Character reflection - Mark Loftmore from the Waxwork movies.
With my Facebook page finally reaching it's goal of likes in the slow but sure process of trying to alert Lionsgate about the cult following Anthony Hickox's two Waxwork films have, I decided to celebrate by writing a brief character reflection about my favorite horror hero of all time.
This being Mark Loftmore.
Brilliantly played by Zach Galligan (Gremlins, Surviving) Mark wasn't your typical leading man, but completely stole the show in both movies not only with his good looks, but his boy next door attitude, dry sarcasm, and heart of gold. In an era where horror movie heroes were buff jacked no nonsense men, Mark stuck out because he very well could be a college aged kid living in Los Angeles. Born into a family of privilege, he instantly is shown to not have the same attitude his snobby mother has about being friends with the staff. A fan of comic books, cigarettes, and caffeine, Mark shows himself as a bit of a ladies man. Not only is he trying to recover from his failed relationship with the stunning China, he also is the object of his best friend Sarah's affection and somehow in the beginning seems too blind to even notice. Running late to class, having his pride hurt by China's newest love intreats, and having his maid write papers for him late at night nobody honestly lays on the charm harder than this guy.
Between his repeated fails with China, his quick wit, and how downright handsome he looks, he seems like the type of men who went out of style in the 1950's. I mean after James Dean he very well may be the only other person that actually makes smoking look cool. I absolutely adore the scene where China practically shuts him down while him and his friends are pre-gaming before going to the wax museum. I love how she tells him she needs a man with class, instead "How about a pizza after class babe?" And one of the film's best lines with his dead pan respond "Suffering? We're living in America!"
Mark is the only one with enough sense to instantly know something is up at the Waxwork, and share beautiful and tender moment with Sarah. I love the look of confusion on his face when she shuts him down when he walks her to her apartment building and how gentle and caring he is when he tells her it's all right. The chemistry between Galligan and Foreman was nothing short of amazing in the first film. Mark listens to his gut when he doesn't hear from his missing friends the following day and goes straight to the police department. I love how he doesn't care how foolish he sounds, and when it really comes down to it he's just worried about his friends and wants to get to the bottom of what actually happened to them.
It's Mark who solves the mystery of the Waxwork museum, finding out some hidden family secrets, and teams up with Sarah and an old family friend to fight Mr. Lincoln, the evil madman behind the whole plot. One of the best scenes of the entire movie is when Mark is thrown into one of the displays and ends up in a black and white graveyard straight out of Night Of The Living Dead. It's here he figures out the key element of surviving these trapped worlds. If you don't believe in what's happening, you can escape. Here he risks his life again, rescuing Sarah. Here he bravely stands up to the Marquis De Sade and shows his friend how to beat these illusions. Every time a shaken and broken Sarah takes his hand and the music swells as he helps her out of there, the Marquis' line of "Don't look so smug boy, we shall be meeting again." always gets me. In the film's epic battle, Mark steps up and not only sword fights, and battles against monsters, vampires, zombies, and much more. Showing tender moments such as when he has to finally watch China die, right down to escaping and standing there with Sarah in his arms as the entire museum burns down. An instantly classic, with one hell of a hero.
Gilligan returned several years later in the sequel which was nothing but ordinary. The film picks up exactly where the last one left off but this time with a new actress replacing Foreman. This woman was very beautiful, and made a handsome couple with Galligan, but as I said before didn't match the chemistry Deborah and him had in the pervious film. Here Zach returns to the role of Mark Loftmore and as hammy and as odd as this movie is, he's the heart and soul of the entire thing.
Mark seems helpless as he watches the girl he cares about on trial for a murder she wasn't responsible for. Here he goes to great lengths to prove her innocence, by traveling into different worlds for any proof to save her. Here we watch as the two become separated, and stumble into different worlds. Here Mark enters worlds such as Frankenstein's mansion, a black and white haunted house with Bruce Campbell (his wig and line delivery in this kills me every time.), a spaceship from Alien, and finally a midivil castle where he has to battle a warlock to save Sarah. Here Mark steps up as the true hero and has in my eyes one of the coolest sword fights of all time where him and the film's villain enter and exit several worlds across time including nods to such films as Dawn Of The Dead, and Godzilla. What makes this cheesy crazy film so enjoyable is the fact that Galligan returned to a role he was so great at playing. In this movie he doesn't take himself serious at all. He has fun playing Mark, and always brings a teat to my eye when he pushes Sarah through the time passage so she can return to present day and prove her innocence. The film ends on a hopeful note with Sarah returning to Mark, but it leaves hard core fans like myself always wondering how awesome a Waxwork 3 would have been.
25+ Years later and the Waxwork movies still remain cult classics as does Zach as a horror icon. As a huge fan, I'll admit when I was first lucky enough to meet him in person I was completely serious. It was Mark Loftmore. The Mark Loftmore in the flesh. I can honestly say, no other actor could have captured the likable charm that Zach gave for this performance.
So fingers crossed for a proper blu-ray release so we can re-watch Mark Loftmore battle through time, but this time...in HD!