From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: Waxwork

Welcome back to our 6th countdown to Halloween 2017 and another in our “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic” series.  This time around we are going to take a look at the underrated and one of my favorite late 80’s horror films Waxwork and the Blackthrone Comic based on it! This Horror film mixes scares and laughs and is packed to the brim with monsters from Dracula all the way to an ax murderer looking lumberjack! This film has so much going for it, and I truly think that it’s an underrated Horror film from the 80’s that has enough blood, guts and gore to make Gorehounds happy and enough humor to make people with dark sense of humors chuckle. So if you’re ready to take a tour of this WaxWorks on a day they are celebrating the theme of From Horror Movie To Horror Comics, then I am 100% ready to as this is an update I have been waiting to do for a very long time.

Before we go on we must first look at the main villain of the film and that’s David Lincoln and his sidekicks Hans and Junior. David Lincoln is an evil man who has not aged in decades due to black magic amulets that hold the spirits of some of the world’s most fearsome and murderous creatures and killers. His hideout is a wax museum in the middle of a neighborhood that he hides the amulets in with the displays of the killers.  His goal is to have innocent people stumble into the displays where they will be killed and their souls taken.  Once he meets his goal of 18 souls, the monsters and killers will once more be freed into our times! David seems to have supernatural powers as he is ageless, can appear and disappear and seems to have control over his butlers Hans and Junior as well as the killers whom he is trying to bring back. David also seems to want the world to be in chaos and wants it to end with humans being killed by monsters. He also can use guns really well and has the gift of talk as he is able to come off as a nice guy even though he has sinister intentions. He is pretty strong and has killed people with his bare hands, and his is very smart making him a very dangerous man. His weakness is the fact that while he does not age, he still can be killed like a normal man.  Hans is one of his butlers who is a little person and has the attitude of a bully while Junior is a very tall man who has the mind of a child.  Both are very loyal to David and his cause of world destruction. While he might not be as unstoppable as some Horror Movie bad guys, David Lincoln is just as dangerous as he has lots of evil talents and friends in very low places.

But while David Lincoln is our main villain, I feel like we should also briefly talk about the fact most of the killing and soul taking is being done by the monsters in the wax museum as they rule their own display and dispatch those silly enough to enter them. Among the madmen that are waiting to rule our world are The Phantom Of The Opera, Frankenstein’s Monster, Alien, Man Eating Planet, Evil Demon Baby, Invisible Man and Jack The Ripper to name a few. Our main killing machines after our cast of characters are the blood sucking Count Dracula and his vampire family, a crazed werewolf, a shuffling head crushing Mummy, flesh eating zombies and the master of erotic murder and torture Marquis de Sade all who take pleasure in killing their targets. Each of these killers and madmen have their own powers and methods of killing making them all very evil and very dangerous! So to sum it up, David’s team is filled with some of the top madmen in cinema.

So now that we are up to date on the villains of WaxWork, we should now dive into the film itself as well as its sequel and see what makes this series tick. As always our good friends at IMDB will supply us with the films write up and I will follow them up with some production notes, film facts as well as chat about my first time seeing them. So let’s take a stroll through this crazy WaxWork and see if we can give ourselves a scare or two…or at least learn a little something about this underrated film series.

Waxwork (1988)

“A waxwork museum comes to town, and a mysterious man invites some teens to come to a special showing at midnight. Once inside, while viewing different exhibits, the scenes come alive and the viewer is sucked into the story being portrayed.”

WaxWorks was limited released in theaters on June 18, 1988 by Vestron Pictures and was been said to be the first self-referential horror film way before Scream and its many clones. The film when released was not a huge Box Office hit in the USA only bringing in $808,114.00 on a $1.5 Million dollar budget and coming in at # 183 for the year. But while it was a limited release, it did however beat out some other cult classics like Maniac Cop, Prison, My Best Friend Is A Vampire and Ghost Town to name a few. Not to mention 1988 was a great year for Horror Movie fans as such films as A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, Child’s Play, The Serpent And The Rainbow, Friday The 13th Part 7: The New Blood, Halloween 4: Return Of Michael Myers, Poltergeist III, They Live, Hellbound: Hellraiser II, Return On The Living Dead Part 2, Bad Dreams, The Blob and Phantasm II to name a very few all hit theaters! WaxWorks was met with mixed reviews with critics and fans being split on how much they enjoyed the film or didn’t. The film however did find success on the home video market as the sales for the VHS were solid and helped it get a sequel some years later. The film would also go on to be released on DVD and Blu-Ray and has gained a solid and loyal cult fan base. The film was directed by Anthony Hickox and stars Zach Galligan, Deborah Foreman, Michelle Johnson and Dana Ashbrook as the college kids with John Rhys-Davies, J. Kenneth Campbell and Miles O’Keeffe as the monsters! And David Warner plays the sinister David Lincoln and does a fantastic job at bringing this character to life.

I first saw this film back in my teen years when my brother Bryan and I rented it from K&L Video as it was one that we had heard of thanks to Fangoria Magazine and other horror related books. I can remember it was a day we rented a number of flicks and loaded up on junk food and soda and that night was a mini horror movie marathon.  I would say that WaxWorks was my favorite of the night as I don’t remember the other films we watched that day. After watching it, I ended up buying it on VHS and watched it from time to time as the film was one that was filled with classic monsters and gore and this made it up my ally. As VHS went away, I have gotten it on DVD and still find myself watching it at least once a year, sometimes even more. I also always recommend this film to Horror Movie fans whom have not seen it as it’s entertaining and always is a hit with them when they watch it.

Waxwork II: Lost In Time (1992)

“Mark and Sarah survive to the fire in the wax museum, but Sarah is followed by a severed hand that kills her father. Sarah becomes the prime suspect and goes to trial. Mark and Sarah search evidence to prove her innocence and they go to Sir Wilfred’s house. They find a footage prepared by Sir Wilfred with a puzzle based of the Alice and the Looking Glass. They solve the puzzle and find a compass that opens portals through time. They travel to the most different places in time seeking something to help Sarah in her trial in a dangerous journey.”

This sequel was direct to video and followed up right after the events of the first film. It was released by Electric Pictures on June 16, 1992 and was directed by Anthony Hickox again and starred Zach Galligan, Monika Schnarre and Patrick Macnee as this time around in cameos you have Martin Kemp, Drew Barrymore, Bruce Campbell, Buck Flower and David Carradine! Plus I should note that Godzilla is also in the film in a weird American kind of way. The film never captured the viewers like the first film, and while it’s entertaining, it is lacking a little in the gore and is missing a main villain as David Lincoln does not return. This one focuses way too much on a character called The Master. This was another film I saw via VHS from a rental at K&L Video, and while I enjoy it and it’s an okay sequel, it is lacking the charm on the first film for me. On a side note I want to also say that a clip of this film is used in the film Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth, another film directed by Hickox. This film in 1992 was joined by the following films for Horror Fans to enjoy Candyman, Dead Alive, Dr. Giggles, Army Of Darkness, Dust Devil, Demonic Toys, Stepfather III, Critters 4 and Night Of The Executioner to name a few. So if you enjoyed the first film, this one is worth a watch.

In 1988 when WaxWork was in theaters independent comic company Blackthorne Publishing was trying to lock its place in comic stories, and they did so by offering something different from the other guys and that included 3-D Comics and comics based on Horror, and with this came them doing a comic based on WaxWork! I originally got this comic way back when from Mavericks Cards And Comics and re-bought it years later from Bell Book And Comic so I want to thank them for having it in stock and for reuniting me with many of my comics from the past. So as we enter this WaxWork, I see some rules on the wall about not being late and only one person walking in each display but I also see one that wants me to remind you that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story! So with that Hans has allowed us to go in and let’s see what horrors await us, shall we?

WaxWork # 1  **1/2
Released in 1988     Cover Price $2.00     Blackthrone     # 1 of 1

A homeless man is looking through the garbage outside of a Wax Muesum when he sneaks inside and is killed by Jason Voorhees! This traps his soul and allows owner David Lincoln to only need six more people in order to free the world’s worst killers and madmen! The next day Mark along with his friends are walking to school when they are greeted by David Lincoln who invites them all to visit the museum tonight for a private event, and they agree. Later that evening Mark and friends along with Professor Wilfred all attend, and soon many of them fall victim to the monsters in the displays as Dracula, Jack The Ripper, Zombies, The Mummy, a Werewolf and Marquis de Sade all claim victims and open the rift to allow them all to live again! Mark, Sarah and Professor Wilfred figure out what’s going on and set the place on fire all the while trying to defend themselves from the killers! Mark takes down Jason, while Sarah chops off Dracula’s head and before they can escape David Lincoln shoots Professor Wilfred as he stabs David and the WaxWorks falls down around them. In the end Sarah and Mark are greeted by the paramedics and are taken away as a lone Zombie Hand survives the fire.

When I was younger I really enjoyed this comic as it changed the plot and characters and made it a very loose adaptation of the film giving me as a reader and a fan something a little new.  Some of the changes that worked was adding a 80’s slasher killer like Jason Voorhees, but what didn’t work was how fast the story goes and that they take away any and all of the impact of the monsters as well as really downplay David Lincoln.  Also while Junior is around, he is very different and Hans is left out all together leaving grown up me thinking the comic was just okay. The plot is this: a group of college kids and their professor go to a wax museum, and some of the friends die inside the exhibits. After a brief time, they figure out that they have to burn the place down in order to stop the monsters from entering society. That’s the major issue with this comic adaptation, it all happens really quick and fast and besides the exhibit attacks all the horror and scares are gone as is the personalities of the characters, as Mark, China, Sarah and the others just come off as generic friends and villains who lack any real depth and charisma that made them cool characters in the films. Plus characters change roles as Sir Wilfred, who is the great grandfather of Mark in the films, is his professor in the comic, and he no longer leads an army of old timers that are trained to kill the monsters, but instead just figures out that they need to set the Wax Museum ablaze to stop the evil. David Lincoln is a minor role in this comic and barely gets to show off the characters evil side. The comic also cuts back on the gore and blood.  While it’s a little of a letdown, it still has some of the red stuff so it tried to at least please splatter fans. While it sounds like I am down on this comic with pointing out all its flaws and shortcomings, I do want to stress that I still enjoyed this comic after all these years.  I think lots of it has to do with that I am a sucker for Horror Comics based on cult films I love. The cover is pretty cool and is taken from the movie poster and has Hans opening the door to the WaxWorks with evil spirits all around. The interior art is done by Nigel Tully and is solid work.  While most of the characters look nothing like the actors who played them, it still holds a charm of its own. So I think if you enjoy the film and want to read almost a reimagining of the story then check this one out, but for those looking for the humor and gore of the film in these comic pages, I would say you might be disappointed. But while it’s not perfect I will say it’s a fun read and a comic that I enjoy having in my collection. Check out the artwork below to see what the art style is in this comic.

WaxWorks might not be a household name like many of the other 80’s Horror films, but it is one that I do truly think has been overlooked and deserves a cult statues. And it’s a film that mixes classic monsters and splatter effects wrapped around a horror comedy shell and is one of the better Horror Comedy films ever made. But with that we are going to leave the WaxWorks and head to out main attraction for this Countdown to Halloween as we will be playing a game and meeting the killer Jigsaw when we explore the world of SAW! So until then read a comic or three, watch a Horror Movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host! See you on Halloween, boils and ghouls!

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