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It's not the most intelligent or witty horror flick ever made, but there's
something about "Warlock" that makes it strangely compelling. Imagine a
sort of "Terminator"-type plot in reverse, and you've got the gist of the
An evil warlock is transported from 17th century Boston to 20th century Los Angeles, along with Gyles Redferne, a world-weary witch-hunter. Thus their long-standing feud continues afresh (at the beginning of the film, the warlock is about to be executed). The warlock sets off in search of the satanic Bible containing the name of God which can invoke the undoing of all creation. Following him are Redferne and Kassandra (Lori Singer), a self-obsessed waitress on whom the warlock has inflicted a cruel ageing spell. And so begins a cross-country race against time, with a healthy dose of dark humour thrown in amongst all the more obvious time-travel gags.
Julian Sands excels in the title role, and clearly relishes playing the bad guy. Richard E. Grant, as Redferne, makes an unlikely, but effective action-hero, and also seems to enjoy himself immensely, despite his dodgy Sean Connery accent. Lori Singer's role as the vacuous female lead could have been played by anyone, but she suffices, and, so as not to overshadow her in the company of Sands and Grant, she is given some good one liners.
If you're after a fun action/horror movie that will kill a couple of hours without using up too many brain cells, "Warlock" is certainly worth a look, if only for the strength of the lead performances. It's a pretty lightweight yarn, but is no less enjoyable for that.
And it's infinitely better than any of the sequels.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It usually takes a special audience to love most of the movies I review.
But there's something truly wrong with you if you can't sit back and enjoy
Warlock. It's nothing but pure fun. Warlock is a Steve Miner classic.
Like his previous film, House, it's loaded with inventiveness. David
Twohy's (Pitch Black, Critters 2) script is marvelous and gives us many
memorable moments. My favorite occurs when Lori Singer is hammering the
Warlock's tracks in the train yard; extremely original. Another great
sequence is when the Grand Grimoire is finally assembled. The acting is
stellar for the genre. You have gotta love Richard E. Grant's (Bram
Stoker's Dracula) accent: "Witches loathe salt." Julian Sands is always
superb but is at his most evil in this role. He truly is the Warlock (which
is why I'll never watch the third Warlock installment). Steve Miner has
brought us some good genre flicks and this is, without a doubt, one of his
best (forget about H20).
Note for genre buffs: Look for Ian Abercrombie (Army of Darkness) and Mary Woronov (Deathrace 2000) in small roles.
This film is a classic. Richard E Grant puts on a wonderful performance although his Scottish accent isnt as strong enough to be believable as it has been toned down so that Americans can understand it. The effects are typically eighties adding to the fun. A good film to watch when you're in the mood for something a bit different and not too serious.
I rarely watch any thriller type movies that involve the supernatural and and sort of monster or witch. They all tend to have similar plots and fail to challenge the imagination. I only saw this movie because my wife and daughter had just tuned it in when I arrived home one day. I watched simply to spend some time with them and chat during commercial breaks. I was caught up in this story very quickly and remained glued to my seat until it was over. Basically a male witch, played by Julian Sands, who wishes to reverse creation by finding a long hidden biblical document, makes the leap from the 15th century to present day to search for it. He is pursued by an equally determined witch hunter, played by Richard Grant. The movie is comical one moment and bone chilling the next. It's well presented and thrilling from start to finish. The witch chaser pursues the warlock across country, with the assistance of a young lady who falls into the story, with the chase culminating in a Graveyard in a very old section of Boston. Lots of excitement, drama, comedy and horror along the way. A delight to watch.
This is to me one of the most overlooked 80's horror films yet. Its also one of the best. The characters are well developed, and there's even an actual plot! The cast was perfect as well as the special effects which arn't cheesey at all. You don't see the typical teen girls getting butchered along with their boyfriends. You don't see undeveloped unlikeble characters. What you do see is a really good movie, that is totally underrated. Underrated is the key word to describe this movie, Lori Singer is a brilliant actress who is far too overlooked as well as Julian Sands. Its a "must see" movie for fans of quality horror movies.
A witch hunter (Richard. E. Grant) is chasing an evil warlock (Julian
Sands) that got transported from the 17th century to 1980's Los
Angeles. With help from a young woman (Lori Singer) who's received a
hex from the warlock, they team up and rush against the clock to stop
him from getting his hands on the pages of the Grand Grimoire (satanic
bible) and in doing so he could undo all creation.
Director Steve Miner (Friday the 13th Part 2 & 3, House) achieves probably his best film in "Warlock". Some people might say his best is "Lake Placid", but I couldn't stand that annoying film myself. Anyhow, the fact is the plot of "Warlock" might be very formulaic and lack depth in the religious lingo, but he delivers a pleasurable supernatural chase thriller here. Involving some enterprising performances that go in hand-to-hand with the well-paced story, witty humour and energetic action scenes. All of these elements seem to gel perfectly for an incredibly fun ride that hardly has a dull moment to be had.
There are some nice effects are on show (warlock flying through the sky) and good makeup is provided. The violence is hardly graphic, but there's some mild graphic scenes and implied violence too. Miner adds in some nice added touches with extremely solid direction that keeps a solid pace and well-orchestrated camera-work that captures the rather exquisite scenery when the film takes a detour in the countryside. Not particularly suspenseful or uneasy viewing, but well organised action set pieces, some horrific sequences and humorous moments (ingenious ending) makes up for it. There are some well-organised scenes of excitement and thrills, especially the sequences involving a farmhouse and a terrific climax in the eerie graveyard. It's layered with a potent score by Jerry Goldsmith that builds on some rare tense scenes, but more on the rapid mood of the film.
What truly make the film standout are riveting performances even though they feel hammy. There is such an excellent blend of chemistry between the leads. With each of them throwing back and forth to each other smart and witty dialogue. Julian Sands central performance leaps out as a powerful warlock out to destroy mankind. He fit's the role perfectly with this deviously venomous presence about him. Richard. E. Grant is charming as the very determined warlock hunter Giles Redferne. When these two characters meet, the confrontations between them always spices up the film. Lori Singer is enjoyable as the unknowingly Kassandra who adds to the humour and zest of the film.
The film might be nothing out of the ordinary, but you can't deny the upbeat tempo of a thrilling adventure that leads you on a whirlwind trip from Los Angeles to Boston.
An evil warlock (Julian Sands) travels from the 17th century to modern
times, in search of the pages of the Grand Grimoire (the Devil's
bible), which, when assembled together, will reveal God's true name and
allow creation to be undone. Hot on his heels is a witch-hunter, Giles
Redferne (Richard E. Grant), who enlists the help of Kassandra (Lori
Singer), a pretty girl who has been cursed by the warlock (for every
day that passes, she ages 20 years).
Written by David Twohy (Pitch Black) and directed by Steve Miner (Friday the 13th Part 2 and 3, House), Warlock is a fun, if unexceptional, slice of supernatural horror.Twohy has obviously done his homework and fills the script with interesting little snippets of witch lore: Redferne uses a witch compass to track his foe, uses salt as a weapon (witches hate the stuff) and creates a potion (from the boiled fat of a boy!) to enable him to fly. Miner's direction is similar in style to his earlier movie, House, with the emphasis on fun rather than fear. The film is workmanlike but not particularly memorable visually, and is unfortunately let down by some poor special effects.
Warlock is diverting enough entertainment while it lasts and worth checking out if you're a fan of all things 'witchy'. Just don't expect anything exceptional.
This movie actually is a pretty fun film with a lot more going for it than most people might think just looking at the cover. Sands is perfectly cast as the warlock, an evil-to-the-core witch who works for nothing less than the uncreation of the cosmos. Fighting him is an out-of-his-element witch-hunter who has chased him to the present (Grant) with a peculiar confidence. He knows his enemy and knows what he needs to do to prevent the warlock from completing the Grand Grimoire, but is lost in the present. Tagging along is a modern-day girl who is acceptably portrayed by Lori Singer caught between the warlock's unbelievable powers, her newfound friend from the past with an obsession, and her now blasted view of "how things work in the real world." Two things really make this film though. The first is that the explanations that are given actually don't bog the momentum down (and the filmmakers decide to leave some things unexplained or give the most cursory explanations to catch the audience up in the wild ride that Kassandra (Singer) has found herself in) and that although both the warlock and the hunter have powers, they are closly matched and totally obsessed, making for a very interesting conflict. There's also enough tongue in cheek to keep people interesting and to break occasional tension. Very watchable - go and try it on for size.
James Cameron's 1984 masterpiece The Terminator remains one of the
greatest time travel epics ever made. A true Sci-Fi classic, it grossed
$78 million at the box office and was an instant favorite of critics
and fans alike. Perhaps it was inevitable that its premisethat of a
hero and his mortal foe battling across centuries as well as great
distanceswould be duplicated a score of times by lesser filmmakers in
lesser films. Universal Soldier, Highlander, and their myriad dismal
sequels come to mind, as does the 1993 Stallone vehicle, Demolition
Man. Steve Miner's unsung 1989 B-movie Warlock is very much in this
same category of Terminator knockoff. Though underwhelming in its
production values, Warlock manages to outshine its contemporaries
through fine writing, directing, and above all, acting.
The beauty of Warlock's story lies in its simplicity. This is not a film with delusions of grandeur; it has more in common with Highlander than Braveheart. Hot on the trail of his mortal enemy the Warlock, our hero Redferne dives courageously after his foe into a magical time vortex that transports him from 17th century New England to 1980s Los Angeles. A true fish out of water, it isn't long before Redferne finds himself tasered at the hands of those infamous proponents of brutality, the LAPD. He's arrested but doesn't stay in jail for long. An innocent bystander named Kassandra ("With a K!," as she is quick to remind all) posts bail when she realizes Redferne may be the one person who can free her from the curse the Warlock has placed on her. Kassandra (Lori Singer) is a vain young woman who has been cursed by a spell that leads to rapid aging. At the pace of "a decade twice over a day," Kassandra not only rapidly loses her looks but has less than a week to live unless she can reverse the spell. The only way to do that is by confronting the diabolical Warlock, who rightfully terrifies her. After some convincing, Kassandra eventually agrees to join Redferne. The odd couple set off on a quest to find the Warlock and end his reign of terror before it goes any further. Along the way, the Warlock takes council with Satan himself and begins a quest to undo all of creation by uniting the pages of a spell book called the Grand Grimoire. Fully assembled, the Grand Grimoire spells out the true name of God which, if spoken backwards, will destroy the universe.
The character to whom we are to relate immediately as an audience is the Sara Connor proxy, Kassandra. Initially, she is not a likable leading woman; she is written as dim witted, cowardly, and vapid. But by the film's end, I came to find her if not pleasant then tolerable. The kindest thing I can say of Singer's performance as this boor is that it is adequate; she is never charming but far from odious. It would take an actress of the highest caliber to make me really care about Kassandra and Singer just doesn't have the chops. Still, she does what she can with the role and her effort is commendable.
Like The Terminator, Warlock focuses as much on its antagonist as it does on the heroic duo out to defeat him. The Warlock's true name is never revealed on screen. Instead he is referred to only by title, a nice touch that paints him as less a man than an entity of nameless evil. He is wantonly cruel, blond, and impossibly beautiful. His powers are formidable; superhuman strength, a hypnotic gaze, and flight to name just a few. English actor Julian Sands has a ball as the title character. The scene in which he plays video football with a young boy on a swing set is tremendous; as is the scene in which he admires a victim's pinky ring before rudely hacking the finger off. Misfortune in the form of death and dismemberment inevitably befall all who cross his path, but Warlock takes care not to become an exploitation film. Most violence happens off screen, is merely hinted at, or is handled humorously.
Richard E. Grant's performance as the witch hunter Redferne is nothing short of heroic. His character is loosely molded after Terminator's hero, Sgt. Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn). In the hands of a lesser actor, the valiant Redferne could have been a laughable caricature of superstitious Puritanism but Grant finds the heart of the character. Standing over a "witch compass" constructed of brass and witch's blood, he delivers the greatest line in the film; "Now brute, one last time we play the game out!" I enjoyed every word of Redferne's dialogue, all intoned with Grant's silver tongued faux Scots burr.
On a special effects level, Warlock falls flat on its face. This is a film produced by Roger Corman in the late 80s, which should give you some idea of what to expect. The bursts of magical energy the Warlock fires from his hands are truly garish. And don't get me started on the scene in which the Warlock is supposed to be flying down an interstate highway at 100 mph. Warlock's special effects suffer not only in comparison to recent films, but also in comparison to other films from the same time period such as John Carpenter's Big Trouble in Little China. Still, for all of the low budget special effect snafus, I enjoyed the fight scenes between Redferne and the Warlock immensely. I particularly enjoyed the climactic showdown in which Redferne takes on the Warlock with his bare hands.
All in all, Warlock is easily the best of the many Terminator knockoffs. It is action packed, well paced, and resists the temptation to get bogged down with a sappy romantic subplot. It never reaches beyond its grasp; it is a B-movie out and out and on that humble level it succeeds. It features an attractive cast and is well written, directed, produced, and especially acted.
The late 80's and 90's have not been a particularly good time for big-budget horror movies, but Warlock, a kind of supernatural Terminator, works particularly well. Everyone is well-cast, although the focus is on the three leads. Julian Sands is at his most diabolical, but Richard Grant also does well, neatly portraying Redferne as a man out of time (essentially Michael Biehn's character from Terminator, in reverse). Lori Singer is...well, tolerable. The Warlock is not the all-powerful deity that the writers could have portrayed him as (and as he'll be portrayed in the next movie), meaning that the battles between him and Redferne are actually pretty interesting.
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