Movie: Waxwork II: Lost in Time (1992)

Waxwork surprised me by being better than I anticipated, so I was curious why it only has one sequel.  After all, many deeply terrible horror movies have spawned seemingly endless progeny.  I don’t feel I need to see Witchcraft to tell you it isn’t worthy of the sixteen installments that series has to date.

1992’s Waxwork II: Lost in Time is a strange animal.  Continuing the anthology-like structure of the first film, this one has the same two protagonists jumping around in time.

That central conceit is an interesting idea, but what I found endlessly annoying is they somehow go from one fictional world to the other.  Our characters end up in what are basically parodies/tributes to Alien, The Haunting (spliced with The Legend of Hell House), Frankenstein, Nosferatu, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Dawn of the Dead, Godzilla and, maybe, The Princess Bride (not sure on that last one).

Obviously, director Anthony Hickox has good taste in movies.  Unfortunately, all these references simply cutter up the screen.  I largely found myself feel bored, except during a finale that hyperactively bounces across genres. 

This sequel picks up exactly where the last left off, with our young lovers fleeing the burning mansion.  This time, however, Deborah Foreman has been replaced by Monika Schnarre, an actress who resembles Foreman is no way whatsoever.  In addition to being about a foot taller, she doesn’t look or sound like the other actress.  Also, while Schnarre isn’t bad, per se, Foreman is the better performer overall.

Another carryover from the first picture is that mischievous and murderous severed hand which survived the mayhem at the conclusion.  When Schnarre returns home, it kills her abusive stepfather in a development that is awfully “handy”.  I’ll just let the Crypt Keeper know his job is safe.

She disposes of the killer hand in the trash compactor.  In the resulting trial where she is accused of patricide (step-patricide?), she and boyfriend Zach Galligan decide they need proof such phenomenon as sentient disembodied hands with the potential to kill exist.  They are given the opportunity to find such proof, courtesy of exposition provided by Patrick Macnee in a film he made of himself for Galligan and Schnarre to watch after his death.  Kind of like a video will.

Speaking of the concept of a “video will”, this scene is an example of the many elements of this picture that stuck in my craw to the point where they distracted me from losing myself in the plot.  He met Zach not too long before his death in the first movie, so I doubt he had time to film himself, have the film developed and ready to view through a projector he has already set-up.

Macnee will reappear later in a brief scene where he voices a raven.  In a moment that seriously knotted by tighty whities, he responds to Galligan’s exasperation for why Macnee is now a raven with this fourth-wall break: “It’s the only way they’d allow me to appear in this one.”  Also quoth the raven, the reason these jumps through time are into fictional worlds is because they are in “God’s Nintendo game.”  Huh.

If there was one thing I found fault in the previous film is it crossed my gore tolerance threshold in a couple of scene.  Still, there was a goofy vibe that helped to make those scenes more palatable, so it was a bit like Evil Dead II in that regard.  So it wasn’t too much of a surprise this ones apes Army of Darkness, by reducing the gore and increasing the comedy.  That Bruce Campbell appears in one segment of this only convinces me this was their intention.

He is in a black-and-white segment that riffs on The Haunting.  If this move prompts anybody to see that 1964 film, then it will increase my esteem for it.  On the other hand, this segment is interspersed with a rip-off of Alien.  The contrast between these segments is jarring and irritating. 

Something else which consistently irritated me is how Galligan and Schnarre have their hair and clothing automatically adjusted in each time jump so as to be appropriate for the era.  Except Galligan is wearing the same t-shirt throughout the feature whenever he isn’t wearing a shirt with a collar high enough to obscure it.

I also feel compelled to call out the incongruous music in a medieval-set segment.  The music sounds like knock-off Enigma, that group which set Gregorian chants to an electronic dance track.  Let’s see…when was this movie made?  1992?  Yep, that’s when that stuff was popular for about a week.

In my review of the first movie, I mentioned the many bizarre parallels I saw to Cabin in the Woods.  There’s a scene in the sequel that is even more uncanny, as we see a room full of objects Macnee collected from the supernatural world.  As they examine these artifacts, I kept expecting Galligan or Schnarre to accidentally summon creatures that will kill them.  Galligan would not stop playing with a bloody hockey mask, so I was hoping this would unleash “Kevin” from Woods, as I always suspected that character is a play on Jason from Friday the 13th.

The disembodied hand in both Waxwork films also reminded me of Woods (the scene where a zombie hand kills Eli Roth).  I was irritated when Schnarre dispatches of the hand so early in this sequel.  In the end, I would have rather watched an entire movie of that hand as it stumbles into one escapade after another.

Dir: Anthony Hickox

Starring: Zach Galligan, Monika Schnarre

Watched on Vestron Video blu-ray