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!

From Horror Movie To Horror Comic – The Willies

Welcome to the fourth spooky update to our countdown to Halloween 2017 and another in our From Horror Movie To Horror Comic series.  Today’s update is about the PG-13 kid friendly horror anthology film, The Willies! Back in the 80’s and early 90’s many scary movies and TV shows were marketed towards kids as horror was super popular with the youth, and The Willies was one such movie. It’s amazing to sit back and think that The Willies got a promo comic made in order to try and draw more kids into seeing it via home video rental. So let’s start up a camp fire and all sit around it and share some tales of what I am calling “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: The Willies”! I once more would like to say to any independent horror filmmaker or distribution company that making comics based on your films is a great idea as it is a tool to offer fans a little something more as well can bring in viewers who read comics and might not have even known about the film it was based on.

Our villains of this film are many but we have two major ones that are showcased in this film that we will focus on. The first we will look at is The Bully Killing Monster who is a tall slender demonoid like creature who feasts on the flesh and bone of mean spirited people who treat others bad. He is very sly in his way of killing as he hides and strikes when he needs to and also strikes fear into his victims. He also can wear a fake suit of human skin in order to find his targeted prey and takes the appearance of an old man school janitor who is super polite and fun loving. We get the impression that he has killed bullies for years and will continue to do so for decades to come. His manner of killing is his sharp teeth as well as his claw like hands.  He can also freeze his prey with fear as he drags them into the celling to hide his killing deed. While he is a demon like monster, he can be hurt with books and soap to the face. While he is not super powerful, this monster does know how to get the job done when it comes to killing off bullies and getting away with it. Our second monsters of this film are the Mutated Giant Flies who were created by a mad farmer named Spivey who makes chemical enhanced soil.  When they grow, they want revenge on a twisted young man who enjoyed capturing them and torturing them. The Mutated Flies when full grown via the soil walk on two legs and are the side of an adult human! They have a mean spirit to them and are violent towards the teen who was mean to them. They are semi strong and they kill in a pact as there are three of them and they do eat human flesh! The Mutated Flies don’t kill, they torture as they ripped off the arms of the teen in order to teach him a lesson and to feast on his removed arms. The Mutated Flies are just giant flies so they can be killed with bug spray or even squashed. While the mutated flies are not super scary nor even racking up a body count, they can cause damage to their prey. So as you can see this film has two different style of monsters and each bring something of their own to the world of horror characters.

So now that we understand the film’s top two monsters we should take some time and talk about the over all film. I will be taking the film’s write up from our pals at IMDB and I will also talk briefly about the film’s production as well as about my first time watching it with my thoughts on it. So let’s dive in and see if you will get The Willies from reading about The Willies!

The Willies (1990)

 “Two brothers camping with their cousin try to frighten each other by telling stories. There are two main narrations: one involves strange happenings at an elementary school; the other, a teenage boy with a peculiar interest.”

The Willies was released in 1990 and is a Horror/Comedy film that was marketed towards teens and adults who enjoy horror anthology films. The film was written and directed by Brian Peck, who is known for his role as punker Scuz in Return Of the Living Dead, and is the only film that he ever directed. The film was lower budget and was released by Paramount Pictures on home video and joined such films Tremors, Nightbreed, Child’s Play 2, Cat In The Brain, Predator 2 and Psycho IV to name a few. The film starred lots of actors who were well known to the horror genre fans like Clu Gulagar, Sean Astin, Dana Ashbrook, Kirk Cameron, Kathleen Freeman, James Karen and Tracey Gold to name a few. The film is a mix bag of positive and negative reviews and while not a household name, The Willies does have a cult following and many fans of the film always get happy to talk about Michael Bower who played Donkeylips in the Nickelodeon show Salute Your Shorts playing a cruel bug collector in one of the shorts. The film was distributed by Force Majeure Productions and not much more can be said about the release and making of this film.

The first time I saw The Willies was via a VHS rental from Blockbuster Video when I was a teen. As always my older brother Bryan was the one who rented it, and we watched it one late weekend night while eating chips and drinking pop and immersing myself into the world of The Willies. I have always been a fan of horror anthology films and from the first watch, I can say that I really did enjoy The Willies as I found it very fun and reminded me of the show Are You Afraid Of The Dark that I was watching every week. Later on I would go on to own the film on VHS and now on DVD, and while it’s not one I re-watch super often I still enjoy watching it and can say I recommend it for horror fans who have not seen it before. My favorite story in this film is “Bad Apples” that’s about a monster in a school bathroom who gets revenge on bullies! The monster effects remind me of monsters used in the TV show Tales From The Darkside and the payout of what and who the monster is reminds me of an episode of Goosebumps! I think the main reason I really dig this movie is the fact that I love the idea of sitting around the dark woods sharing spooky stores as it reminds me of my youth and telling scary stories to friends in school or making up monsters and such with my cousins! I also enjoy the fact that the film also has smaller little spooky stories that are based on Urban Legends that we have all heard before. Plus I love the use of practical effects for everything as I think the monsters as well as the gore effects are pretty solid for this low budget of a film.

So now that we have taken a look at The Willies in film as well as two of the main monsters of the film, we should now dive into the comic book that was made to help promote the movie. I am not sure what to expect from this comic as it’s unclear whether it’s an adaptation or new stories told by the brothers and their cousin. So this element of surprise is making this read even better for me! So I first want to thank a vendor at the Monsterbash Convention for having this in stock and thanks to them I learned that this comic even existed. So with that, let’s sit around a camp fire and kick off October right and give this comic a good read and see if we can spook ourselves silly.

The Willies # 1  ***
Released in 1991     Cover Price $1.95     Force Majeure   # 1 of 1

A group of youths are sitting in a tent telling each other spooky stories that include the woman who ate a fried rat at a fast food restaurant, the old man who died of a heart attack after going into a carnival’s haunted house as well as the old woman who put her dog in the microwave to dry it off! Finally one of the boys gets into his story that is about a young boy named Danny Hollister who is being picked on at school and is helped out by the school’s janitor named Mr. Jenkins who tells the youngster he will take care of the bullies! Danny leads his bullies as well as his mean spirited teacher to the bathroom where they meet their end at the hands of a monster who is in fact the janitor! Next another of the youths tells a story of Gordy, a mean fat kid who steals from a local farmer as well as likes to rip the wings off flies he captures. Well one day the Farmer gets fed up with Gordy and gives him some special chemical enhanced soil for his flies that in fact turns the fly’s human size and they get their revenge by ripping the arms of the terrible youth! After the stories the youth begin to argue that none of the stories were real when one of their fathers show up to reveal that he in fact is the monster who killed the bullies!

I must say that this is a promo comic adaptation done right as it stays faithful to the film and yet cuts just enough to make it a fast paced read that captures the fun spooky nature of the flick. The film’s plot is very simple and is much like any horror anthology comic or film as we have stories being shared that all end with Twilight Zone style twists that by the end all turn out to be true. The Three Kids are your typical group of friends spending time hanging out in the woods and sharing stories they think will shock and scare the others.  While we get to know them as friends we do not get to know their personalities all that well besides one of them has lead the other two to their deaths at the hands of his monster father. It makes you wonder, did the two kids who meet their end by the comic’s conclusion pick on the third kid and that’s why he wanted his dad to kill them? The main monster of this comic series has to be the Bully Killing Monster as he massacres at least six people in the course of this comic! While at first it seems like he is nothing more than an avenger for the weak by the end it makes you wonder if he just likes to kill! The Mutated Flies are also kind of the bad guys as they do rip the arms off of a kid, but if you really want to break them down, Farmer Spivey the one who made the soil mixed with chemicals is the real baddie as he made that batch that mutated the flies with the idea that they would kill Gordy! The comic has a few good creepy moments as it captures a real EC Comic appeal with twisted tales that have morbid outcomes, the only difference is that this comic is pretty much bloodless and that’s a shame as even the film had a little of the red stuff. The comics cover is really amazing and would capture the eye of fans of the film as well as Horror Comic readers. The interior art is done by Brain Murray and is fantastic stuff as he captures the mood and even the look of the actors and characters from the film and is really great stuff. So over all, fans of this film should find this comic and give it a read as it’s amazing and will surly please, but I must warn that this comic is hard to find so if you do find a copy make sure to buy it! Check out some of the art below to see Murray’s art style.

The Willies might not be a household name when it comes to the world of Horror Films but it does have a solid and loyal cult fan base that I feel will grow more and more over the years. I also think that its great that this film did get the comic treatment as it is one that I think lends itself to being one. So with our next update we will be staying in the world of From Horror Movie To Horror Comic and will be taking a look at Jason X the tenth film in the Friday The 13th film series and the comic from Avatar Press based on Uber Jason from the film. So until next time, tell a ghost story or three, read a horror comic or two and as always support your local Horror Host. I hope this update didn’t give you The Willies too badly as our month of Horror updates has just started see you in space for the next one!