Friday, July 30, 2010

One Hot Wax, Courtesy of the Lightning Bugg

With summer burning its way through our sanity, it's only fitting that I should accept a recommendation from not only an esteemed blogger, but one named for the season's rare good find. This month, T.L. Bugg over at The Lightning Bug's Lair has assigned me the 1999 low budget wackjob Hot Wax Zombies On Wheels while I ordered him a serving of the Hong Kong actionfest, We're Going to Eat You . Head over to the Lair  for his take as I dust off some leather for...

Aggressive campiness may very well be one of the hardest sub (sub) genres out there when it comes to film. How do you secure audience involvement when the very nature of your work is to not take itself seriously? Generally, the answer lies in attitude. For every John Waters joke that falls on its face, there’s the simple smile you find yourself making at the sheer silliness of what’s onscreen.
As you may surmise from its title, Michael Roush's Hot Wax Zombies On Wheels is 90 minutes of pure goofballary with little regard for sanity or sense. It features lots of hot wax, zero zombies, some wheels, many pairs of boobs, an offensive amount of kooky sound effects and enough puns to make the Crypt Keeper seethe.  Take those lactose pills and dig in:
Quick Plot:
The quiet town of Davenport gets rocked when a European waxing salon sets up shop. As quaint citizens line up to remove that pesky body hair (a phrase repeated just about every 65 seconds throughout the film), Sharon, the owner of the world’s tamest lingerie store, begins to suspect something amiss. Aided by her boyfriend’s best friend Sven (a barber with both a crush and a need to have hairy clientele), Sharon declares war on Yvonne, the she-beast waxist with a horrendous Halloween store wig and dangerously misguided early 90s sense of fashion.

So by this point, you may be wondering: is this a story about one woman’s resistance to hair removal? The question is valid. The answer is mostly.
See, there are a few minor kinks thrown into Hot Wax Zombies On Wheels (still no zombies or wheels though). For one, removing that pesky body hair doesn’t just make you feel smooth: it also turns you into an insatiable horndog. This is convenient enough when all your fellow villagers share your sudden lustful enthusiasm, but poor Sharon can’t seem to say goodbye to her Lady Bic..

Even though she must be sustaining a leg worth of nicks from never rinsing her razor. See despite the fact that Sharon’s career would seem to be greatly enhanced by her clientele’s increased libidos, this independent woman would much rather bike with Sven and make funny faces at the oddness going on around her (side effects include a newfound addiction to cleaning). Luckily for Sharon, a pair of traditional pun-spewing sailors are also on hand to help fight the villains. With sawdust.

The first issue that simply must be addressed is the title, a catchy but misleading name that saves itself by being sung in the opening scene. I’ll give my due to any film that manages to make a song out of “Hot Wax Zombies On Wheels,” though it would have been a little more justified had this film involved a single actual zombie. Sure, the townspeople do seem to lose their individuality in a Body Snatchers-esque way, but to call them zombies is to call the gigantic toads that plague Sam Elliot in Frogs ...well, it’s like calling them frogs. 

Putting titular issues aside, Hot Wax Zombies On Wheels remains a rather atrocious film that nevertheless gets more and more charming as it runs. None of the cast can actually act, but all truly do put every ounce of energy they have into having a good time. As a result, their enthusiasm eventually wears you down enough where you have to chuckle at what they do. Then again, for every clever pun that actually works, about twelve pass by with a loud thud. Such is the nature of cheap verbal slapstick.
High Points
If I did a pun-by-pun breakdown, I can’t say that the ones that worked hit the majority. Still, there are a few that end up being genuinely amusing, particularly the pure ridiculousness of those f*cking rats

I wouldn’t cast lead Jill Miller as Lady MacBeth, but she maintains a guilt-free attitude throughout the film that helps to make her likable enough for us to care about
Low Points
If you’re going to act like a horror sci-fi movie, can you at least give us some form of horror/sci-fiishness? Tanned bare breasts don’t please ALL audiences you know.

Don’t mind some of the odder evidence of low budget or 12 day shooting schedule, such as Sharon’s early conversation with her mother where for whatever reason, neither character makes any eye contact with one another
Lessons Learned
When wielded correctly, a roll of tinfoil is a powerful weapon
You’re never too old to cheat at Candyland

If there’s one thing Irishmen don’t like, it’s people who dare to creep inside their psyches
When you’ve reached the limits of human horniness, the next logical step is to join a swim team
If Sarah Palin can invent words like refudiate, then I suppose there’s nothing particularly wrong with Yvonne’s defiant use of the term ‘sensuism’
It’s hard to recommend this movie because in all honesty, it’s pretty gosh darn aggressively atrocious. At the same time, it’s made with such gung ho spirit that once you round out the first half hour, you just might find yourself cracking a smile. Most of the jokes are cornier than Nebraska, the boobs more artificial than Meg Ryan’s new mug and the story about as involving as a SyFy original, but those with a taste for good-natured trash may very well find enjoyment. The DVD includes a commentary with stars Miller and Somm, as well as director Michael Rousch who remains proud enough of his campy little film. Rent it--if you must-- with the knowledge that you’re not actually watching anything good...just a lot of American cheese grilled to a guiltily mild enjoyment.

And speaking of culinary delights, don't forget to follow the trail of butter all the way to The Lightning Bug's Lair for a hearty helping of We're Going to Eat You.


  1. Emily, great review. You nailed this film for what it is, a slice of goofy, low budget, horror sleaze. I knew this was a risky recommend, but I think you did get some enjoyment out of it. I think it's worth a watch for sheer outlandishness, but I agree that it will not please all tastes.

  2. That's... wow, that's just wrong on so many levels. I wonder how the producer(s) pitched this film to investors, looks like something Ed Wood would be proud to put his name on. :)

  3. Thanks Zach! The film wears you down slowly but surely. It's dreadful, but so darn enthusiastic about being so that eventually you just can't not smile. A fine recommendation and one I probably never would have heard of otherwise!

    Kid: I can't imagine there were many investors involved in this film, although perhaps the filmmakers tried to woo depilatory companies and after being turned down enough, decided to make waxing evil. It would certainly explain something.

  4. This sounds like a fun slumber party movie! From your description, I imagine it is similar to the Thong Girl movies (which are set in my hometown of Nashville, but which I nonetheless have not seen). Nice pun yourself with "titular"!

  5. I'm sorry. That's really all I can say. I'm sorry.

  6. AE: I have not heard of the Thong Girl movies. Can't decide if they sound amazing or horrendous, but I assume that darned curiosity will lead me down a path of learning that answer once and for all...

    Derek: Considering the crap you have to deal with twice a week, it's all cool. Did Mail Order Zombie ever review this one? I assume it'd get a hearty shot of trioxin gas?