Sunday, November 30, 2014

Review: Waxwork II: Lost in Time (1992)

Do we really have to talk about this movie? Do we? Well, yeah, I guess we do. I did Anthony Hickox Week with the intention of building towards this movie, so it would be silly not to cover it. Right out of the gate, the thing that surprises me the most is that Anthony Hickox directed and wrote this movie, because it really doesn't have the charm of other movies he did in the horror-comedy sub-genre. Much like Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth, it just sort of sticks out like an awkward growth, not really serving a valid purpose. It is the extra finger on the hand of Anthony Hickox's movie career.

As opposed to the extra finger on Jesse Ventura's career, which was awesome.

Waxwork, as I talked about before, is an excellent little slice of horror and comedy, with an interesting premise and some really great performances. It didn't really need a sequel either, as the plot wrapped up rather nicely. But then, there is that ending stinger. The dismembered hand crawling from the burning building. I imagine Hickox put the scene in there not really thinking about making a sequel, instead using it as a winking/nudging reference to Evil Dead 2. But no, it's couldn't just be left at that. Somehow the world got a sequel. Does it live up to the original?

In some ways, yes.
The story picks up exactly where it left off, with our heroes escaping from the burning waxworks as the dismembered hand crawls out of the wreckage. Zack Galligan is back as Mark, but Deborah Foreman didn't come back to play Sarah. So if you think Sarah looks different, that would be why. Anyway, the hand follows Sarah home where we see she's got an abusive asshole of a father, which I suppose says some really awkward things about her in regards to her sexual kink towards being whipped in the first film. I've heard of daddy issues but that's really uncomfortable to think about. Was she imagining her dad beating her as she was being whipped? I am getting grossed out here, so let's move on. The hand gets in the house and we get a bit of a further tribute to Evil Dead 2, as the hand attacks the father. But this time the hand succeeds where Ash's evil hand failed, resulting in Sarah being blamed for her abusive father's death.

I don't know about you, but this is hilarious so far. Nothing funnier than tragedy.
Mark loses his temper in court and things aren't going so well for them both. I mean, Sarah is so stressed out her hair grew long since the end of the last movie. They both head to Sir Wilfred's place where they find a film he prepared for them in the event of his death. In the film, he gets sauced and explains to them that he's left all of his estate to Mark, including the responsibility to care for the many supernatural objects he and Mark's grandfather found over their many adventures. Wait, why didn't we get a movie about that? Yeah, I would've much rather seen a prequel where Galligan plays a young version of his grandfather alongside another actor as Sir Wilfred. But we didn't get that. So, blah blah blah, Sarah solves a riddle and they find the secret room of scary spooky artifacts.

Mark even finds the mask from Bloody Murder, because that sure ain't Jason's mask.
This is all because they want to find some evidence of the waxworks being what they both say it is. Instead they find a time-door opener and decide to use it to go into the worlds at the now smouldering waxworks. Instead of that though, they find a door right there, so of course they go through it, because why not? They fall through a void and one of the special effects from House flies by, obviously mistaking Mark for William Katt. This is followed by Mark seeing a weird film-like memory that seems to imply his mother molested him as a kid. Well, at least I thought that at first, but nope. It was implying that he needs to crawl back into her vagina and be a fetus again! Alright, hold up, are you going into 2001: A Space Odyssey territory here? Because I think you might be pushing your luck, Mr. Hickox.

Get out of here, space baby! This isn't your movie!
But instead of more Kubrickian fun, Mark ends up coming out the other end as Gomez Addams. It seems he's been transported into a Victorian era home and Sarah didn't quite make it there with him. Uh oh. That could be bad. It becomes pretty obvious fairly quickly that he's in Frankenstein's place and he's now stuck living out the events there-in. What you would expect to happen does indeed happen, but it seems Frankenstein's love is a dead ringer for Sarah. He meets the monster, reminds Sarah who she is, the peasant revolt, and this right here happens when the monster gets a hold of the doctor.

Best screenshot ever.
As they both go through the door to another world, they invariably get separated again, only this time Sarah doesn't show up. Instead, Bruce Campbell shows up. Well, that's actually pretty awesome. This time Mark is stuck living out The House on Haunted Hill as it turns out Sarah is stuck in an entirely different world where she's living out Alien in the role of Ellen Ripley. Things play out as you would expect in both stories, with Mark dealing with ghosties in his and Sarah dealing with aliens. Poor Bruce Campbell ends up with a bit of a chest wound in the exchange.

I'm sure he'll be fine so long as he pours some Tussin on it.
Mark makes it to Sarah, saving her at the last minute as they escape the aliens together and end up in a world that looks suspiciously like a Beastmaster movie might be taking place elsewhere. Here it turns out that Sarah's world counterpart is the sister of the evil lord who just so happens to want to spread his seed inside of her. You know, I've already commented on the strange incest vibe that's going on here, but really, what the fuck? This guy has other weird fetishes too, like turning women into catgirls. Not the cute anime kind or like Cheetara from Thundercats, mind you. No, he turns women into this.

If you find this attractive, then I am afraid there simply is no help for you.
But if that doesn't that he's evil, he also has a silly sidekick that even Wormtongue would make fun of. Seriously, I don't know what to say about this guy. He seems like he should be offensive in some way, but I am not sure what way exactly. He's pretty useless overall and gets taken out in a pretty goofy fashion when he tries to molest Sarah and gets a knife in the back. He will not be missed. Mark leads an uprising against the villain, exposing a plan to replace the king, and the two end up dueling as they phase in and out of different realities or time periods or whatever these are supposed to be. The worlds are all tributes to various horror staples, featuring a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde world, Jack the Ripper world, a Nosferatu world, a Dawn of the Dead world, and even a Godzilla world. They finally end up back in the fantasy world where the battle reaches its conclusion as the bad guy gets killed by the cat lady he made earlier.

You see that? That's the face of a man who just shat his tights.
To make things even better, it seems Mark sliced off a zombie hand along the way, giving them the evidence they needed to clear Sarah of murder. Awesome. Not so awesome is the fact that Mark found out via Sir Wilfred speaking to him through a raven that he's meant to be a hero of time and can't go back with her. So he sends her back against her will, she clears her names, and then receives a package with the doodad to traverse worlds inside it so she can rejoin Mark as they both adventure across the whatever. Yay, credits.

That zombie hand tapping there in the courtroom that is clearly bored? That's how I felt going into this.
Verdict time. Sarah may have got off free and clear, but does the movie itself get the same fate? Well, to be honest, it's actually a lot better than I remember it being. True, it doesn't even hold a candle to the original movie, but at the same time I actually really found myself enjoying the humour. The different worlds Hickox built here in tribute to other films were done great and a lot of the jokes played out perfectly. The practical effects were great, just like they were in the first film, and overall it was a lot better than what I covered from another series that came out the same year as this. I am actually a bit disappointed, as I was ready to completely rip this movie apart.

Much like the one guy got ripped apart by the creepy wet cat lady.
In the end, it's actually a much better film than I gave it credit for. I'd even go as far as saying it's one of Anthony Hickox's better films. I know, I'm shocked too. It's a goofy movie, make no mistake, but it's meant to be. It was built to be a silly yet loving tribute to horror much in the same way the original Waxwork was. And sure, we didn't get David Warner this time or much of Patrick Macnee, but we did get some great Bruce Campbell and David Carradine performances. I wonder if Hickox locked them down for this when he filmed Sundown with them? Summing it up, if you loved the first movie, you should get this movie a chance. It's a pretty decent sequel that managed to not screw things up too badly. So, until someone lets that poor creepy wet cat lady out of her cage, I'll be here trying to remember that sometimes things are better than you remember them being. Later days, bleeders.

Seriously though, was this guy really necessary?

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