The Warlock movies would be nothing if not for the power of nostalgia. That’s why I hated them back in the 90s and kind of get a kick out of them now. They are so bad I don’t know why they aren’t considered comedy horror. Viewing them again for the first time in years, I’m convinced they were meant to be comedic.
Warlock is directed by Steve Miner, whose roster includes Friday the 13th 2 & 3, House, Halloween H2O, Lake Placid, and Day of the Dead 2008. It was actually made in 1989 but didn’t get a U.S. release until 1991, which is a good thing, because it doesn’t get any more 1990s direct-to-video than this.
The opening scene sees Julian Sands about to be put to death for witchcraft in the 1600s. He does the most obvious thing to prove he’s a warlock…he uses magic to get the fuck out of there. I’ve always wondered how those buffoons in Salem didn’t stop to think that if the accused were actually witches, why didn’t they use their powers to annihilate the haters?
Warlock crash lands in Lori Singer’s apartment, where she’s busy wondering why the hell she left Fame after only one season for movies that don’t take advantage of her talent as a cellist. Meanwhile, her gay roommate decides he’s going to pull a gay While You Were Sleeping and nurture the pretty boy back to health. Warlock does actually slip him the tongue…um, actually, slips out the tongue.
Once the gay is dead (that was fast) the cops question Lori, and she insists he was no pervy pedophile, that he was gay not queer. Now that we’ve made that distinction….
Warlock is basically The Terminator with a warlock. A witch hunter hooks up with Lori and they chase Warlock everywhere as he hunts down the three parts of the Devil’s bible – b-movie queen Mary Woronov, as a psychic, gives him the job when she becomes momentarily possessed.
To slow the hunter and Lori down, Warlock curses Lori so she begins to age rapidly.
I’d say this movie is so laughable it’s not even funny, but it is so funny. The duo ends up at an Amish farm, where Warlock flies and shoots magic from his hands while the hunter uses a weathervane to try to harpoon him…which causes flying Warlock to drag him right into the side of a barn.
Next, Warlock hops on a cargo train, and old lady Lori begins hammering nails into his footprints in the dirt, which has a voodoo doll effect on Warlock. It’s not enough to stop him, so Old lady Lori hobbles alongside the train trying to catch up with him. I’m telling you, this is so slapstick, I’m sure it was intended as a comedy.
There’s eventually a final battle…on a cemetery set on a sound stage. But, by 1991, there were such low expectations for the horror genre, that this piece of crap got a sequel.
WARLOCK: THE ARMAGEDDON (1993)
You know your franchise is in trouble when you can’t get has-been Lori Singer to return for a sequel in 1993. Therefore, director Anthony Hickox, who brought us movies like Waxwork 1&2, Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat, and Hellraiser III, pretty much gives us a remake of the first film with a whole lot more gore.
After a possessed woman gives birth during an opening scene in medieval times, a young woman is in her apartment in modern times, waiting for her date, when Warlock crash lands…in her uterus! She gives birth seconds later to something disgusting, out of which crawls naked Warlock.
The woman goes momentarily demonic to tell him he needs to collect 6 runes that will unleash the devil. Her date does eventually show to give us a fleeting cameo by Zach Galligan of the Waxwork movies.
Meanwhile, a young man on a farm in bumfuck wherever learns he’s a druid and must stop Warlock. He spends most of the movie practicing magic in a field, while Warlock is busy making gory mincemeat of anyone he comes across.
It’s no surprise this one is from the director of Hellraiser III, because it totally has that same feel, with an all-powerful otherworldly presence demoted to Jason status for the mere sake of delivering a body count.
Making it even more glaringly obvious that this one is from the 1990s, there’s a modeling runway scene complete with a lesbian kiss and the rave track “What Can You Do For Me” by Utah Saints.
Eventually, Warlock finds druid boy and his equally magical girlfriend, there’s an old fashion shootout – although Warlock cheats and uses finger guns (seriously), and a final battle scene with more flying Warlock action. It’s 199-cheese to the max.
WARLOCK III: THE END OF INNOCENCE (1999)
Warlock III: The End of Innocence marks not only the end of the series, but also a clear sign of how much everything released after 1996 was impacted by Scream. Maybe that’s why this one is my favorite in the trilogy.
However, despite the poster art featuring pretty young faces and a plot that sees a group of college kids trapped in a house with a “killer” (aka: Warlock), this final film is actually a major rip-off of Hellraiser.
So much so that the main girl is Ashley Laurence of Hellraiser, running around in her bare feet and a white nightgown as thunder and lighting streak through a creepy house, where she encounters otherworldly spectres and has vision of her friends in torturous, sadomasochistic predicaments.
I think the director just wanted to take the easiest route of all, which required one direction: “Act like you’re in Hellraiser.”
Ashley is a college student (yes, 12 years after Hellraiser, she’s playing a college student) who finds out her family line has left her an old house. So she and her friends go to clean the place out.
Her posse includes her cute boyfriend, a sexy S&M couple (with hot hot Rick Hearst of Brain Damage), a weird introvert, and a chick into the paranormal. She’ll come in handy when Warlock shows up, pretending to be the architect of the home, and starts fucking with everyone’s minds. Julian Sands is out, and stepping in for him is horror veteran Bruce Payne, who is perfect in the role.
Eventually, Pinhead focuses all his attention on Kristy—um, I mean—Warlock targets Ashley Laurence’s character and informs her of his devilish plans for her before they get into a hellish battle. And at last, we get a beast worthy of a horror film.