It happened. With aid from my glamorous assistant, I managed to get hold of the sequel to Waxwork; the wonderfully named Waxwork II: Lost in Time. Clearly, the sequel completes the grand vision begun in the first film, as it is again directed and written by Anthony Hickox. In the sequel, however, Monika Schnarre replaces Deborah Foreman as the female lead, Sarah. Apparently Foreman turned down the role. This is only really a shame because the narrative of the second film carries directly on from the first, replaying the original ending then showing Sarah and Mark escaping the blaze in the eponymous Waxworks and clambering into a taxi – where the actress playing Sarah now has hair about four times longer than the previous actress (never heard of wigs, people?) Also, she has a completely different face. The events of the night also appear to have aged Mark by four or five years, but now I’m just being picky.
As their wax-related night-time adventures have drawn to a close, Mark drops Sarah home. Here, the audience are given a reasonably interesting insight into her back-story; she has an abusive stepfather waiting for her at home (their relationship clarified by the fact that she calls him “stepfather” in a seamless piece of exposition.) This scene is not the most subtle piece of character-driven cinema, but is nevertheless a clear attempt to add another dimension to Sarah’s character.
Sarah’s adventures are far from over. The severed wax hand of David Warner’s villain from Waxwork, the ‘does-what-it-says-on-the-tin’ character named ‘Waxwork Man’ has followed them home. The wax hand (keep up, keep up!) brutally kills Sarah’s stepfather with a succession of hammer blows to the head and she is left with the body and the blame. There is however, no evidence, because she has forced the disembodied, murderous hand down the garbage disposal. Yes, I love this film.
Surprisingly, Sarah’s defence hearing is not going well and Mark volunteers to help her out. They visit the home of his godfather, Sir Wilfred (in a role reprised briefly by Patrick Macnee) and discover that he has left them a message… he somehow magically cued up his projector to start when they somehow, also magically I assume, gained access to his home. Sir Wilfred reveals that, seeing as he must now be dead, he has left everything he owns to Mark.
After a cute Alice in Wonderland reference involving moving chess pieces and stepping through mirrors, Mark and Sarah find themselves amongst Sir Wilfred’s legacy; a variety of strange artefacts which amount to the audience as relics of horror pop culture; there’s even a blood-spattered ‘Jason Voorhees’ style hockey mask.
Then Mark finds the time-door opener and has the notion that they could use it to re-enter the waxwork exhibit and bring back some evidence to help Sarah’s case. However, a door opens up before them almost straight away, and this is where the films involvement with waxworks ends; about fifteen minutes into the hour and three-quarters long movie.
After some dodgy special effects to signify the main characters falling through the very fabric of time and reality itself, Mark and Sarah land in a very different place. One of the more endearing touches is that Mark and Sarah’s outfits and overall look changes in each location they visit; Sarah even occasionally forgets who she is, becoming part of the story so that Mark must always talk her back around to their mission. The first stop is the home of Baron von Frankenstein, played by Martin Kemp with an accent that sounds like a strained Schwarzenegger impression, and who looks like he is having a whale of a time.
Waxwork II: Lost in Time feels very much like you are watching a writer-director make the exact film he wants to make, albeit in pastiche. The times and places in which Mark and Sarah find themselves are not real places or even real points in history, they are essentially well known moments from the horror genre; including Godzilla, Nosferatu, Dawn of the Dead, Jekyll and Hyde and even Alien. Hickox takes every opportunity to shoot versions of scenes from films or stories he has clearly always wanted to try; it’s as if he’s stapled several disparate ideas for films together and, although you can most definitely see the holes, the whole (sorry!) is still greater than the sum of its parts.
Sir Wilfred makes a reappearance later on in the film as a raven. This makes absolutely no sense at all, but does provide the audience with sufficient nonsense to enable them to sew the fragments of the plot together. Sir Wilfred, in raven form of course, explains that what Mark and Sarah have stumbled upon isn’t in fact a series of doors into different times, but “God’s Nintendo game” – a battle between good and evil where the results have disastrous effects on the real world. Although this would seem to make aspects of the plot make more sense, it also invalidates other aspects, so it’s not worth thinking about in too much detail. Neither is the notion that Mark has been especially selected by God to be some sort of holy Time Warrior.
Most of the second half of the film takes place in a fantasy version of a strangely kinky Medieval court, complete with; oddly jarring early nineties dance music, occult practices, bondage wear, men wearing too much make up, the notion of brother-sister incest and exotic dancers. It’s worth sticking around for.
This sequel plays up the comedic-gore element even more than in the first film, thus clarifying my initial confusion as to whether or not the violence in the first film was even supposed to be humorous. In this second film, people get their eyeballs and brains shot out across the room from the very head in which they reside. In another scene, an alien taps a tentacle against someone’s back to get their attention before removing their space helmet and causing their head to explode. My favourite moment of light-hearted grossness, however, is the poor fellow who has casually been strung up in a haunted basement with his entire ribcage exposed and goes on to suffer a series of slapstick indignities, taking it all in a calm and gentlemanly manner.
There are also some interesting cameo appearances; such as Max Caulfield of Grease 2 (1982) fame, Kill Bill’s (2003) David Carradine and a very brief, blink-and-you’ll miss it appearance from Drew Barrymore in the scene which gives far more than just a nod to Nosferatu (1922). It was also lovely for a Star Trek: The Next Generation nerd like me to see Marina Sirtis in anything which gets her off the Enterprise for a change. Hickox himself even has a cameo as the King’s Officer (he also guests in the first film as the English Prince, a friend of the Marquis de Sade.)
The final delight (or the final nail, depending on how you see it) of the film comes with some unpredictably offbeat end credits; a rap seemingly commissioned especially for the film. I’ll say no more, I’ve already said too much…
There is a brief exchange in Waxwork II: Lost in Time that sums up the entire ethos of the film – and those involved in its making – perfectly. “You don’t think we should prepare all this a little more, do you?” Sarah asks her companion nervously. “Don’t worry, it’s going to turn out fine,” Mark replies to her dismissively… And for the most part it does.