Full Moon Features: The Dungeonmaster (1984) & Waxwork (1988)

[Note: Inspired by Dobes’s comprehensive list of Werewolves of the 80s and its attendant screencaps repository, I’m covering movies I previously passed over because they only tangentially feature werewolves. Hence, this month’s double feature.]

When I previously covered werewolves in anthology films, I lamented that for budgetary reasons, they “tend to skimp on the makeup effects.” That, happily, was not an issue when producer Charles Band commissioned The Dungeonmaster for his fledgling Empire Pictures. Filmed under the title Ragewar and boasting makeup by the great John Carl Buechler, the film is about a computer wizard named Paul (Jeffrey Byron) who comes to the attention of evil sorcerer Mestema (Richard Moll) and is thrust into various fantasy scenarios to rescue his frustrated girlfriend Gwen (Leslie Wing), who can’t commit to him because he seemingly has a deeper relationship with his computer. The one that is of interest to us, though, is the first, which was written and directed by Rosemarie Turko.

When the “Ice Gallery” warms up, the monsters thaw out.

As with most of the segments in the film, “Ice Gallery” is on the short side, but among its rogues is a wolfman who stands frozen alongside Jack the Ripper, a nameless samurai warrior, a mummy, a random hangman, and even more randomly, Albert Einstein. Paul and Gwen are in and out in four minutes, which is about how long they spend in the other segments (where they run afoul of zombies, the band W.A.S.P., a giant stop-motion statue, a slasher, a cave beast, and refugees from Band’s post-apocalyptic Metalstorm). That’s just enough time to establish the menace in each and have Paul come up with an easy fix that tends to involve shooting lasers out of his wrist-affixed computer. (He’s not an “ace troubleshooter” for nothing.)

Werewolf? There wolf!

A few years after The Dungeonmaster came and went, British writer/director Anthony Hickox took the concept of a museum where the displays come to life and expanded it to feature length with 1988’s Waxwork. Run by a suitably malevolent David Warner, the film’s wax museum is similarly focused on history’s most dastardly villains, including a werewolf played by John Rhys-Davies who puts the bite on an unwary teenager played by a pre-Twin Peaks Dana Ashbrook. Their scene is a given more time to develop and even includes a couple of transformations (one mostly offscreen, the other mostly done with cuts). The werewolf also puts in an appearance during the monster melee that closes the film, with The Howling‘s Patrick Macneee as a wheelchair-bound occult expert who finds himself on the wrong end of its fangs and claws. A neat casting coup, that.

Hey, big fella. You got something on your chin.