Traumafession:: Ben Sher of Eyes of Ben Sher on Waxwork’s VHS Box

Every horror fan of a certain age talks about it. The thrill of the VHS covers in the horror section at the video store. They were so deliciously unlike anything that existed in life that you couldn’t imagine what sorts of evil magic those tapes contained. The first image that drew me to the horror section was actually a “New Release” poster on the wall for the movie Waxwork (1988, Anthony Hickox). I was enchanted by the image of a redheaded little person in a tuxedo standing in front of a huge door filled with screaming heads. The image seemed strange and yet familiar, unnerving and yet comforting, as though I had experienced it in another life.

I realize that I must have started renting horror movies before I knew how to read, because I remember pointing to the poster and asking my mother to read me the title and the movie’s tagline: “Stop on by and give the afterlife a try.” I wanted to, desperately. The idea of a doorway that opened to a world filled with formal wear, screaming heads, weird lighting, and hot pink credits fonts appealed to me then as much as it does now. I insisted on renting it, and miraculously, my mother obliged.

When I watched the film, I was actually disappointed. I’ve now seen it multiple times and I still can’t remember what it’s about. Something about Zach Galligan and Deborah Foreman going to a wax museum in the middle of the night and entering the exhibits. Waxwork proved to be a rite of passage that every young horror nerd must go through: I learned that the image on the cover doesn’t always take place in the film. I didn’t like it, but I would be forced to experience it again and again.

Ironically, even though Waxwork disappointed me because it did not feature a scene in which a redheaded little person opened a gigantic door to a wild and wonderful world of strange, sublimely beautiful faces and weird lighting, that is precisely what Waxwork‘s poster, and the video store, did for me. They welcomed me in to the wild and wonderful world of horror movies, a world in which you could find anything you wanted and needed.

More of Ben’s video store memories HERE!

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9 years ago

My reaction to the more gruesome VHS box covers differed from Ben’s. I was also intrigued but there was no sense of invitation. Sometimes VHS cover art alone could keep me up at night – there was no way that I was going to watch the actual videos.

Some examples of covers that sent me packing:

The Driller Killer (the really bloody one)

9 years ago

Admittedly, it was the box art that drew me in pick this up at the video store many years ago. I wasn’t disappointed however, I loved the many horror film references in the wax displays. This was low budget and a bit cheesy but I love it all the same.
This was one of the first horror films I picked up on DVD, its sequel “Waxwork 2” came as a double feature. “Waxwork 2” wasn’t as good, but had more film references and Bruce campbell to boot.
Anthony Hickox plays parts in both films, he also doubles as an actor.

There is something oddly satisfying about his films I can’t put my finger on. Maybe it’s his obvious love of classic monsters like vampires and werewolves. I am at heart a monster movie lover. I have a large poster at home from Pop Chart Labs that is a taxonomic breakdown of monster films.

I also own on VHS “Lobster Man from Mars”, which is a spoof of 50’s science fiction films. He stars in this, as well as Deborah Foreman of “Waxwork”.

“Full Eclipse” is completely bizarre, I had to watch it because of an article in my Fangoria magazine. Cops hooked on and suffering the side effects of a drug that turns them into werewolves? Using it to attack drug lords? Pure crazy, but had an opening sequence that reminded me of something akin to John Woo.

“Sundown, The Vampire in Retreat” is far from being scary but is rather comical and one I really enjoyed as a kid.

“Hellraiser 3” in retrospect was pretty fun too. I need to watch this again. If memory serves it had a pretty interesting scene at the club when the cenobites come calling.

I haven’t seen anything newer than 93′ of his, so I will need to check them out. Hopefully they retain some of the earlier charm.

9 years ago

I like the artwork and I’m pretty sure its the same guy who did the cover for Clive Barker’s Inhuman Condition

Ben S
Ben S
9 years ago

All of this talk about WAXWORK (plus that great trailer!) is making me want to watch it again…

Chuckles72: I’m with you. WAXWORK was a fairly benign horror cover–but there were some that made me think “Uh uh…NEVER,” including THREE ON A MEATHOOK and, oddly, CRIMINALLY INSANE starring Crazy Fat Ethel (if once I ran from her, now I run to her).

Dasklyter: I didn’t know that the same guy was behind WAXWORK and HELLRAISER 3!! I just re-watched H3 on Netflix Instant recently and had so much fun. It’s such a weird, crazily early ’90s movie. I loved CD Cenobite, the Anchorwoman in Peril, and the odd After School Special subplot in which she rehabilitated the evil club owner’s ex-girlfriend. I’ve always wanted to see LOBSTER MAN FROM MARS, ever since watching the trailer on the VHS of PROM NIGHT 3: THE LAST KISS. Maybe it’s finally time.

Thanks for posting this!