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DVD Reviews

HTF REVIEW: Waxwork/Waxwork 2



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#1 of 56 OFFLINE   Michael Elliott

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Posted September 05 2003 - 07:42 AM

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Waxwork/Waxwork 2






Studio: Artisan
Year: 1988/1992
Rated: R
Film Length: 97/104 minutes
Aspect Ratio: Standard (1.33:1)
Audio: DD 2.0 Stereo Surround (both films)
Subtitles: English (both films)




Most horror fans growing up during the 1980’s were too young to check their favorite slashers out on the big screen so those weekend trips to the rental house is where he got our entertainment. The 80’s was a blessing and a curse for horror fans because while there were some classic films these here opened the floodgates to some of the worst films ever made, which usually went straight to video. Some of the straight to video stuff was actually pretty good but most of the time they were simply forgotten.

I first stumbled upon Waxwork on Cinemax, which was a horror fiends best friend. I had heard that this was a very good, old fashioned horror film that had all of the good stuff. I don’t believe the film ever got a theatrical release, although some claim that it did. Either way, this is the perfect example of a film finding its core audience on video and cable showings. Fourteen years after being made Waxwork has built a huge cult following. Of course, since there were fans producer’s got the idea for a sequel, which happened six years later in Waxwork 2: Lost in Time.

In the first film a group of teenagers are invited to a special midnight screening of a new wax museum being hosted by Mr. Lincoln (David Warner). The six friends show up and immediately split up to look at the exhibits. These aren’t your typical Vincent Price wax figures though, each one tells a different story of death and murder and when the guests cross the ropes they are transported to the strange and deadly world, which the exhibits showed.

Tony (Dana Ashbrook) crosses the ropes and enters the world of werewolves. The slut China (Michele Johnson) gets her wishes granted when she is thrown into a beautiful castle with a beautiful man but unfortunately this man turns out to be Count Dracula himself. When the two don’t show up at school the next day their friends decide to go to the police who turn out to be no help at all. So, with nothing left to lose they travel back to the wax museum where more horror stories come to life.

Waxwork is a decent little chiller, which certainly deserves the cult following its gotten over the past decade or so. The film is far from perfect but God knows the horror community has had to suffer through a lot worse. While there are some bad things in the film the good outweigh them, which makes the film worth viewing. The best thing about the movie is the short stories that deal with the characters going back to deal with various monsters ranging from vampires, werewolves, mummies and even the living dead. These segments are very short, which is a good thing because they leave the story behind and get down to the action, which is delivered in good gory fun.

Another good aspect is the actual effects, which are pretty damn good especially considering the budget of the film. The werewolf transformation, while not in the same league as The Howling, is still very good looking. The best sequence is the one dealing with the mummy, which is full of wonderful atmosphere and a good little chill as the mummy comes to life. The one bad thing about the movie is all the time spent outside the wax museum. The very stupid plot about the investigation is useless, boring and takes away from all the fun. Had the film been trimmed by ten or fifteen minutes Waxwork would have been a lot better.

Waxwork 2 has very little to do with the first film and how the two are tired together is fairly weak. The two survivors from the first film think they are safe but a hand escaped the wax museum and followed them home. That night the hand kills Sarah’s stepfather and she is accused for the murder, which also ties her to the wax museum so she is changed with killing those people. The court isn’t buying the hand thing so Sarah along with Mark must travel back in time to collect evidence to clear her.

This here is where the film takes off but instead of wax figures we are dealt several short stories that try to pay homage to previous horror classics. The first adventure has the due battling Dr. Frankenstein and his deformed monster. Up next we get a spoof of Robert Wise’s The Haunting as well as a Aliens spin. Dawn of the Dead, Nosferatu, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Jack the Ripper are amongst the spoofs here. The film pays homage to at least fifteen other horror classics as well.

I’m really not sure what to say about Waxwork 2. For starters, the film is pretty much far away from the original film so I’m guessing the title was just thrown on there to attract fans of the first film. This film has some very good moments but the thing simply runs way too long. This movie should have ran no longer than 80-minutes but instead we get 105-minutes worth of spoofs, which sometimes work but more often than not they fall flat on their face. There’s some gory action, which is fun but we’ve still got way too much to sit through just for that. Fans of the Evil Dead series will enjoy the cameo by Bruce Campbell.


NOTE: The first film was released in America on VHS in an R-rated version as well as an unrated version, which runs a little longer and contains some extra gore. This unrated version is also available on R2 from Dragon. This Artisan disc is the R-rated version however. Update 9/12/03: I finally found someone who could give me the total runtime on the uncut LD and it runs the exact same time as what's on this DVD. The LD did run seven seconds longer but this was just promo stuff and nothing to do with the film. So, the DVD is uncut.


VIDEO---Both films are shown full frame (4:3), which I believe is the correct ratio. I know for certain that the second film was shot this way but there has been some debate over the first films aspect ratio. If it did get a theatrical release I’m guessing it was just matted and that the video releases are open matte. I was pleasantly surprised to see Waxwork looking so good. This here is certainly a lot better than the VHS and countless airings on network television. The colors are fairly strong throughout, although a few scenes appear a bit soft. The Dracula segment has the softest looking colors. There’s some speckles that appear throughout the film but this are rather small and aren’t distracting at all. Grain is also very light here, which wasn’t the case for previous releases. The second film also looks very good but the transfer is a bit too soft. There are a few speckles that appear and a couple of the scenes (especially in the Frankenstein segment) appear a little too dark.

AUDIO---Both films come with Dolby 2.0 Stereo Surround tracks. You certainly won’t be using these to show off your Home Theater System but what we have here is pretty nice. Both tracks are free of any hiss or scratches and the dialogue is clear and easy to understand.

EXTRAS---You get an insert if that means anything to you.

OVERALL---I know many people will be unhappy that the unrated version wasn’t released but personally I really don’t think it makes a major difference in the film. Plus, you’re getting two movies for under $10 so if you’re a fan I’m sure you’ll want this double feature in your collection. Both films feature a nice transfer and the audio is fine as well. No extras are included but again, for the price tag you really can’t be too disappointed.


Release Date: September 23, 2003

#2 of 56 OFFLINE   Andy Olivera

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Posted September 05 2003 - 08:43 AM

Dammit! Posted Image

I forgot this was coming up and I was ready to go order it straight away, too. I figured it'll at least enable me to retire my old VHS copy, but Artisan had to screw it up and include the wrong version. Though I'm tempted to get it just to see what was cut from the unrated version, I refuse to support Artisan by purchasing a screwed up DVD. Posted Image
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#3 of 56 OFFLINE   ChrisBEA

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Posted September 05 2003 - 09:59 AM

First, nice review, I have heard of Waxwork, but have never seen it, I may have to go check it out..

Second:
[quote] I refuse to support Artisan by purchasing a screwed up DVD. [quote]

How you figure it's screwed up? There is nothing in the review indicating that there are major audio/video screwups. 2 versions of the film were created. The R rated will be fine with me, it's been my experience with these horror films that the difference is so inconsequential that it really has no impact on the film proper.

Just me playing devil's advocate....
When available I tend to get the UR versions.

#4 of 56 OFFLINE   Scott Calvert

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Posted September 05 2003 - 11:02 AM

Waxwork did indeed get a theatrical release, albeit a very short one. I was in 8th grade and living in LA at the time when I and a few of my buddies decided to take a chance on this one because of the cool poster in the lobby. None of us had ever heard of it. Dunno how we got in Posted Image

#5 of 56 OFFLINE   Al Stuart

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Posted September 05 2003 - 12:23 PM

Regarding the unrated version of Waxwork:

Here is a section of the review for the laserdisc

The movie is probably harmed and not helped by the uncensored gore footage added for the home video release, since the material tends to squelch a viewer's imagination.

http://www.dvdlaser....il.cfm?id=19676

#6 of 56 OFFLINE   ChrisBEA

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Posted September 05 2003 - 12:35 PM

Key word: [quote] probably [quote]
Where are all the people who complain about a DVD not containing what was in the theater, which is more often than not what the intended version is?

Oh well, I don't feel like fighting over a movie I haven't evene seen and will probably not see both versions to compare anyway....

I'll check this disk out, premise is intriguing enough....

#7 of 56 OFFLINE   Al Stuart

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Posted September 05 2003 - 01:23 PM

[quote]
Where are all the people who complain about a DVD not containing what was in the theater, which is more often than not what the intended version is? [quote]

The R version was the one that was in the theater. Otherwise, why would there be two different versions, if not for a rating compromise (please don't quote me and say, key word: compromise)? The unrated stuff was added for video and laser.

#8 of 56 OFFLINE   Michael Elliott

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Posted September 05 2003 - 01:29 PM

As long as what was shown in the theater is on the DVD then I'm not going to bash a studio too much. I know Paramount takes a lot of heat over their F13 DVDs but I'm perfectly happy with them. What's on those discs is the exact same film I've been watching the past 20 years so the thought of un "uncut" release doesn't get me too hyped. I actually went and rebought all the current F13 discs just in case the SEs have different versions. Unlike any other genre, the horror community has a very strong eye when it comes to stuff being cut. I know fellas who will track down ten different video versions of a film just to make sure the DVD isn't missing anything. The strange thing is that a lot of people will boycott a DVD is a frame of gore is missing yet they don't seem to mind when dialogue is missing. THE COMEDY OF TERRORS and DAY OF THE DEAD have some dialogue missing yet not too many are making a big deal out of it. However, if it was one second of gore I'm sure a lot of people would have boycotted the disc. I've watched two of these double features and I was shocked at how good the V/A was on all four films. I know Artisan takes a lot of heat but so far they've done a good job with these titles. If you're a fan of WAXWORK I certainly think the disc is worth the $10 especially when you get the sequel.

#9 of 56 OFFLINE   ChrisBEA

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Posted September 05 2003 - 01:30 PM

Regardless, it probably doesn't add that much to the movie. Anyway, I've said my piece, no need to drag out a fruitless discussion. If/when I actually see the movie I'll let everyone now what I think....

#10 of 56 OFFLINE   ChrisBEA

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Posted September 05 2003 - 01:44 PM

Michael, I've noticed that... I got the DOTD disk and didn't notice the dialog, but then I am not as familiar with it as some people are. Anyway nicely said. You should see(or maybe already have) the condition of a lot of the Shaw Brothers kung fu movies. None are good, badly dubbed, and you're up in the air as for PS/WS and there are so many different cuts, you don't know what you're getting, but you're guranteed the disks will be inexpensive, so you can get a lot of them! ANyway, I'll keep my eye out for this. I was thinking of checking out Ghoulies or Troll dble features. I recently got Fly/Return of the fly and it looks great.

#11 of 56 OFFLINE   Michael Elliott

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Posted September 05 2003 - 02:00 PM

CHRIS---I'm a Jess Franco fan so these "alternate" cuts certainly wear on the mind. I've seen four versions of A VIRGIN AMONG THE LIVING DEAD alone. I think I've seen four versions of THE FEMALE VAMPIRE as well. I was spending way too much money trying to track down each version that I finally gave up and told myself to only view whatever is released on DVD.

#12 of 56 OFFLINE   ChrisBEA

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Posted September 05 2003 - 02:15 PM

Michael, I don't think I've ever gone out of my way to track down alternate cuts of anything, I'll check other region dvd's for what's available. For as a big movie buff I am , I tend to be kinda lazy.... All I ask for, and hopefully get is what the director's intended vision was, and usually that seems to be what was originally in theaters, I can extend that to theater in the originating country. It seems any film that comes from outside the states gets chopped up and usually pretty badly. For an example, have you seen The Medallion? I almost walked out of that, I heard the HK version was a half hr longer, it probably made sense there....

#13 of 56 OFFLINE   Michael Elliott

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Posted September 05 2003 - 02:22 PM

I haven't seen THE MEDALLION yet but I know many fans who weren't too happy with it. The thing with Franco is that he would shoot three or four versions while he was making the film. Like THE FEMALE VAMPIRE was shot as a horror film but the producer's couldn't sell it so they shot some softcore sex scenes. This wasn't "hard" enough so they made it more sexual and took out all the blood. Years later the "hard" version wasn't hard enough for porn theaters so they went back and shot XXX footage for the film.

With something like that, there's just no way to know which version the director thought as "his cut". Plus it's way too expensive for us collector's to track down. Posted Image

#14 of 56 OFFLINE   Ric Bagoly

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Posted September 05 2003 - 02:34 PM

Despite it being fullscreen, I will purchase this because I LOVE Waxwork, and think the sequel is okay... -"Oh don't be jealous boy, just because your girlfriend had her first ORgasm at the end of a whip and not by your touch! What a slut she is!"
"You can't be the first, and you'll never be the last, but baby, you can ALL be next! Woooooooo!!!"

#15 of 56 OFFLINE   ChrisBEA

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Posted September 05 2003 - 02:39 PM

Yeah, MEDALLION is awful, and I love Chan's movies, even Tuxedo which I think got a bad wrap. I'm not familiar with Franco's work, I can't imagine shooting a film like that andbeing able to retain any of your vision. It has to be rough for the film maker, not to mention all the fans trying to track down all the versions, gives me a headache just thinking about it. Makes me like what AB did with Army of Darkness, I know that there were a lot of DVD releases of the same thing, but putting out the disk with both versions was great, along with Artisan's recent release of Stargate (Ultimate Edition) with both versions as well as sporting one of the best transfers my poor eyes has seen.

#16 of 56 OFFLINE   Justin_S

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Posted September 05 2003 - 04:26 PM

Nice review, but I'm passing on this release, and have ordered the Dragon SE of WAXWORK a few days back. Should be here soon. No way I'm gonna get this disc when Dragon's is uncut and has some features. I also dislike WAXWORK 2, so I have utterly no use for this double feature.

#17 of 56 OFFLINE   Ryan Wishton

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Posted September 05 2003 - 06:21 PM

I enjoyed Waxwork... I actually owned it on VHS as a kid and teen (12-16) or something like that, but the tape broke... The sequel I did not like at all... I saw that at 12 too and was horribly bored by it... The comedy aspect they added to it was also horrible... The did looney tunes like sounds with the hand from what I can remember... Just awful...

#18 of 56 OFFLINE   Andy Olivera

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Posted September 06 2003 - 07:35 AM

That's true, as long as you haven't seen the uncut version or know what's missing.

Besides, this is Anthony Hickox we're talking about. The guy practically specializes in graphic violence(see also: Hellraiser 3 or Warlock: The Armageddon). The quote from the DVDLaser review is wrong. Hickox is all style: a director who wants to show you everything, not have you imagine it.

But whatever. It's not like anyone around here would consider Hickox a credit to the art of filmmaking, anyway. Posted Image
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#19 of 56 OFFLINE   Jay W

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Posted September 06 2003 - 08:42 AM

Well I've only seen the Unrated version of Waxwork so I'll pass on this. I'll take a VHS copy of a movie thats complete over a cut DVD(even if the a/v is good) any day of the week. I guess its time I break down and buy a region free player.

#20 of 56 OFFLINE   Michael Elliott

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Posted September 06 2003 - 04:30 PM

OK, does anyone happen to have the LD, which feature the uncut version? If so, could you give me the running time? The DVD runs 97 minutes and 07 seconds. I had heard that the LD ran 97 minutes and 14 seconds meaning the DVD was missing around 7 seconds worth of footage and it was cut. Another member over at DVD Maniacs rented the R-rated videotape and it only ran over 95 minutes so this tape was even more cut from the R-rated version or the DVD is complete.





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