There have been people disappearing in the neighbourhood, but at the moment, over breakfast, college student Mark Loftmore (Zach Galligan) is more concerned with the fact that his rich mother won't allow him coffee in the mornings. Luckily, the butler, Jenkins (Joe Baker) is standing at the door to provide him with a cuppa and a smoke and Mark is ready to face the day. Meanwhile, the girl he has his eye on, China (Michelle Johnson) is walking to college with her best friend Sarah (Deborah Foreman) when they notice a waxworks museum has sprung up on the street apparently overnight. Equally abruptly, the owner, Mr Lincoln (David Warner) appears and makes them an offer: if they return at midnight with four friends then they can have a private viewing of the exhibits. However, this is one offer the girls would be advised not to take up...
Self-confessed horror fan Anthony Hickox wrote and directed Waxwork (dedicating it to a host of horror filmmakers - as well as his mum and dad) and supposedly the script was conjured up in three days. Unfortunately, it shows as the flimsy story is patently a ruse to fit in as many tributes to the films Hickox is a fan of as possible. As far as that goes, more care and attention seems to have been given to the self-contained tales in what is essentially a portmanteau chiller with a more involved linking story than usual, but there's a good natured sense of humour at work here that buoys the somewhat strained elements.
The way that the cast of overage teens are drawn into the horrors is that when four of them turn up at the door at midnight (the other two have chickened out) they are invited in by a midget and a Lurch-style manservant and begin to inspect the displays. This is not a time-honoured Mystery of the Wax Museum tale, but a newer twist, although it's nice to see some things never change: yes, you can see the actors playing the waxworks moving slightly, thereby crushing the illusion. Ah well. But when one of Mark's friends goes to take a closer look and walks past the barrier, they are plonked right in the middle of a scary tale, as Tony (Dana Ashbrook) discovers when he meets up with John Rhys-Davies' werewolf in a log cabin.
One odd aspect to Waxwork is that Foreman's character is called Sarah Brightman, leading one to presume that Hickox was a big fan of either Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera or Hot Gossip's "Starship Trooper" hit single. Speaking of Foreman, as often she is the best thing in her films, and Sarah's transformation from a prim virgin into lusting after the Marquis de Sade (J. Kenneth Campbell) is one of the stronger sequences. Warner is fun too in a bad guy role that he could have by that time essayed in his sleep, and other exhibits that Mark and co. have to combat include China's meeting with Count Dracula (an improbable Miles O'Keeffe) and the investigating detective's inescapable trap in a Mummy's tomb. It all ends with a messy battle between the waxworks and a group of villagers led by an armoured wheelchair-bound Patrick Macnee, and while more enthusiastic than efficient, the film doesn't wear out its welcome. Music by Roger Bellon.