Waxwork II: Lost in Time (1992)

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Directed by Anthony Hickox
Starring Zach Galligan, Monika Schnarre, Alexander Godunov and Bruce Campbell

BMM Keywords: so bad it's good, Incomprehensible, Schlock, Egregious violence/gore, Uncalled for post-modernism.

    A sequel to 1988's campy schlock-horror romp Waxwork, in which the usual crowd of stupid beautiful teenagers suffer a series of gruesome fates at the hands of the exhibits in a waxworks museum. Waxwork's shtick was making the exhibits doorways into other worlds, allowing the various teen victims to be drawn into scenes homaging various horror genres and settings, before finally being gorily despatched

    In the sequel, Mark Loftmore and Sarah Brightman (not the singer), after escaping from the burning ruin of the museum, are pursued by a disembodied hand, which proceeds to murder Sarah's stepfather before being shoved down the waste disposal, leaving Sarah facing a murder charge. In an attempt to prove her outlandish story, Mark and Sarah go to the house of the now deceased Sir Wilfred, an ageing, wheelchair-bound warrior-against-evil (played briefly but gleefully by Patrick Macnee), who died helping them destroy the Waxworks, in search of evidence. Here they learn that Sir Wilfred has left Mark his collection of strange artefacts, collected by himself and Mark's grandfather in their 'adventures through the supernatural'.

    One of these artefacts (kept alongside the hockey mask from Friday the 13th, the Nazi crate containing the Ark of the Covenant and others) is a Cartagrian Time-Door Opener, a kind of stylish wood and brass compass which opens a swirly door in a mirror. Mark and Sarah go through the portal to search for more tangible evidence, and thus begins the first main thread of the movie, in which Mark and Sarah travel through a series of short homages: Frankenstein, Legend of Hell House and Alien form the basis of the three episodes, but references to other movies find their way in. Through these travels, Mark finds himself remaining aware of who he is, a la Sam Beckett in Quantum Leap, but Sarah is sucked into various characters, forgetting who she really is when not around Mark.

    After these episodes, the second main strand comes in; an elongated segment set in a pseudo-medieval England where the vile and decadent Scarabis (played by evil ballet dancer Alexander Godunov) torments his people while planning to take over the kingdom by abducting and replacing King Arthur through black magic. Mark is thrown in a dungeon, where Sir Wilfred finds him in the form of a post-modern raven ('this was the only way they'd let me appear in this one') and tells him that he and Sarah have stumbled into Cartagra - 'God's Nintendo game' - where good and evil time warriors take on different roles to fight in battles for the fate of the real world.

    Needless to say, the raven frees Mark and he thwarts the dastardly plan, engaging in a final duel in which the time-door opener becomes activated, allowing Mark and Scarabis to pass through time as they fight. In the course of the duel, they encounter Jack the Ripper (and feed him to Nosferatu), Mr Hyde, Godzilla and a horde of zombies in a shopping mall (a la Dawn of the Dead). Finally they come back to where they started, and Scarabis is killed by one of his own creations, proving that sophisticated irony and gratuitous head-being-pulled-off gore are not mutually exclusive. Sarah goes home with a hand taken from one of the zombies while Mark remains in Cartagra to be a time warrior. Once found innocent she receives a package from Ye Olde courier company containing a time-door opener, and an invitation to join Mark in Cartagra.

What's Wrong With It?

    Lost in Time is an Anthony Hickox movie, and suffers from all of his usual failings. The plot is ludicrous, the dialogue garbled, and the performances more full of ham than a pig farm. There is an excess of egregious and almost cartoonish gore (more people have their heads torn from their shoulders in the course of this movie than - probably - in all other movies in history combined), and Hickox is a little overfond of the 'fountain of blood' effect. If you don't like gore, the movie can do nothing for you.

What's Right With It?

    Well, it's fun in a gory kind of way, it has absolutely no pretensions and the cast seem to have their tongues firmly in cheek, especially Bruce Campbell in the Hell House section. It also shows a remarkable degree of invention, and comes up with an almost original premise, which could easily have been wasted on a too-serious TV movie.

How Bad is it Really?

    Extremely bad, but in quite a fun way if you don't mind the gratuitous bloodshed.

Best Bit?

    In the Hell House section, John Loftmore (Bruce Campbell) has been tied spread-eagle on a wooden frame, his chest cut open to the ribs and an eagle has been pecking at his innards. Despite this, he remains very together and stiff upper-lipped. Then the possessed Elenore (Sophie Ward) starts throwing things at Mark, who dodges each, only for them to hit John in the face or ribs. Elenore hefts a heavy sack, labelled 'Bag 'O Salt'.

John: Oh no.
Elenore throws, Mark dodges, and the salt goes all over John's exposed ribs. He screams. Mark knocks out Elenore.
John: Water! Water.
Mark grabs a bottle and throws the contents over John's chest, washing off the salt. John screams louder. Mark looks, and sees that the bottle is labelled 'Vinegar'.
Mark: Sorry.
John: (tightly controlled) It's alright. It's going numb.

What's Up With...?

    It's frankly pointless to try to pick holes in an Anthony Hickox film. The whole thing is an exercise in the absurd and the unnecessary, so pointing out its logical inconsistencies is like complaining that, even if a mouse could lift a frying pan, the cat's head wouldn't go pan-shaped when he got hit with it.


Production Values - Not great, but on the other hand the movie does manage to create at least seven fairly distinct settings. Costume and set design is actually fairly impressive, although maybe they just stole whatever was on the nearby sets. The special effects aren't all that special, and most of that budget seems to have gone on the gallons of fake blood. 12

Dialogue and performances - In places the dialogue is laughable, in others incomprehensible. The performances are well and truly overcooked. 14

Plot and execution - When all is said and done, the plot is really an excuse for the various sections, and the sections are merely excuses for a series of in-jokes, pastiches, homages and - of course - brutal decapitations. There are attempts to weld the whole thing into a coherent narrative, but only just. 16

Randomness - A number of characters are only named in the credits, including King Arthur and John Loftmore. Much of the film makes sense only with reference to other films. A lot seems like it might have been included only because it seemed like a good idea at the time. There is little consistent sense of mood, as the grimmest scenes may suddenly veer off into slapstick with the abandon of Hong Kong cinema. 14

Waste of Potential - Not really. It's a shlocky gory comedy, and pretty good at it too. 0.

Overall: 56%


Omega Doom (1996)

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Directed by Albert Pyun.
Starring Rutger Hauer and Shannon Whirry.

BMM Keywords: Wasted potential, Incomprehensible.

    You can hear the pitch: "It's Yojimbo/A Fistful of Dollars. With robots!"

    A gang of servo-hissing, electric, killer breakdancers engage in a good, old-fashioned Mexican stand-off against a clique of reverb-voiced, moody, lethal proto-Goth New Romantics over a cache of guns supposedly buried under a patch of post-apocalyptic wasteland.

    Rutger Hauer, as a robot reprogrammed by what appears to be a bunch of druids to protect a resurgent humanity from the robot gangs, enters the fray. As an 'Upgraded Model 5.5' he is half-way between the older 'droids' (breakdancers) and the more sophisticated 'roms' (proto-Goths), and plays the two gangs off against each other, aided by a talking head and a robot bartender.

What's wrong with it?

    The direction in Omega Doom is pretty lacklustre. The tension-building shots are overlong and do less to build tension than to breed boredom. Perhaps an effective score would have helped here, but there isn't one. All of the music is pretty forgettable really. Also, while the relative brevity of the film is perhaps something to be grateful for, it rather does away with the slow-burning nature of the essential story.

What right with it?

    The different robot factions - droids, roms and drones - are nicely distinguished in terms of look, although the droids are never given much to do. The idea is also not without merit, and the film hides a great deal of potential behind its facile surface. As is often the case however, the presence of such potential in such a fundamentally misbegotten film is more of a points against than for.

How bad is it really?

    Pretty poor.

Best bit?

    There really, really isn't one.

What's up with...?


Production Values - Not bad over all. There isn't much in the way of special effects, aside from a few energy blasts and a bunch of mechanical hissing and reverb, but this is definitely to the film's - ultimately wasted - benefit. The sound quality isn't great, meaning that much of the dialogue is indecipherable, although some might see this as a redeeming feature. 7

Dialogue and Performances - Pretty naf. Rutger Hauer not at his worst, but certainly pretty damned wooden. Second-billed Shannon Whirry - following fellow former soft-core porno actresses Tracy Lords and Shannon Tweed in a bid to become respectable via tacky DTV action movies and thrillers - out-planks the wood-meister, and while Anna Katarina and William Zieggler as the Bartender and the Head show some talent, they aren't given much to work with. The remainder of the cast are acceptable, but absolutely nothing to write home about. The script isn't great and is filled with bizarre snippets of pseudo-philosophy, which detract more than they add to the atmosphere. 12

Plot and Execution - It's as if having made the pitch, no further work went into the plot. There's almost no characterisation either, so we don't really care much who lives and who dies. The duels all tend to involve over-long staring matches (maybe not so long as in Fistful of Dollars, but then they don't have an Ennio Morricone soundtrack, and that makes a whole lot of difference), and because there isn't much of an effect for the funky plasma knives they fight with, they tend to be shot so that the impact point is obscured, and all we really see is a flash of light just off the screen. It might also have been nice to have some attempt to explain what these weapons are and how they work. The worst thing about the execution of the film is that it seems to be the major stumbling block for an otherwise fair concept. 18

Randomness - Well, in a lot of ways the whole damn film is pretty random, but often in a good way. While the breakdancers vs. new romantics shtick is a bit weird, in aesthetic terms it does actually kind of work. On the other hand, we are given no real explanation as to why Omega Doom was reprogrammed by druids (I mean; druids?), and in fact we only know he's called Omega Doom from an opening and closing narration. In the film itself he calls himself Guardian Angel, which makes it sound like he should be a futuristic interceptor pilot chick in a white catsuit. 16

Waste of Potential - Hell yeah. The film has solid potential, bearing a tried-and-tested storyline, with a perfectly workable twist. And it has nothing much going for it. Could most definitely try harder. 18.

Overall - 61%


Sanctuary (1997)

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"From hood to priesthood."

Inflicted by Tibor Takacs.
Perpetrated by Mark Dacascos (which readers may come to think of as 'all you need to know') and friends.

BMM Keywords: So bad it hurts, So bad it hurts (yes, it deserves to be repeated), Dull, Incomprehensible, Gratuitous sex, Egregious violence/gore, Marc Dacascos.

    OK; so there's this priest, right. Only he's really an assassin, in hiding, after doing something he can't face. A series of flashbacks reveal that he was part of an elite team, trained from childhood, loyal only to their commander, etc, etc. After years living quietly as a priest, they come after him, and he and his former lover have to shoot some people and reveal assorted nefariousness.

    Um...That's pretty much it. There's probably some soul-searching involved somewhere.

What's wrong with it?

    Sanctuary is a film so dismal I can't even be bothered to write more of a plot summary than I gave above. It's full of dull characters, engaging in dull fights and even duller conversations. It's very difficult to become engaged enough to care whether any of them live or die, except that maybe you want them off the damned screen. I only remember the lead character's name is Father Luke because that's my name.

What's right with it?

    Actually, nothing. Really, seriously, nothing.

How bad is it really?

    Sanctuary is awesomely, mind-numbingly, stomach-churningly, soul-destroyingly bad. Only sheer bloody-mindedness kept me awake through the whole thing, and I wasn't even tired. It's suffocatingly boring, packed with characters who don't even cease to be boring when they're being cartoonishly evil or unpleasant.

Best bit?

    The end credits came as something of a relief.

What's up with...?

    It's a little difficult to write this section, mostly because in the case of Sanctuary, I just don't care enough.


Production Values - Poor. The dialogue is mumbled (this is a common flaw in this breed of film; they think characters who can't speak above a whisper unless they're screaming in barely coherent rage automatically seem deep and sensitive), and many scenes underlit. It's all pretty cheap and dismal. 18

Dialogue and Performances - I've seen worse, but then I have seen some very poor performances. The dialogue is pretty poor, and unforgivably, is not even memorably poor. 19

Plot and Execution - No real effort has been put into developing or moving the narrative. Many of the primary plot junctures are ill-explained and nonsensical:
"I'm the new member of your team, who have trained and lived together since childhood. No way I'll be trouble."
"We need blackmail material against our new Congressional overseer; let's trick him into killing one of our best operatives on camera."
"We've lost them! No wait; I've picked them up on the plot-cam!"
In short: Dire. 20

Randomness - Aside from the above-mentioned narrative 'eccentricities', there isn't a great deal of randomness. Unless you count the order of assassin-priests who recruit Father Luke at the end of the film. They're pretty random. And the sporadic, almost spontaneous nature of the attempts on Father Luke's life probably count. 10

Waste of Potential - This could have been a nice little thriller about an assassin in hiding, whose past catches up with him. The idea of a team trained together since childhood was a good one, but the film would have needed much more work to make something of it. 15.

Overall - 82%