Warlock (1989)

warlockWarlock seems as if it might have been a fairly ambitious horror film, and at first glance, it does sort of seem like a fascinating supernatural horror film but upon closer inspection, it’s not much to get excited about. In fact, you’re most likely to find a film that could have been good, but thanks to a number of bad decisions made during the production phase, we instead get a cheaply made devil yarn that reeks of cheese.

The plot is very simple. An unnamed warlock is captured by a local witch hunter named Giles Redferne, and is about to be executed for witchcraft, but before his execution, Satan appears before him and sends him to 1980’s Los Angeles, where he sets about on a quest to reassemble The Grand Grimoire, a book that can supposedly reveal the true name of God. Along with him, Giles is also transported into the same time period, and his mission is to stop the warlock from succeeding in his quest.

Almost immediately, the film’s basic premise reads like a Terminator clone, only instead of travelling from the future, the main characters travel to the present from the past, specifically during the era of the Salem witch trials. Of course, you can’t just reverse the formula of a popular movie and expect success. In fact, when Warlock does exactly that, it ends in unadulterated mediocrity, which is perhaps the film’s only real crime. That being said, it’s also rather obviously derivative of other cliched horror movies, making for an all the more contrived horror flick.

Believe it or not, the characters and acting are even worse. Julian Sands actually makes for a decent villain, even if you don’t necessarily buy him as a horror villain. Meanwhile, his adversary, played by a younger Richard E. Grant, is just bad. The other characters give pretty bad performance, but Richard’s dreadful Scottish accent takes the cake. It doesn’t even make any sense, considering his character is supposed to be a witch hunter from 17th century Boston. The film only really recognises three characters by name, and the rest are simply bit parts. Either way, such lackluster performance is something I’d expect from a TV show.

Speaking of that, the film looked and sounded very much like a made-for-TV movie. In fact, it’s made in such low quality that it looks very much like you’re watching a mid-80’s TV show on an old TV screen (imagine watching MacGyver if it were a cheesy horror movie and you get the picture). It looks as if it could have been made a decade earlier, and it wouldn’t have been much better either way. The special effects aren’t exactly stellar either. I like that they used practical effects, but they’re used to bad effect here, and the main problem is that they look obviously cheap, and that often turns the film’s intended horror into accidental comedy (not that I’m against that sort of thing).

I have no doubt that it could have been a good or at least an okay horror film, but the producers clearly cut corners almost everywhere, and the end result is a mediocre supernatural romp that I’m honestly surprised isn’t confined to the bargain bin, and yet it somehow garnered a reputation as a cult film.

  • Score: 56%
  • Grade: D
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