Warlock

  • 1989
  • Movie
  • R
  • Horror

Completed in 1989 and released overseas, WARLOCK finally made it to American screens in 1991. Directed by Steve Miner, who got his start working on the FRIDAY THE 13TH films, WARLOCK aspires to more than many genre movies, though it actually achieves very little. In 1691 Boston, a warlock (Julian Sands) is imprisoned by God-fearing citizens of a small town....read more

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Completed in 1989 and released overseas, WARLOCK finally made it to American screens in 1991. Directed by Steve Miner, who got his start working on the FRIDAY THE 13TH films, WARLOCK aspires to more than many genre movies, though it actually achieves very little.

In 1691 Boston, a warlock (Julian Sands) is imprisoned by God-fearing citizens of a small town. His chief adversary is Giles Redferne (Richard E. Grant), whose faith seems to have brought Satan's emissary to bay. But the warlock calls on his infernal master for help and is transported far from his

tormentors: to modern-day Los Angeles, in fact. The hitch is that Redferne gets swept along with him.

The warlock fits right into 20th-century America, and sets about casting a vast spell that will tip the cosmic balance to evil and chaos. Redferne sets out to stop him, but he's considerably less comfortable in a world that looks to him as though the devil has already won. Redferne forges an

uneasy alliance with Kassandra (Lori Singer), a bouncy valley girl who has the misfortune to cross paths with the warlock; he curses her so she ages years in hours, and if she can't find him and break the spell, she'll be dead within a matter of days. The mismatched Kassandra and Redferne learn to

trust and respect each other, and together they send the warlock back to hell and save the world from an unprecedented reign of evil.

To its credit, WARLOCK isn't a stalk-and-slash movie, but it isn't a successful supernatural horror film by any standard. Naturally, one doesn't expect logic to dominate a film about time-traveling devil worshippers. Films with supernatural elements all make up their own rules, but it's important

that those rules be internally consistent, and it helps if they incorporate elements with which the audience is familiar--if you make a vampire movie and want people to buy in, you have to get the stuff about blood and garlic and sunlight straight. In WARLOCK one gets the feeling that the rules

are being made up as it goes along. This may have been because the filmmakers wanted to get away from the old cliches, but it feels careless and smacks of contempt for the audience.

Two-thirds of WARLOCK's principal cast is genuinely distinguished: English leads Julian Sands and Richard E. Grant made their reputations in such critically praised films as A ROOM WITH A VIEW and IMPROMPTU, and WITHNAIL & I and HOW TO GET AHEAD IN ADVERTISING, respectively. The third lead,

American Lori Singer (FOOTLOOSE, TROUBLE IN MIND), is outclassed, but it doesn't really matter, since the script is so silly that even Sands and Grant can do little more than muddle through it.

There are some imaginative special effects (though many of the best were reportedly trimmed due to ratings concerns), but the aging make-up used to show the effects of Kassandra's curse is not at all effective--a particular problem in that she's a major character and is on screen much of the

time. (Violence.)

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  • Released: 1989
  • Rating: R
  • Review: Completed in 1989 and released overseas, WARLOCK finally made it to American screens in 1991. Directed by Steve Miner, who got his start working on the FRIDAY THE 13TH films, WARLOCK aspires to more than many genre movies, though it actually achieves very… (more)

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