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Waxwork 1988 ***

‘They’ll make movies about anything these days…’ says David Lincoln (David Warner) in one of a slew of post-modern touches in Waxwork, an ideas-above-its-station horror fantasy from the fondly remembered Vestron Video imprint. A precursor of the mash-up genre blending Monsterverse, Anthony Hickox’s film is about a museum that pops up in an unwary, sleepy neighbourhood in the time-honoured manner of Something Wicked This Way Comes or Needful Things. Visitors see a selection of different characters from The Wolfman to Count Dracula to the Mummy to The Marquis de Sade, but each exhibit is actually a portal to another reality where the monster in question is alive, well and ready to deal out a gory death. The high level of gore is one of the few elements that suggests Waxwork is supposed to be for adults; a few trims here and there and you’d have a Goosebumps-style romp for children. This was a first film for Hickox, son of famous director Douglas, and he’s been able to pull together quite a cast, led by Zach Gilligan from Gremlins 1 and 2, with support from Patrick Macnee as a wheel-chair bound monster-hunter, John Rhys-Davis from Raiders of the Lost Ark as a werewolf and Miles O’Keeffe as Count Dracula. As with The Cabin in the Woods, there’s a tongue-in-cheek sensibility at work here; Hickox originally planned to work in Friday the 13th’s Jason and other current staples, but copyright intervened. Waxwork is a cheeky film that’s weathered well in terms of recasting the way popular characters are used within a meta-narrative.

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