Release Date(s)1988/1991 (October 18, 2016)
Studio(s)Vestron Pictures/Lionsgate Entertainment (Vestron Video Collector's Series)
- Film/Program Grade: See Below
- Video Grade: See Below
- Audio Grade: See Below
- Extras Grade: A
- Overall Grade: B+
Many consider the 1980s to be the greatest era for horror movies, not because all of them were classics, but because there were so many different ones to choose from. You had your cheap slashers, your monster movies, your kid-friendly scary movies, and your mainstream thrillers with dark, horrific elements to them, many of them staples of VHS horror rentals and cable airings for a generation of horror fans. The makers of Waxwork and its sequel, Waxwork II: Lost in Time, figured out a way to cram many of those different horror elements into both movies.
The premise of Waxwork involves a group of college students who visit a wax museum. The students quickly realize that the wax figures come to life. Soon enough, they’re being chased by vampires, werewolves, zombies, and even Marquis de Sade. Upon interacting with these figures, they become a permanent part of the displays. Waxwork II: Lost in Time continues where the first film left off, but takes a left turn into more overt comedic territory. Jumping through a time portal, the survivors of the first film find themselves running through a gauntlet of different situations in various time periods, all while trying to survive them.
Personally, I’ve never understood why the Waxwork movies weren’t bigger and more successful than they actually were. Sure they were hits with horror fans, but even with the presence of Zach Galligan in the lead (hot off of the success of Gremlins), they just didn’t have larger mainstream appeal. Regardless, director Anthony Hickcox and his crew of special effects technicians certainly gave audiences a lot of bang for their buck. These movies aren’t overly serious, but they’re not exactly lighthearted either, more in the tone of something like Creepshow, but with their tongues planted firmly in cheek. Both are terrific and imaginative though, and have been long overdue for a Blu-ray upgrade.
Lionsgate’s Vestron Video Collector’s Series release features both movies in widescreen. Both transfers are similar, so I’ll just cover them both in one shot. Detail is much improved over their standard definition counterparts, but grain levels are inconsistent. The images can be on the soft side at times and depth is a little lacking, but overall clarity is pleasing. The color palette is also good, but doesn’t pop quite as much as it perhaps should. However, skin tones look very natural. Blacks are fairly deep, though they appear a tad crushed in spots, but brightness and contrast levels are good. There are no signs of digital enhancement and there are only minor are-related artifacts leftover, including some mild speckling and a scratch or two here and there. The first film also has some stability issues, mostly during the first half hour, but manages to smooth out a bit as it goes on. Both films feature English 2.0 DTS-HD audio tracks. There’s nice dialogue reproduction and both scores and sound effects are strong, with occasional directionality and some decent ambience to be heard from time to time. Minor low end activity is detectable as well, particularly in the first film. There are subtitles in English SDH for those who might need them.
WAXWORK (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): B+/B+/B+
WAXWORK II: LOST IN TIME (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): B-/B+/B+
Most fans will probably be picking this up for the extra material, and Red Shirt Pictures has produced some terrific new bonus features in addition to the vintage stuff that’s been dug up. For Waxwork on Disc One, there’s an audio commentary with director Anthony Hickox and actor Zach Galligan; an isolated score and audio interview track with composer Roger Bellon; The Waxwork Chronicles documentary in 6 chapters (Museums & Portals, Through the Looking Glass, An Eye for Details, Mark’s Magic Ride, Faces in the Crowd, Blood and Wax); The Making of Waxwork vintage featurette; the original theatrical trailer; and a still gallery. For Waxwork II: Lost in Time on Disc Two, there’s another audio commentary with director Anthony Hickox and actor Zach Galligan; another isolated score and audio interview track with composer Steve Schiff; the music video for “Lost in Time” by Dwayne ‘Muffla’ Simon and Darryl ‘Big Dad’ Pierce that is shown during the movie’s closing credits; the original theatrical trailer; and another still gallery. Be forewarned though: If you haven’t seen Waxwork II, don’t watch its terrible trailer as it practically shows the entire movie beat for beat in chronological order.
Lionsgate’s fledgling Vestron Video Collector’s Series (spearheaded by executive producer Dustin Dean) continues to impress here, giving both Waxwork and Waxwork II: Lost in Time the treatment they deserve on Blu-ray Disc. They’re fun and imaginative movies that don’t try to be anything more than what they are. For proof, look no further than John Rhys Davies turning into a werewolf. Need I say more? Recommended.
- Tim Salmons