Waxwork (film)

Last updated
Theatrical film poster
Directed by Anthony Hickox
Produced byStaffan Ahrenberg
Written byAnthony Hickox
Music by Roger Bellon
Cinematography Gerry Lively
Edited byChristopher Cibelli
  • Palla Pictures Corp. [1]
  • HB Filmrullen [1]
Distributed by Vestron Pictures [1]
Release date
  • June 17, 1988 (1988-06-17)
Running time
96 minutes [1]
CountryUnited States [1]
Budget$3.5 million [1]
Box office$808,114

Waxwork is a 1988 American horror comedy film written and directed by Anthony Hickox and starring Zach Galligan, Deborah Foreman, Michelle Johnson, David Warner, Dana Ashbrook, and Patrick Macnee. It is partially inspired by the silent movie Waxworks (film) [2]

Anthony Hickox is an English film director, producer and screenwriter.

Zach Galligan American actor

Zachary Wolfe "Zach" Galligan is an American actor known for his work in such films as Gremlins.

Deborah Lynn Foreman is an American actress. She is perhaps best known for her starring role in the 1983 movie Valley Girl, as "Julie Richman" acting opposite Nicolas Cage as "Randy".



In a small suburban town, a group of high school students--Mark Loftmore (Zach Galligan), China Webster (Michelle Johnson), Sarah Brightman (Deborah Foreman), Gemma (Clare Carey), James (Eric Brown) and Tony (Dana Ashbrook)--visit a mysterious wax museum, resulting from Sarah and China's earlier encounter with a taciturn gentleman (Warner) who claims to own the exhibit and extends them an invitation. There, they encounter several morbid displays, all of which contain stock characters from the horror genre. Tony and China unintentionally enter two separate pocket worlds, as depicted by the waxwork displays, by crossing the exhibition barrier rope. Tony is at a cabin where a werewolf (John Rhys-Davies) attacks him. A hunter and his son arrive and try to kill the werewolf. The son fails and is torn in two, while the hunter shoots the werewolf, then shoots Tony as he begins to transform into a werewolf. China is sent to a Gothic castle where vampires attack her, and Count Dracula (Miles O'Keeffe) turns her into a vampire. Two of the other students, Mark and Sarah, leave the waxwork unscathed. Later, Jonathan (Micah Grant), "a college jock", arrives at the wax museum looking for China, but The Phantom of the Opera display gets his attention as David Lincoln (David Warner) walks him into the display. Mark goes to a pair of investigating police detectives. He and Inspector Roberts (Charles McCaughan) meet Lincoln as he lets Roberts investigate the waxworks. As Mark and Roberts leave the museum, Mark recognizes Lincoln.

Michelle Johnson is an American actress, perhaps best known for her role when she was 17 as Lolita-like teenager Jennifer Lyons in the 1984 romantic comedy film Blame It on Rio.

Clare Carey is an Rhodesian-born American film and television actress.

Dana Ashbrook actor

Dana Vernon Ashbrook is an American actor, best known for playing Bobby Briggs on the cult TV series Twin Peaks and its 1992 prequel film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me.

Later, Roberts realizes that some of the displays look like some of the other missing people, then comes back to the wax museum, cuts off a piece of China's face (revealing black tissue underneath), puts it in a bag, and walks into the mummy display; the mummy throws him in the tomb with another undead mummy and a snake. Later, Roberts's partner sneaks into the museum, and gets his neck broken by Junior (Jack David Walker), "a tall butler" Lincoln scolds for killing the partner.

Mark takes Sarah to the attic of his house, where he shows her an old newspaper detailing the murder of his grandfather (which was seen in the prologue); the only suspect was David Lincoln, his chief assistant, whose photograph closely resembles the waxwork owner. The two then consult the wheelchair-bound Sir Wilfred (Patrick Macnee), a friend of Mark's grandfather, who explains how he and Mark's grandfather collected trinkets from "eighteen of the most evil people who ever lived" and that Lincoln stole the artifacts; Lincoln, having sold his soul to the Devil, wants to bring their previous owners to life by creating some wax effigies and feeding them the souls of victims, a concept taken from Haitian Vodou. Providing all eighteen with a victim would bring about the "voodoo end of the world, when the dead shall rise and consume all things".

Patrick Macnee British actor

Daniel Patrick Macnee was a British film and television actor. He was best known for his role as the secret agent John Steed in the British television series The Avengers.

Deals with the Devil in popular culture

The idea of making a deal with the devil has appeared many times in works of popular culture.

Devil supernatural entity that is the personification of evil and the enemy of god and humankind

A devil is the personification of evil as it is conceived in many and various cultures and religious traditions. It is seen as the objectification of a hostile and destructive force.

On the advice of Sir Wilfred, Mark and Sarah enter the waxwork museum at night and douse it with gasoline. However, Sarah is lured into the display of the Marquis de Sade (J. Kenneth Campbell), and Mark is pushed into a zombie display by the waxwork's two butlers. Mark is approached by a horde of zombies, but finds that if he does not believe in the monsters, then they do not exist and cannot harm him. Mark finds his way out of the display and into the Marquis de Sade exhibit, where he rescues Sarah, while the marquis vows revenge.

Marquis de Sade French novelist and philosopher

Donatien Alphonse François, Marquis de Sade, was a French nobleman, revolutionary politician, philosopher and writer, famous for his libertine sexuality. His works include novels, short stories, plays, dialogues, and political tracts. In his lifetime some of these were published under his own name while others, which Sade denied having written, appeared anonymously. Sade is best known for his erotic works, which combined philosophical discourse with pornography, depicting sexual fantasies with an emphasis on violence, suffering, criminality, and blasphemy against Christianity. He gained notoriety for putting these fantasies into practice. He claimed to be a proponent of absolute freedom, unrestrained by morality, religion, or law. The words sadism and sadist are derived from his name.

J. Kenneth Campbell is an American film, stage, and television actor with distinctive features who has been cast in over 80 roles. He was born in Flushing, New York.

Despite Mark and Sarah's attempts to escape, Junior and Lincoln grab Mark and Sarah, pulling them out of sight as Gemma and James return. Gemma gets lured into the Marquis de Sade display, and James attempts to steal something from the zombie display; moments later, the bodies of James and Gemma reappear as wax figures, the displays completed with the figures and their victims reanimating as evil entities. Suddenly, Sir Wilfred and a huge group of armed men, along with Mark's butler Jenkins, arrive, and in the ensuing battle, several waxworks and slayers die, including Lincoln's butlers and Mark and Sarah's former friends, now evil. Jenkins consoles Mark by saying the China-vampire he killed wasn't his friend; it just looked like her. Mark duels with the Marquis de Sade, who is finally killed by Sarah with an axe.

The reunited couple are confronted by Lincoln, who dies getting shot by Sir Wilfred and falls in a vat of boiling wax. Sir Wilfred is decapitated by a werewolf as Sarah and Mark manage to escape the burning waxwork with their lives and begin to walk home, not noticing that the hand from the zombie display is scuttling away from the rubble.


David Warner (actor) British actor

David Hattersley Warner is an English actor who played both romantic leads and sinister or villainous characters across a range of media, including stage, film, animation, television and video games. He has a worldwide following for his many appearances in the Star Trek TV and feature-film franchise.

Mihaly "Michu" Meszaros was a Hungarian actor, circus performer/entertainer, and stuntman, who as an American citizen was best remembered as a performer with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus and for his role in the NBC sitcom ALF. He was 2'9" tall. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Meszaros was a television and film actor, and he also appeared opposite pop singer Michael Jackson in a Pepsi commercial. His last appearance was in 2015's Death to Cupid.

Charles McCaughan is an American actor and director.

Several crew members appear in small roles:

Gerry Lively is a cinematographer and film director, known for directing Darkness Falls (1999), Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God (2005) and Body Armour (2007).


The "eighteen most evil beings" used in the film are the Marquis de Sade, the werewolf, Count Dracula (his Brides and son exist only within the portal and are not among those displayed), the Golem, the Phantom of the Opera, The Mummy, George A. Romero-style zombies, Frankenstein's monster, Jack the Ripper, The Invisible Man , a voodoo priest, a witch, a snakeman, Rosemary's Baby , an axe murderer, a multi-eyed alien, a giant talking venus flytrap, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde . [3]


The film was given a limited release in the United States by Vestron Pictures in June 1988. It grossed $808,114 at the box office. [4] It was released by Vestron Video the same year on VHS in both R-rated and Unrated editions.[ citation needed ] The film's budget was $3.5 million. [1]

The film was released on DVD in 2003 by Artisan Entertainment as a double feature with the sequel Waxwork II: Lost in Time and again in 2012 as part of an 8 horror film collection DVD. [5]

Lionsgate released the film on Blu-ray for the first time along with its sequel, Waxwork II: Lost in Time , on October 18, 2016, as part of their Vestron Video Collector's Series line. [6]


Film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports an approval rating of 56% based on nine reviews and a rating average of 4.7/10. [7] TV Guide gave the movie one out of five stars, stating that fans of gore will be pleased, but finding little else of worth. It did note the cast is made up of stars of other horror movies [8] . John Stanley in the Creature Feature Guide had a higher opinion of the movie giving in 3.5 out of 5 stars. He cited the intriguing premise as one reason for the positive review. [9]

Other media

A comic adaption of the film was published by Blackthorne Publishing in November 1988, one as a black and white one-shot, and one as Waxwork 3-D Special # 1 (# 55 of Blackthorne′s Blackthorne 3-D Series). [10]


In 1992, the sequel Waxwork II: Lost in Time was released. [11]

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "Waxwork (1988)". AFI Catalog of Feature Films . Retrieved May 27, 2019.
  2. https://www.tvguide.com/movies/waxwork/review/127853/
  3. The Essential Monster Movie Guide: A Century of Creatures in Film by Stephen Jones and Forrest J. Ackerman.
  4. "Waxwork". boxofficemojo.com. Retrieved 2011-03-31.
  5. Waxwork on DVD Talk
  6. Waxwork/Waxwork II: Lost in Time at Blu-Ray.com
  7. "Waxwork (1988) - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes.com. Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 26 October 2016.
  8. https://www.tvguide.com/movies/waxwork/review/127853/
  9. Stanley, J. (2000) Creature Feature: 3rd Edition. Berkley
  10. Waxwork at atomicavenue Retrieved 14.August 2013
  11. "Waxwork II: Lost In Time". TV Guide . Retrieved May 27, 2019.