Sunday, October 7, 2012

Waxwork vs. Full Eclipse

Vampires, a werewolf, the mummy, Frankenstein's monster, zombies, and more all together in one movie? That can't possibly be bad, right? How about a werewolf cop flick? Uhm, ok, doesn't sound the greatest, but surely, one of these has to be good... yes? No? Please say yes. So what do they have in common? Both were directed by Anthony Hickox. Of the two, I was betting on Waxwork (1988). After all, who doesn't love '80s horror? Aliens, The Thing, Predator, The Fly, etc. Waxwork has to be better. But I actually prefer Full Eclipse (1993). Yes, the werewolf movie where there isn't a single werewolf until the end (and even then it looks pretty damn awful... werebear attack!). Who needs werewolves when you get a bunch of bone-claw Wolverines! Why do I like this again?

For one, the writing is actually a lot better. Right from the start, they twist a boring old cop-movie cliche and make it interesting. They even have a little slow-motion shootout obviously inspired by the Hong Kong gunplay master. You definitely get your squib fix, and none of that bloodless PG-13 shit. Then you have Bruce Payne. You might remember him from Passenger 57... or maybe not, but the guy is a phenomenal actor who knows how to play a villain. He gives his character the kind of manipulative charm, class, and lethal unpredictability that great theatrically-trained European actors are known for. He would’ve been right at home in a Die Hard sequel (guess that was Passenger 57). But he definitely reminds me of Alan Rickman.

Why is this photo here?

Patsy Kensit, the pretty damsel-in-distress from Lethal Weapon 2, also plays a key role although this film has the paradox of a sex scene without nudity, and it commits this crime not once but twice; however, it still manages to make those scenes work so it probably deserves even more credit. Yes, the werewolf transformation at the end sucks (actually, it’s pretty damn funny), and I hate werewolf movies that don’t have werewolves, but regardless, Full Eclipse is a lot of fun. It's almost like a bloody X-Men.

Uhm, yeah, my eyes just begged for mercy.

So why didn't I like Waxwork? Of course, you'll recognize Zach Galligan from Gremlins, but unlike that classic, his character here is awful. He isn't sympathetic or fascinating, much less cool, badass, funny, etc. He just seems like a rich jerk who complains about not getting his coffee. Then in the next scene when he immediately gets his caffeine and a cigarette, he blows smoke in the butler's face. The girl he likes says over and over how crappy he is while she comes off as self-absorbed and heartless. The true love interest doesn't get much development at all until later (and there ain't much to her except she likes being whipped). Nobody is really worth caring about so the first third of the movie is a painful slog through boringville while you wait for the monsters to show up.

Team Expendable.

Spoiler time. They give some bizarre explanation for how the whole wax-museum ghost display thingies work. Something about the owner sold his soul to the devil, but then they throw in some Voodoo mumbo jumbo too. Wasn't the devil story enough? Why does the guy need Voodoo as well? What the heck is up with the German midget and the tall Lester-type guy who acts like a baby when he's scolded? Whatever. The movie is kinda a mess. They say the world will end if the exhibits are finished, but that happens yet all they have to do is burn down the museum to stop it? Ok.

The film has a really strange opening scene too. A guy is murdered and burned alive, but they have swing music playing in the background... why? It turns out that poor bastard was the main character's grandfather. So we're supposed to laugh at his death or what? Nice confusing tone right at the beginning. After our hero Mark loses two friends to the museum, he's allowed to walk right out. Why? So the story can continue? Is that it? Wouldn't the owner stop him and throw him in an exhibit? He does later so why not earlier?

Cool.

I did like the short mummy scene and the finale is pretty entertaining. Plus, I love seeing so many different kinds of monsters together. It's just a shame the rest of it wasn't better.

Neither one is perfect (not by a long shot), and Full Eclipse has nothing on Demon Knight (my favorite horror film from the '90s), but up against Waxwork, I got to go with the Wolverine cops.

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