Features and Columns · Movies

28 Things We Learned from the Waxwork Commentary

“A good casting director is the most important thing in a movie.”
Waxwork
By  · Published on October 26th, 2016

Waxwork (1988)

Commentator: Anthony Hickox (writer/director), Zach Galligan (actor)

1. Galligan’s character name, Mark Loftmore, was chosen because it sounded “very rich.”

2. Hickox got his shot at making his first movie after visiting Los Angeles and crashing into another car. The driver, Staffan Ahrenberg (Jersey Girl, The Quiet American), was looking for a script to produce, so Hickox wrote Waxwork over four days and the pair moved forward.

3. They were turned down by every studio they approached, including Vestron, but once the company’s head read the script he reversed the decision and made it a Vestron production.

4. The house used as the waxwork’s exterior is still there, but the owner has grown a hedge around it to make it less visible and discourage Waxwork fans from looking for photo ops.

5. This was Hickox’s first feature, but he was never nervous during production. Well, not until the completion bond people arrived saying they were out of money and needed to wrap it up. The result was a heavily truncated end battle.

6. The film was budgeted at $3 million.

7. Galligan recalls thinking that he was “fat and overweight” during the film but feels better about it now. This will be a recurring theme in his commentary.

8. Mihaly ‘Michu’ Meszaros, who plays the diminutive butler Hans, is also featured on the album cover for The Doors’ Strange Days.

9. They point out that the actors playing the wax figures are doing a pretty poor job of staying still. “Hold your breath for fuck’s sake,” adds Hickox.

10. The vampire sequence originally came before the werewolf one, but they swapped them as the latter serves as a better introduction into the workings of the film’s conceit.

11. The werewolf exteriors were shot in Los Angeles’ Griffith Park.

12. Hickox’s father, Douglas, was a director as well. Some of his films include Zulu Dawn, Brannigan, and Theatre of Blood.

13. He asked Bob Keen, the film’s head of makeup design, for a Howling-like werewolf.

14. The guy who gets ripped in half by the werewolf is played by Hickox’s brother.

15. The human flesh being eaten at the vampire dinner is actually made of rhubarb, watermelon, and strawberries.

16. Galligan asks if there were any horror/sci-fi classics Hickox wishes he could have crammed into the film, and the director says he would have loved to add Alien and Invasion of the Body Snatchers. This is what sequels are for.

17. The blue dress glimpsed behind Galligan at the police station at the 46:30 mark is a nod to Crimes of Passion.

18. Galligan hates that Hickox made him tuck his shirt in for the scene where his character leads the police into the wax museum. He recalls catching the movie on USA’s Up All Night once and hearing host Gilbert Gottfried say “We’ll be right back with Waxwork starring Zach Galligan after forty cheeseburgers.”

19. The Teamsters occasionally heckled the production by shining mirrors in the actors’ faces as a protest for the film being a non-union production.

20. Galligan had the most trouble with the scene where he pretends to be sick in order to get Sarah (Deborah Foreman) out of class. “I still think I’m pretty bad in it.”

21. Hickox ‐ inexplicably ‐ thinks he didn’t succeed in making Foreman look sexy in the attic sequence where she’s sweaty and clenching the fabric of her dress. The pic below is from a later scene, but the point is Foreman is a terrific actress.

22. The director mentions that he “was meant to do” 1999’s The Mummy “but didn’t get” the job. He doesn’t say why, but he got his revenge by making two back to back Dolph Lundgren movies instead.

23. Hickox’s father had always told him never wait to shoot the end of your film last because you will usually run out of money or time. It happened here, and his four days of planned time-hopping action had to be minimized to a single day. “So we had to do a pub fight.”

24. Matt Dillon’s hair was apparently dyed purple for filming the black & white film Rumble Fish, so they tried something similar here for the Night of the Living Dead segment. Galligan’s hair was dyed blonde. It looked “horrible, preposterous” in real life ‐ “I looked like Jared Leto in Suicide Squad” ‐ but it looked good on screen.

25. Hickox is really down on the film’s ending. The completion bond issues mentioned above forced him to make multiple compromises, and he hates how small it all feels. The miniature house model is especially grating to him ‐ even more so in HD. Even China’s (Michelle Johnson) vampire teeth are embarrassing to him. “We’d run out of teeth,” he says, adding that they’re just white chocolates stuck to her lip.

26. Clare Carey, who plays Gemma, was supposed to say “I know you always wanted to fuck me Mark. Fuck me!” but she could never bring herself to say it. They changed it to “Take me!” instead.

27. The credits remind them both that Kane Hodder was a stunt man on the film.

28. Hickox thanks his inspirations in the end credits with a dedication to “Hammer, Argento, Romero, Dante, Landis, Spielberg, Wells, Carpenter, Mum and Dad,” and Galligan asks if that’s H.G. Wells. Hickox says no, it’s Orson, to which Galligan points out Orson Welles has an ‘E’ in it. “Because I’m a terrible fucking speller,” says a sheepish Hickox.

Best in Context-Free Commentary

“Did we see the blowjob?”

“We didn’t get a lot of racism on this, but we probably should of.”

“Ah, back to the teachers as Hitler motif.”

“Women always look better with their mouths open. And she does it very well.”

Waxworks Compilation [Blu-ray]

Final Thoughts

This is a fun track with anecdotes and laughs, but there are two immediate takeaways about Hickox and Galligan. Namely, the director is a real horn-dog, and the actor is an incredibly knowledgeable movie buff. They became friends in real life, and that relationship is clear in the commentary as they share an appreciation for each other’s work and a recognition of the fun film they made together. This new Blu-ray should be a blind buy for genre fans for an HD version of the film itself, but the commentary and a feature length making-of doc make a pick-up even more of a no-brainer.

Read more Commentary Commentary from the archives.

Related Topics: , ,

Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.