Good: The butler. Yes, his sinister face and big frame are intimidating, and he can push you away, but he doesn't intend to harm you, is supportive of your mission, and gives you the crystal ball to talk to your uncle.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Dear God, this game is chock-full of them. Many of which are legitimately disturbing.
  • Crystal Ball: You speak to your dead uncle through the green crystal ball to ask for help and advice at the cost of psychic energy.
  • Cue the Sun: The ending of the Egyptian wax work will have you and the Princess leave the maze just in time to watch the sun rise over the Pyramids.
  • Cutscene Boss: The Necromancer evil twin is defeated simply by touching him, allowing the spirits of Boris and your ancestors to neutralize his magic.
  • Daylight Horror: The only waxworks that take place during the day are the Mine and Witch scenarios. Both the Graveyard and London ones are set at night, and the Ancient Egypt one takes place during a single night. The sun sets just as you enter the pyramid, and rises as you leave.
  • Deadly Gas: Used as a trap in the pyramids, and a plant in the underground mine can release noxious fumes.
  • Death by Irony: Up to Eleven according to the prologue. After the witch places the curse, she is later killed by the first evil twin for refusing to lift the curse. The irony then goes up to infinity and beyond in the ending after it is revealed you've been playing as the evil twin all along and Alex is actually the good twin. That means the last evil twin got to her before she was even able to cast the curse to begin with.
    • The prologue also explains that the first twin had Ixona imprisoned and repeatedly tortured before finally having her executed, the latter of which took two whole days for her to finally die, during which time the snakes and snapping turtles in the surrounding bog slowly ate away at her still-living flesh, which could be seen as an example of Karmic Death.
  • Disney Villain Death: Jack the Ripper meets his end with a variation of this at the end of the London stage — he's impaled through the chest, falling off a high dock and into the River Thames as he dies.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Long ago, one of your ancestors cut the hand off of a witch for attempting to steal his chickens. Her curse in revenge was to condemn one of every set of twins born to the family to serve Beelzebub and become evil.
  • Dracula: There's a dead ringer for the classic vampire in the graveyard level.
  • Duel Boss: Your one-on-one duel against Jack the Ripper is probably the lengthiest and most involved fight in the game.
  • The End: The words show up in red after the ending credits.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: The fact that you, the evil twin, are going to hell and back numerous times to save your twin brother and prevent the curse from starting says a lot about the protagonist.
  • Everything's Deader with Zombies: The Graveyard waxwork is teeming with the undead, and the best way to kill them is by lopping their arms and heads off with a sickle you find.
  • Eye Scream: Quite a few of the deaths depict ocular damage.
    • The only way to defeat the last boss is to utterly mutilate her with a barrage of attacks, including shooting a crossbow bolt through her eye.
    • In the mine scenario, to incapacitate your horribly mutated twin brother, you have to locate and stab out all of its seven or eight eyes with a rail.
  • Facial Horror: A lot of the deaths involve horrible things happening to your face. Also, the two zombie models in the Graveyard waxwork have decomposed faces that are pretty unsightly, to say the least.
  • Fan Disservice: At one point in the Graveyard level, you find a relatively good-looking woman with impressive cleavage. Unfortunately, she's dead, there's a huge open hole in her chest, and you can take her heart from it to use it for a healing spell.
  • Gameplay Roulette: Each level has its own style of play. The pyramid is based around puzzles and traps, Victorian London is stealth and evasion, the graveyard is the most action-packed, and the mine is almost like a pre-Resident Evil as you traverse a mine shaft full of plant mutants. The best weapon against them is the chemical thrower, but it has limited fuel and you must go to a certain spot on the map to refuel it.
  • Gorn: Saw has nothing on this game.
  • Hanging Around: How you die if you try to get the police to help you in Victorian London. They mistake you for the evil twin, Jack the Ripper based on unfortunate family resemblance, promptly arrest you, and then you’re bundled off to the gallows.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: See Death by Irony above and Impaled with Extreme Prejudice below.
  • Kaizo Trap: In the mines, you might be tempted to prime the TNT right away after you supposedly defeat the Evil Twin, thinking that doing so will invoke a Timed Mission, or maybe Take Your Time. That is most definitely not the case, as you only have a few seconds before the TNT explodes and collapses the mine.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: According to the prologue and the waxwork itself, this is how Vlad the Impaler, the first evil twin, killed Ixona after she refuses to lift the curse.
  • Indy Escape: There are a couple of giant boulders in the Egyptian levels that you must dodge or be crushed by.
  • Live Item: When the soldier and the doctor from the mine waxwork come with you, they're added to your inventory represented by their faces.
  • The Many Deaths of You: You would be hard-pressed to find a better — and more disturbing — example of this trope.
  • Menacing Museum: Takes place inside a waxworks museum bequeathed to you by your late uncle. By itself, it's not actually dangerous, though it's undeniably disturbing thanks to the morbid historical displays and the creepy butler patrolling the building. But because of your uncle's mission to stop the Evil Twins of the family, the museum's exhibits become portals through time, leading you to mediaeval graveyards infested by the undead, booby-trapped Egyptian pyramids, Whitechapel at the height of Jack the Ripper's reign of terror, and a mine plagued by mutant Body Horror.
  • The Needs of the Many: The injured man destroyed the elevator controls to prevent the plant mutants from escaping the mine and hurting people in the village, while also hampering the chances for several people still inside. When he's informed about the latter part, he quotes the trope name.
  • Never Smile at a Crocodile: Trying to take water in the pyramid results in you getting caught and eaten by a crocodile. It has to be lured out and killed first.
  • Nintendo Hard: Just like the Elvira games, Waxworks is very difficult, thanks to the puzzles and unwieldy combat system.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: The final boss fight with the witch, as you already have all the items you possibly need in order to defeat her.
  • No Kill Like Overkill: How the last evil twin kills Ixona the witch during the climax before she can cast her curse. Let's see, a glass vial of acidic poison to the face, her hand getting chopped off, a crossbow bolt through the eye, and being stabbed multiple times through the throat.
  • Off with His Head!: Should you lose a fight with one of the Egyptian priests in the pyramid level, his final swing will take your head clean off. Also, in the mine level, one of the obstacles is a set of sentient vines, which, should you fail to evade them, will entangle you and rip off both your head and one of your arms.
  • Police Are Useless: Go ahead, try to have the policemen roaming around the Victorian level help you. Too bad you look much like their suspect, your twin brother.
  • Porn Stache: Oddly enough, one of the zombie models in the Graveyard waxwork is sporting one of these.
  • Rapid Aging: Vladimir's spell makes the playable character turn much older before he dies.
  • Press X to Die: In the Egyptian pyramid, you can find an option that lets you knock down a supporting pillar. Take a wild guess what happens when you do it.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: For many players, the vicious brutality they inflict on the witch at the climax is payback for the many gruesome deaths they undoubtedly suffered up to that point. Also character-wise, as it is your twin you're trying to save and the game makes it very clear nothing is going to stop you from doing so. Up to Eleven and then some if you consider you're trying to save the good twin.
  • Shout-Out: The part in the pyramid where the snakes come out of holes in the wall is very similar to an infamous scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark. No snakes slithering out of human skulls, thankfully.
  • Shown Their Work: The layout of the streets and their names in the London stage matches fairly well the real Whitechapel area where Jack the Ripper's victims were found.
  • Skeleton Key: One of the items found in London is a skeleton key which can be used on most locked doors.
  • Slashed Throat: Jack the Ripper's specialty. In the London Waxwork, the first thing you see is a girl whose throat was slit. The same happens to you if you lose the fight with Jack.
  • Spikes of Doom: One of the deaths in the pyramid involves a very nasty encounter with a spike pit.
  • Temple of Doom: The Egyptian level, which is filled with traps and puzzles made to kill the player instantly. Unlike most examples of this trope though, the player is entering it in ancient times instead of thousands of years later.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: You're the evil twin.
  • Trial-and-Error Gameplay: You WILL die. A lot.
  • Two-Faced: One of the zombies in the Graveyard waxwork is missing the flesh on one side of his face, exposing the skull.
  • Victorian London: One of the levels is set here.
  • Witch Hunt: There is a mob searching for Jack the Ripper. If the player comes across them, they'll mistake the player as the killer and beat him to death.
  • Zero-Effort Boss: The High Priest of Anubis from the Pyramid waxwork. He's no harder to defeat than his servants, and by the time you fight him you should have a spear, the strongest weapon in that waxwork.

Tropes specific to the remake:

  • Adaptation Expansion: Many of the characters you meet now have actual names, rather than simply being "the soldier", "the doctor", "the vampire", etc.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: The vampire in the remake actually greets you civilly, agrees with you about how annoying the local zombie infestation is, and allows you to explore the chapel, only attacking you if you repeatedly mess around with the hidden switch that opens the door to the Necromancer's hideout.
  • Adaptational Wimp: While in the original game an angry mob of citizens was an advancing wall of doom that you had to run away from, in this game they're just a group of two or three unarmed chaps in bowler hats who behave like regular enemies and who you can just kill with your machete.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: Some of the Press X to Die instant deaths (such as being killed simply for examining the wrong coffin in the crypt) have been removed from the game, resulting in a lot less Trial-and-Error Gameplay. Though the game does retain some instant deaths that occur with little-or-no warning, such as the runaway mine cart in the mines.
  • King Mook: As in the original game, the High Priest of Anubis fights just like a regular enemy and isn't noticeably tougher. Though the fight can still be challenging as healing items are unusually scarce in the Pyramid waxworks, so it's possible you'll have to fight him with barely any health.
  • Lighter and Softer: The remake has quite a bit less Gorn than the original, most notably missing the very graphic game over death screens.
  • Playing Tennis with the Boss: The Necromancer, instead of being a Cutscene Boss as in the original, instead teleports around the graveyard casting energy balls at you, which you need to knock back at him with your own magic staff.
  • Power Floats: The Witch floats through the air in a spectral manner while chasing you around the museum.
  • Puzzle Boss: While in the original game the Witch was more of a point-and-click adventure game confrontation, here she actually appears in the museum and attacks you as a regular enemy. However, she has far too many hit points to kill normally, and you need to figure out a way to make her vulnerable.
  • Sliding Scale of Linearity vs. Openness: Unlike the original game in which the waxworks could be tackled in any order, in the remake you're forced to do them in a specific order (Cemetary, Mines, Pyramid, London).
  • Sociopathic Hero: Unlike the original game where the London Police and angry citizen mobs were obstacles to be avoided, in the remake they're regular enemies you can fight and kill. It's entirely possible to have a far higher body count than Jack the Ripper himself by the end of the night. Particularly odd as the game makes it explicit that Alex is the evil twin, while the original game implied it might actually be you, which would at least make this make a little more sense.
  • Video Game Remake: Waxworks: Curse of the Ancestors, released in 2021 with modern 3D graphics and environments, more user-friendly design choices, and voice acting. A 5th waxwork level called Ixona's Forest was originally planned, but in the final release this was cut and the Witch simply attacks you in the museum after you clear the 4 waxworks.


Alternative Title(s): Wax Works

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