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Old 10-26-2008, 08:41 AM
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Waxwork (R2)




Reviewer: Dave
Review Date: December 22, 2002

Released by: Columbia Tri-Star (UK)
Release date: 9/17/2001
MSRP: 19.99
Region 2, PAL
Full Frame 1.33:1 | 16x9: No
1988




What hopes are there for a Region 1 DVD? Unfortunately, Vestron Video - the company that created Waxwork - has gone out of business. I believe the rights for this particular now belong to either Artisan or Columbia Tri-Star. Unfortunately, neither studio has a good track record when it comes to horror DVD releases (they both do fine transfers, but seems to be against OAR and special editions now). So, lets take a look at the R2 DVD and see if an R1 release is even needed.


The Story

inline Image Mark Loftmore (Zach Galligan) is your every day college student, with the exception being that he's rich, or at least his snobby mother is. Two of Mark's friends - China (Michelle Johnson) and Sarah (Deborah Foreman) - are invited to attend the midnight premiere of a waxwork that just opened. China and Sarah are a bit perplexed by the waxwork, which seems to have appeared out of nowhere and had been placed in very bad location to be - right in the middle of the suburbs. Still, China seems to have the hots for the owner of the waxwork, Mr. Lincoln (David Warner), so she convinces Sarah into going.

inline ImageDeborah is admitted to the hospital under the care of Sheila Munroe (Linda Purl). China and Sarah were told to bring no more than six people total to the premiere, so they invite Mark and three other friends - Tony (Dana Ashbrook), James (Eric Brown) and Gemma (Clare Carey). Midnight comes and the group heads over to the waxwork, which they find to be quite scary looking late at night. James and Gemma chicken out and head home; the rest of the group continues on. They're greeted by a midget butler who seats them into a waiting room. After a few minutes the entrance to the waxwork mysteriously opens on its own and they make their way in.

inline Image Inside the waxwork they break up and go about looking at the exhibits. The exhibits, which are frighteningly realistic, are all morbid - each one dealing with some kind of death or hideous monster. Tony is the first one to make the mistake of entering one of the roped off exhibits, which instantly transports him into the actual environment of the exhibit - a werewolf inside of a cabin. China is next, transporting to a castle of vampires. The wax monsters are no longer wax for Tony and China - they're real. When Mark and Sarah realize their friends are missing, they head home thinking their friends ditched them.

inline Image When Tony and China don't show up at school the next day, Mark quickly realizes something is wrong. He goes to the police, who prove to be no help. Then he takes Sarah to see Sir. Wilfred (Patrick Macnee), a friend of his late grandfather. They tell him their story of the waxwork and its owner, Mr. Lincoln. Sir. Wilfred tells them that Mr. Lincoln is a disciple of Satan, trying to resurrect eighteen of the most evil beings to ever to walk the earth. By recreating a waxwork exhibit for each evil person and the environment they lived in, and then feeding them the soul of a living human, Mr. Lincoln can bring them back to life once all eighteen are complete. Mark and Sarah don't have much time - only two more exhibits need souls. They must burn the waxwork before Mr. Lincoln succeeds with his plans. But when they return, burning it proves to be more than difficult when each of them is thrown into an exhibit, one full of zombies, the other full of torturers. Can they escape the exhibits? Or are they destined to be the two that complete the cycle?

inline Image I love the movie Waxwork. It's not one that I just file into the "guilty pleasure" category. I think its a great movie in its own right. It certainly has its share of problems, which I'll discuss, but the good definitely outweighs the bad here. Certainly the highlight is when the various characters get transported into the waxwork environments. In these environments you'll witness a variety of horror delights - werewolves, mummies, the living dead, vampires and more. While each sequence only last a matter of 5 minutes or so, they're quick and to the point. No real story to deal with, just monsters, killings and gore!

inline Image Speaking of gore, I have to say that given the large variety of monsters and the fact that this was a low budget movie, I was really impressed with the special effects. I've read some people complaining about them, but I can't figure out why. They look great to me. Sure, some of the monsters are obviously just rubber masks, but there's some good gore and makeup effects. This DVD is indeed the unrated and "uncensored" edition, so you do get to see some additional gore (NOTE: There's also an unrated VHS, as well as an R rated VHS). My only complaint with "effects" is in the waxwork museum itself - those "frighteningly realistic" waxwork figures are obviously real human actors simply trying to hold a pose. The fact you can SEE them moving when they aren't supposed to be kinda proves it...

inline Image Outside of the waxwork environments is when the movie strays into bad territory. You have to deal with this boring, annoying and just plain stupid plot that tries to explain why the waxwork is the way it is. Type typical good versus evil battle where the end of the world is at stake. I really wish some movies would either not bother with a plot, or try to come up with something decent. It doesn't have to be great, just decent. I would've much preferred to see more time spent in the waxwork environments, then coming up with a small story to explain it all. The ending isn't too hot either. It definitely has a rushed feel to it to try and raps things up too quickly. At least it leads into a sequel that I did enjoy - Waxwork II: Lost in Time.

inline Image If you haven't seen Waxwork, definitely give it a try. I really enjoyed it, and definitely recommend it. I really do enjoy the waxworks coming to life idea. Plus the movie pays homage to so many classic horror movies and directors. In the rolling credits you'll see:

Dedicated to:
Hammer, Argento, Romero, Dante, Landis, Spielberg, Wells, Carpenter, Mum and Dad. And Many More...


The living dead waxwork environment is my favorite - it's even filmed in black and white. What better way to pay homage to George Romero's classic, Night of the Living Dead?

Image Quality

inline ImageWaxwork fans have a reason to rejoice! This Waxwork DVD offers a vastly superior transfer over the past VHS and laserdisc releases. The transfer on this DVD provides a much higher resolution, resulting in a sharper and clearer picture. There are several scenes that are soft and lacking in detail, however. Grain is significantly reduced, and there are only a handful of nicks and other print blemishes that briefly appear. Colors are more vibrant than the laserdisc and VHS, but still appear a bit subdued. Overall this is a solid transfer. I'm rating it with a B-.

Sound

The Dolby 2.0 track appears to be identical to laserdisc. There's some nice separation on the fronts. The sound is crisp and distortion free; dialogue was clearly audible at all times.

Supplemental Material

inline Image I would just love to hear a director's commentary track for Waxwork. Sadly, it doesn't yet exist. As for what is here: Nothing great in the supplements department, but it's nice to see at least a trailer included. There's also filmographies for the cast and crew.

Final Thoughts

Waxwork is a great horror movie that pays homages to many directors and their movies. Let me forewarn you that the plot isn't all that great. What is great are the waxwork environment sequences, the monsters in them and the makeup/gore effects. I highly recommend everyone give it a try.

With this R2 DVD release, yet another laserdisc in my collection becomes retired. Many R2 DVDs can be troublesome, only because there are so many companies out there releasing inferior product that results in an artifact filled transfer (the same can apply to R1 DVDs, of course). Fortunately, this Waxwork DVD comes from Columbia Tri-Star UK. As such, the quality is top notch. Also, since I know I'll be emailed on this, let me state right here and now that as far as I can tell, this is indeed the Unrated version of Waxwork. All of the reader feedback I've received seems to confirm that as well.

Rating

.
Movie - B

Image Quality - B-

Sound - A-

Supplements - C





Technical Info.
  • Color
  • Running time - 1 hour 33 minutes
  • Rated 18
  • 1 Disc
  • Chapter Stops
  • Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround

Supplements
  • Trailer
  • Filmographies

Other Pictures

 

 

Extras
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