Warlock (1989) – Steve Miner

Back in the early 90s, I would occasionally babysit the kids next door to get some extra cash (or any for that matter, as I was trying to find a work/life balance between schooling, job hunting, and friction at home). Amongst their collection of VHS tapes there was a copy of Warlock, and I don’t know what it was about this film, but I got a real kick out of watching it, and really dug Julian Sands as a baddie, and Richard E. Grant going full Scot, and it had Lori Singer, who I recalled from Footloose.

Decades later, the now, I decided to revisit it and see what I think of it now.

The answer is…

Huh.

There’s probably a good film here, but the editing and pacing are horrible, the cuts step all over the character beats and humour, an extra pause here and there, an insert, a look, could have made this a real cult film. And then I’m not quite sure what Singer is doing but her acting choices seem to be all over the board.

Julian Sands is the titular Warlock, captured by the witch hunter Redferne (Grant) in the 1600s but is able to conjure a spell that catapults he and Redferne almost three hundred years into the future, landing them in 1988, where the Warlock is ordered by an unholy spirit to recover the three parts of the Devil’s Bible which contains capital G God’s secret name, a name spoken at the Creation, and if said in reverse could uncreate everything!

Redferne finds himself saddled with Kassandra (Singer) who has been cursed by the Warlock to age twenty days every twenty-four hours.

Neither the Warlock nor Redferne seem too surprised by the changes wrought on the world and the way it has changed since they were in the small colony of Boston, and Singer swings from being a worthy companion and excited to track down the baddie to someone you just want to leave in the rearview.

The special effects are kind of shoddy (some are really fun though, and show some innovation and inspiration while working inside a constraining budget), but it’s a low budget film, bolstered by Sands and Grant’s performances. The other thing that bothered me was that nothing, the sets, the costumes especially, none of it looked lived in. There was no authenticity to it.

If the film had been a little longer, with a bit more development (character and story), if beats had been allowed to play out, this could have really been something. Sure it inspired two sequels, with Sands returning for the first one, but it certainly did not stand the test of time, and now remains little more than a curiosity for those to seek out.

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