From the Archive – Lost in Time: Waxwork II (1992)

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

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.

Also, in the credits, this happens:

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.

Ratings:

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%

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