Warlock (1989)

Warlock.jpg (32338 bytes)

Directed by Steve Miner
Starring Julian Sands, Richard E. Grant and Lori Singer

BMM Keywords - So bad it's good, Egregious gore.

    After a long chase, witch hunter Giles Redfern (Grant) runs to ground the Warlock (Sands) who destroyed his wife. Calling on his devil-given powers however, the warlock flees through time to the twentieth century, where the Devil charges him with tracking down the sections of Satan's Bible: The Grand Grimoire - an indestructible book of evil magic which can bring about the end of the world. Redfern and his unwilling sidekick, Kassandra (Singer) - a twentieth century girl cursed by the Warlock to age twenty years every day - chase the Warlock across the country. They track him by watching for the traditional witch-signs - flames burning blue, milk souring and so forth - and by using Redfern's 'witch compass' and striking at him through tried and tested means such as driving iron nails into his footprints and burning him with salt (to which all witches are vulnerable, dontcha know).
    Eventually, they confront the Warlock in a deconsecrated cemetery which turns out to hold Redfern's grave (in which the last pages of the Grimoire are buried). The Warlock is vanquished, and Redfern returns to the past, leaving Kassandra to bury the Grimoire in the heart of the Utah Salt Flats.

What's wrong with it?

    Julian Sands; acting as wooden as ever, bless him. Lori Singer's outfits, and in fact the whole late eighties look of the thing.

What's right with it?

    The whole thing with the witch-signs, and Redfern's witch-hunting gear, is very nicely done. Redfern himself is played with great aplomb and gusto by Grant, revelling in the role of the anachronistic Puritan zealot. The effects are minimalist, but reasonably decent, and the whole thing does have something pretty closely resembling a plot, plus a Jerry Goldsmith score.

How bad is it really?

    Actually, it's not half bad. It has a good conceit in the witch-hunting methods, Grant is always watchable, and the film trots along at a nice pace.

Best bit?

    Probably Richard E. Grant lobbing a weather vane at the Warlock; or possibly the Witch Compass exchange:

    "What's that? Some kind of compass?"
    "Witch compass."
    "That compass right there."

What's up with...?


Production values - Not bad at all for their day; although somewhat dated now. The SFX is mostly restricted to some wire-work, a few flames and Kassandra's premature aging make-up. As I recall, the Warlock's death scene might leave a little to be desired. 10

Dialogue and performances - For the most part, the acting is fairly solid. The dialogue is fairly dry, but delivered with enough panache and timing to make it work. Tragically, Julian Sands lets the side down, slipping gently from sinister and dispassionate in just plain wooden. 12

Plot and execution - While the plot of Warlock is fairly straightforward, it is played out with decent pacing, and is more interesting than much modern fare (for example, Warlocks II and III, which are basically just about the gore and the skin shots). 8

Randomness - Well, Redfern continually comes up with new signs of a witch's presence, and new ways to hurt them, but as most of these methods are pretty much accurate - or at least no more ridiculous than the real thing - it doesn't entirely count as randomness. 10

Waste of Potential - As movies about time-hopping witches go, Warlock is pretty much the bomb. 5

Overall 45%


Warlock: The Armageddon (1993)

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Directed by Anthony Hickox
Starring Julian Sands, Chris Young and Paula Marshall

BMM Keywords - So bad it hurts, so bad it's good, gratuitous sex, egregious gore


Warlock III: The End of Innocence (1999)

WarlockIII.jpg (40611 bytes)

Directed by Eric Freiser
Starring Bruce Payne and Ashley Laurence

BMM Keywords - So bad it hurts, Gratuitous sex, Egregious gore, Bad Movie Superstar

    Nice art student Kris (Laurence) discovers that she has inherited a big old house that is due to be demolished. Ignoring the warnings of a strange old woman, she and her college friends go up to the house, where they are stalked by creepy warlock Philip Covington (Payne), possibly because one of them lets the evil out of the frozen pipes.
    See, it turns out that Kris was actually born in 1643 and sent through time by her mother - a good witch - to escape from the Warlock's attempt to sacrifice her. Now Covington needs her friends to surrender her to him, so he afflicts them with a series of nasty spells designed to make them bow to his will. Eventually, all of them give her up, and Kris is tied to the altar to be offered up, then reborn as the Bride of Lucifer to come back and rule the Earth from beyond the grave.
    Not jamming on the whole deal, Kris breaks free, and kills Covington with a sacred knife her mother hid in a doll. And why not.

What's wrong with it?

    What isn't.
    The acting is crappy, the special effects not so special; the sound is poor so you can't hear much of the mumbled exposition. Whole sections of the film make no sense, the rules of the sacrifice seem to change a whole lot, and even the Warlock seems a little unclear on exactly what it's supposed to do. The characters are all pretty unlovable, and the fates to which they are subjected not the most imaginative in horror movie history. The first half of the film is also pretty damn dull, with Bruce Payne sowing discord among a group of high school students: Not exactly a true challenge of his Machiavellian skills.

What's right with it?

    Bog all. I suppose that at least it's only and hour and a half long.

How bad it is really?

    They apparently couldn't get Julian Sands. That's how bad this film is. It isn't much worse than either of the other two, but it takes itself so damn seriously.

Best bit

    En route to the house for the first time, Kris is forced to stop by an old lady standing in the road. The old lady tells her she won't find anything good, and she should go home. Then Kris drives on, and the old lady goes back to standing in the middle of the road. The inescapable conclusion is that the old lady just does this every time someone drives past, just for the hell of it.

What's up with...?


Production values: Low. The lighting is okay and the print fairly glossy, but the direction weird and choppy, and the sound is terrible. Also, the soundtrack is this appalling eighties Goth tripe. 17

Dialogue and performance: Shoddy. The script is a mess, explaining everything poorly. This is compounded by the dire performances form the cast of wooden young things. I mean, Bruce Payne is the acting highlight, here once more in full hissy pantomime villain mode. 15

Plot and execution: Pretty damn half-arsed. A warlock chasing a bunch of dumb kids around a house, and we don't even get any decent deaths. Plus the sacrifice makes little sense, and the whole time-travel thing is thrown in on the fly to complicate matters. 16

Randomness: Oh wait! I was sent through time when I was eleven, but I don't remember. Weak, at best. 15

Waste of potential: Well, be honest now: This was Warlock III. We didn't expect much. 7

Overall 70%