Monday, December 6, 2010

Film #47: Waxworks (1924)

The classifieds...

Where one turns when they have a couch they'd like to rid themselves of, are in need of housing or someone who "understands" you... and jobs; let's not forget jobs. Now, more than ever people are turning to the classifieds as a time-trusted keeper of coveted salary steeds - apparently things haven't changed much since 1924.

This week's film, the 1924 epic Waxworks, begins with our main character "the poet" in need of a job and finding a lead - you guessed it - in the classifieds:

What writer down on his luck wouldn't jump at the chance to work in a "waxworks exhibition"?!? Especially one located in a carnival! Shucks, in Nick's darker employment days he worked at a hot dog skin factory (don't ask) and Chris onced stooped so low as to peddle paragraphs for an online teenager gossip website (though, in his defense, it was related to the show LOST). The point is, we've all had some strange jobs. So if you think schlocking publicity for a wax museum is bad, imagine what the poet could have ended up with if they had craigslist back then!

Faster than you can say "HR", our boy gets the job and is well on his way to becoming a carny. He is told to start immediately coming up with tall tales about the star wax-heads of the exhibition - among whom are Haroun-Al-Raschid (Caliph of Baghdad), Ivan the Terrible and Spring-heeled Jack (aka Jack the Ripper)! As an added bonus the waxwork's elderly owner has a fetching young daughter who instantly gets the poet's creative juices flowing! Stories begin to pour effortlessly from the poet's pen as he weaves tale after tale, each (of course) starring his new beauty, himself and his waxy subjects.

As the night oil burns the poet feverishly presses on, with his new love interest becoming more interested in him page after page... or is she? Reality begins to blur as the waxy figures seem to gain a twinkle to their eyes and the poet becomes increasingly lost in his own stories. Are the figures more than their waxy facades project? Will the poet woo his new lady fair? Or at the very least get a paycheck?

Find out as we wax philosophical about the 1924 epic Waxworks.

RDHP Ratings and Reviews

C-Rating: 3.0
Chris Dimick waxes poetic:
“Growing up in the balls-cold one minute, well-diggers-ass-hot the next mid-West, one learned to take comfort in the old adage “If you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes.” Such is the case in this week’s film “Waxworks,” which features not one but three semi-entertaining stories!
If you didn’t like the first love story set in the mid-east, just wait five (or 30) minutes and you’ll be treated to the Ruskie-style torture fest of Ivan the Terrible! Not that into torture (you don’t like torture, what is wrong with you, sicko?), then take another 5 and be treated to the slap-happy-stabbings of good old Spring-heeled Jack… or as his disemboweled friends call him, Jack the Ripper.

There is something magical about watching a movie with various vignettes. It is as if you are getting more movie for your video money. And Buddha knows that in this economy (tired of this phrase yet?), we have to stretch our video money until it can do the splits.

Why do I love vignettes? Maybe it’s that the exposure to “Chemical Valley” Canadian pollution and too many seizure inducing MTV videos in my formidable years has rendered my attention span as long as Napoleon’s Boner-part – but I love it when I can kick back and drink in several horrific stories served in one cup, like with Waxworks.

A few short-attention span style reasons to watch Waxworks:
-For a movie from 1924, the cinematography was amazing. Several shots, especially in the Ivan the Terrible vignette, caused Nick and I to say “Nice shot.”
-It celebrates the power of a writer’s imagination. Thank Science that we have creative, motivated, feeling-inducing storytellers infecting us with their strange and horrifying ideas on a daily basis. Thank Science even harder there are still folks out there devoted to the written word, as is celebrated in Waxworks.
When the Waxworks owner wanted to drum up business on his creations, he didn’t call in a loud mouth front door barker, nor a sign painter (all cutting edge media for the 1920s), he called on a writer to fill our head with fake nonsense about his wax creatures. From one writer to the film Waxworks, “bravo.”
-The ugliness of women in the 1920s will make you appreciate, even more, modern beauty standards.

A few short reasons not to watch Waxworks:
-It is a silent movie, and therefore has a high risk of being boring. Sorry, but it is truth. And while I gave this a 3.0, and it was very fun in parts, but other parts were indeed very sleep inducing. I’m looking at you Vignette 1 set in the Middle East. You had a great ironic story, excellent old school acting, and many sweet-ass swords. But speed it up, cowboy, you were too slow on the draw.
-There is a grave injustice paid the final vignette, which features Jack the Ripper. Though he is obviously the most interesting villain portrayed in the flick, his feature time is the shortest! Grave injustice, German filmmakers! What, do you have something against the English or someth… oh yeah, those “Wars” you had.

These are indeed wise words: “If you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes.” It works for vignette horror movies, the mid-West climate, but also for life.
Things change daily. Something pissing you off? Your craw nice and raw on account of your current situation? Life not treating you right… just wait five minutes.”

N-Rating: 2.3
Nick Rich waxes-poetic:
"Ok, so as many of you may or may not know I'm fresh back from a mission trip to Africa, which was amazing. I always knew life was different in other parts of this beautiful blue ball of ours, but knowing that things are different and experiencing the difference are immeasurably different. Coming back to the States after the being in Africa for 2 weeks left me feeling out of step, irritable and a bit conflicted. Everything is the U.S. is so busy... I mean, seriously, the things people get upset about here are just ridiculous! Not to mention the over-saturated lifestyle we've 'advanced' to; a few weeks out of the stew of insanity we've cooked ourselves into is enough to make you look at the meal a bit differently (it probably didn't help that Thanksgiving and Black Friday followed so closely on the heels of my return). Needless to say, I was left with some feelings and emotions which took me a good week to pour through and reconcile (still working through it but I'm feeling much better now, thanks!).

Why am I telling you this in my Waxworks review you ask? I want you to understand the mindset I had going into this viewing. If ever there were a week during the project where I needed pure escape, it was this week! Unfortunately (for me) Waxworks was on the docket. While it had a lot going for it (innovative story idea/cinematagraphy, anthology goodness, great production value, etc) I simply could not swallow the silent pill this week.

On another week I may have been able to focus more heartily on the positive aspects of this film - oh, who am I kidding? Historically it always has come down to whether or not a film bores me, and for the most part, Waxworks was boring.

The pacing of the first tale was a bit slow, but the cheekiness and sets were enough to keep me from gnawing off my tongue - but I was definitely banking on the remaining tales being doozies... Which of course they weren't. Ivan the Terrible's tale was, well, terrible. The pacing lagged, which is to be expected in an older film, but the lack of interesting sets and interactions between characters made me test the edibility of my tongue (should gnawing become necessary). Luckily Ivan finally fled his dungeon and lived up to his rep and officially became the worst wedding guest ever. But seriously, who would invite Ivan the Terrible to their wedding?!?! You're just asking for it!

Time was running short and my eyes were becoming increasingly heavy as the film prodded on... would Jack the Ripper slice my droopy lids open? Would there finally be some straight dope horror in this offering? Sadly, friends, I can't say that happened. I honestly can't say if it was the technologically advanced (yet confusing) superimposing or my fatigue (or both) that made the last tale so confusing; needless to say I was relieved it didn't last long.

Oh Waxworks! It's not you, it's me. Well, maybe it's a little you... I mean, you were kinda snore-inducing... but hey, you've got some great things going for you! I'm sure there are plenty of fellas out there who will overlook your shortcomings and embrace the positives you have to offer! And if that doesn't work, you can always join a nunnery.

The Skinny: Check this flick out if you're in the mood to watch an innovative, yet slow silent film... or if you're feeling bad about your summer job. But do yourself a favor and don't watch it after you've had a life-changing experience.

Things We Learned From Waxworks:
-It is always good to hire a personal poison maker. Who doesn’t need one!?
-Bieber burns were stylish in Ivan the Terrible era Russia.
-Ivan the Terrible was actually a very accurate nickname.
-Like sands through the hour glass, so are the minutes of Ivan’s prisoner’s lives.
-“Spring-heeled Jack” is a cool nickname, but “Jack the Ripper” is just badass.
-All it takes to escape an insane czar is one whip to their ribs.
-Some people desire a different wife for every day of the year.
-When you need to use a stick to push chessboard pieces, you might be too fat.
-Smoking was punished by death in Arabian times. And you thought California was bad!
-Kneading dough can be a sexual act.
-All 1920s actresses look like Madonna… in other words, ugly.
-Rope belts were once not just for Rednecks.
-Great pickup line, call a chick your “casket of honey.”
-The 21st century is smack dab in the middle of a fashion “comfort renaissance.” Here’s to you jeggings! Ahh, jeggins, when you are too lazy to put on real pants, but have to go outside:

Quote of the Viewing:
[After inhaling smoke from a baker's stove, the sultan Harun-Al-Rashid orders the baker be killed as punishment. When the minion sent to do the dirty work returns empty-headed after gazing at babes, the Sultan gets pissed.]

Al-Rashid: “Where is the head of that dog, baker?”
Chris (saying in the voice of minion as he pats his body): “Oh, oh, that, I left that in my other pants.”

RDHP Presents: Creepy Wax Celebrities

Sarah Jessica Parker
Ahh! There will be no hanky-panky in the city, town or village!

Hugh Hefner
Wax or not? We can't tell!
We'd wager neither can his girlfriends!

Emma Watson
What could be worse than having your tween phase eternally in wax?

Jonas Brothers
Double-Ahhh! Why did we ask what could be worse!?!

Michael Jackson
Can you guess which one is wax?

Samuel Jackson

We don't care if he is wax, we're still not going to mess with Jules Winnfield. After he's one bad- oh, you know...

Lucille Ball
Didn't we already look at Michael Jackson?

Seinfeld Cast

More Famous Fat Villains
The main evil character in Waxwork's first story, the sultan Harun Al-Rashid, looked like he just ate about three full size human men before appearing on camera. The obesity epidemic continues below with our review of other famos fat villains. Mmm, I can smell the fat rolls from here!

Get in his belly! Seriously, he is hungry... hop in there fresh meat!

Jabba the Hut
Poor Jabba. All those insults from Princess Leigh really hurt his slimey feelings.

Nikita Kruschev
It's so hard to be scared of the near instigator of WWIII when he looks like the Three Stooges' Curly Joe.

The Beagle Boys
Sure you're thieves, and sure Scrooge McDuck is the richest mammal on earth - but jeez! Give it a rest already! One would think that after 1,582 failed theft attempts you'd call it quits.

Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (aka the Fat Dude from Dune)
As if being so large he requires a hover suit weren't bad enough, this guys has some skin issues.

Dennis Nedry
John Hammond didn't create weasels on his famed dino-isle, but he sure brought one along for the ride! Where's a Dilophosaurus when you need one?

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