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Waxwork II: Lost in Time (1992)

Review

Author
Date
01-10-2003
Comments

After escaping the blazing obliteration of the waxwork, Mark (Zach Galligan, Warlock: The Armageddon, Waxwork) and Sarah's (Monika Schnarre, Warlock: The Armageddon) biggest problems begin as a hand from the museum follows them back to Sarah's house and murders her alcoholic stepfather. While at Sir Wilfred's searching for clues to prove her innocence, they come across a compass that unlocks the doors of the universe, which whisks them away into altered dimensions. In order to get back home Mark (now a time warrior) must face Lord Scarabus (Alexander Godunov, Die Hard), the most wicked and maniacal demonic entity of all time. Mixing Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror, Waxwork II: Lost in Time will take you on a shocking expedition through the centuries.

Waxwork II picks up the same night where the original left off, yet it is almost hard to tell. Not only because Sarah's character, originally played by the beautiful Deborah Foreman has been replaced with Monika Schnarre; but Galligan's character of Mark looks totally different as well. Schnarre can't put on the same persona that Foreman possessed in the first film; and doesn't resemble her in any way. The way Mark looks and dresses also makes it obvious that this sequel was made a few years later, too. It also seems that Galligan lost touch with the character of the first film. He is no longer stuck up at all, and has no rich acting ways about him. Sarah and Mark both were made to be hokier in this film. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

Albeit this is a further continuation on the characters of Mark and Sarah, their predicament really has nothing to do with wax this time around. Once they go through the gateway opened by the compass, the dimensions that they're transported to have a close similarity to the worlds that they entered in the waxwork; but the outcomes are much different. The rules are not the same. It isn't a matter of believing what you see or not. As in the original, Mark is much more strong-minded than Sarah. He has a grasp on where they are from, and what they are supposed to be doing, while Sarah is easily brainwashed into the persona of whoever she becomes.

Like its predecessor, Waxwork II is the Super Hero of homage to some of the most classic horror films of all time; as well as Sci-Fi and Fantasy. The spoofs are all over the place; sometimes spoofs from 2 films are mixed together simultaneously. The Legend of Hell House/Haunting world that Mark enters is wonderful, with a cameo by Bruce Campbell as John Loftmore (same last name as Galligan's character, although it is never mentioned whether they are related or not). This segment is effectively shown in black and white. Not that it creates a spooky type ambiance, but it legitimately feels like a true old horror film. Campbell's character is genius. A little unlike most of his roles, but he still keeps the same quirkiness about himself.

Another good homage is a Dawn of the Dead style world, taking place in a shopping mall. Mark is transformed into a John Travolta/Saturday Night Fever look-alike, while Godunov (Scarabus) becomes one of the biker survivalists from the Romero classic. This is a classic sword-fighting scene in the middle of a hundred zombies with Savini style gore. Respect to other films such as Nosferatu, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, The Shining and many others are paid in full. These are the ingredients that help this movie survive. It is so authentic to the films it takes from, yet it's tacky and artificial at the same time.

Not only is the acting not as up to par, but it also seems like director and writer Anthony Hickox (Storm Catcher, Hellraiser III) forgot the true development of his characters from the first film. Sarah lives in a white trash apartment and house a couch potato, alcoholic stepdad, but her best friends from pt 1 are rich upper-class youngsters, including Mark. Uhhh, huh? This isn't how actress Deborah Foreman came off at all in the original. And better yet, why not get someone that looked a little more like Sarah? And EVEN further, why not get someone who can act? Monika Schnarre is all right to look at, but her aptitude is atrocious. After watching the minute's progress in the film, it is apparent she didn't study this character. Her goofy little fight scene with Scarabus' lap dog is appalling on her part; bouncing back and forth like Rocky Balboa, fists clenched and all. It is almost a Naked Gun style humor here. True, the original was a horror comedy, but scenes like this are just ludicrous; it takes too much away from the true atmosphere.

As referenced earlier, Zach Galligan was a little off in his role of Mark this time around, too; and his appearance is totally misrepresented. Not in a sense that that he looks older, or not even just because his hair is totally different; but he is barely the same person. When a sequel is supposed to pick up the same night as the original, this really messes things up. And for fans of the original Waxwork, it's extremely noticeable. Just after one night of being transported into different worlds inside set pieces at a wax museum, how would one become so interested in time travel, or becoming a time warrior? Better yet, and aside from the faults of character loss and mediocre acting, why the hell is it considered time travel? The movie is subtitled Lost in Time, but they aren't traveling through time. Sure, the movie homage's they land in are in different time frames, but Sarah and Mark are more or less movie jumping; almost like the Horace Pinker scene in the finale of Shocker. Sometimes it almost seems like a bad Bill and Ted sequel without the presence of "Whoa" and "Dude" every five seconds.

Faces from many other movies show up for Waxwork II, though. Alexander Godunov plays the main villain, Scarabus. Ever since Die Hard, he has never really managed to be anybody different. He will always be the crazy terrorist that had one of the best fight scenes in cinematic history with Bruce Willis. In the Alien/Aliens homage scene Maxwell Caulfield (Grease 2, Sundown) shows up as a frantic and jerkish Bill Paxton type character, Drew Barrymore (Scream, Firestarter) shows up for a silent role for the Nosferatu segment, David Carradine (Deathrace 2000) is seen in the Monty Python/fantasy part, and of course Bruce Campbell. Many other familiar faces are thrown about too, such as creator Anthony Hickox himself.

Bob Keen returns for the special FX for Waxwork 2, and the gore is fairly in the same manner. The killer hand has a sequence respecting Evil Dead II's possessed hand scene, Phantasm's garbage disposal outlook and A Nightmare on Elm Street's Johnny Depp death all rolled into one. The zombie gore from the Dawn of the Dead reverence is great, too. It is apparent that Keen did his homework, here. A victim's visible ribcage doused in salt, a blood sprayed head smash and the entire Frankenstein aspect are truly a gore lover's dream. The monster in no way resembles the qualities from the classic, but he is still a very menacing beast. Yes, the FX are some of the finest elements Waxwork II carries (aside from the horribly plastic looking alien).

It is hard to recommend this film, because it's a given some people will not enjoy it. Some hard-core fans of horror will find something to dig about this movie, though. It isn't as good as the original Waxwork, not even as good as it could've been, but a fairly decent follow-up. I like it just because it does a great job at bringing back memories from other great films, and it's cool to see them all thrown into one movie. The first film was better at cheesy comedy, and more toward horror; not really touching as strongly on a Sci-Fi and Fantasy aspect. So, some fans of the original may not find this as fun. The music score is annoying at times too, sounding like an NES role-playing game. I would say it's safe to take your chances on Waxwork II: Lost in Time, but expect something decent, not excellent.

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