The original film is a lot of fun. The second tries hard to recapture the spark of the first. The presentations of the films on Blu-ray is outstanding. Tons of great special features.
Plot: A warlock flees from the 17th to the 20th century, with a witch-hunter in hot pursuit.
Review: An ancient text called the Grand Grimoire has been missing for centuries, and an evil Warlock (played by Julian Sands) from the 17th century manages to slip through a time portal, ending up in the 20th century where the lost pages of the evil tome have been scattered across several states in secure locations. He’s pursued by a witch hunter named Redferne (Richard E. Grant) from his own time, and together they are both fish out of water, quickly picking up modern day slang and sensibilities. Where the warlock is working with an evil spirit to collect the pages (which will supposedly allow him to unlock the true name of God and undue creation itself), Redferne is working with a befuddled yuppie chick (played by Lori Singer), who has been cursed by the warlock with a rapid aging ailment that will kill her in a few days if the curse isn’t broken.
A fun horror adventure with neat special effects and a good, strong score by Jerry Goldsmith, Warlock is a top grade “B” picture that had a troubled release history and unfortunately a besmirched reputation after a true crime incident that left a child horribly murdered by another child who was directly inspired by this film. The script by David Twohy is likably goofy and old fashioned, while Steve Miner’s direction is exactly as it should be, with as-big-as-it-can-be production values and characters that are likable.
The sequel, Warlock: The Armageddon (1993) is a pretty good attempt to rekindle the spark of the original, with the Warlock (Julian Sands again) being born full-grown unto a woman in the modern era, with only one mission: To collect some crystals that will herald the arrival of Satan. The Warlock this time is altered from his original incarnation; he’s got shorter hair and a much less interesting vocabulary and genuflection, but he’s more or less the same dude. His adversaries come in the form of a clan of modern day druids and two young druids warriors who have no idea what their destiny holds for them until their supernatural powers begin manifesting themselves.
From director Anthony Hickox, The Armageddon tries hard to measure up to the cult status of the first film, with more outlandish gore gags and violence than before, and on that front it’s a success, but at times it’s a giggle fest of epic proportions with unintentional humor coming from every direction. Hickox, who has had a nice “B” movie career directing genre films like the two Waxwork movies and things like Sundown, did a more than admirable job of giving this movie some style.
The third and final Waxwork picture is the dismal Warlock III: The End of Innocence, starring Ashley Laurence from the first three Hellraiser movies as a college student (she was in her early 30’s here) who inherits a house in the boonies, which is inhabited by the spirit of evil. She and some of her friends take a trip to the house and get spooked out by an evil warlock (played this time by a deadpan Bruce Payne), who is after some artifacts that only the true owner of the house can posses. What the items will do once the warlock possesses them, one can only imagine.
A chintzy production with cruddy plotting and production values, The End of Innocence provides fans of the series a disappointing (and unrelated) conclusion to the franchise that started out so promisingly. Filmed on a few sets in Ireland, this is an entry fans might be best advised to skip altogether.
Lionsgate’s “Vestron Video Collector’s Series” has just released this two-disc collection with all three of these films on Blu-ray. It’s a welcome addition to the ongoing series (this one is number 11), though I don’t really understand why it’s being considered part of Vestron’s line-up; wasn’t Warlock one of New World’s titles? Regardless, there’s a ton of great features on this set. All three films are featured in widescreen in high definition (they all look really nice), and there are two new audio commentaries for the first two films, as well as tons of interviews, documentaries, and archival features. This is the ultimate collection for fans of the Warlock franchise.