Warlock (1989)

Warlock: “I am whom others fear.”

Redferne: “Not you. The magic.”

Horror takes shape as the Warlock, a horror that smells your fear and turns it into something more terrifying that warps imagination. Horror and pain have no limitation in the hands of the Warlock as his will to Uncreate the world is insurmountable.

Synopsis

The Warlock races across the country to complete the Grand Grimoire and destroy the world. On his trail is a Witch Hunter who has an old score to settle, and Kassandra, a waitress that wants her life back.

Story

Warlock starts in the 17th century in Boston. The Warlock played by Julian Sands is awaiting sentence by the village elders, whom have him bound by his toes and fingers, but before that he is greeted by the man that captured him, the Witch Hunter Giles Redferne played by Richard E. Grant. Before the judgement is carried Lucifer frees the Warlock and opens a portal, not satisfied the Warlock will pay for his crimes Redferns follows the Warlock through the portal. The Warlock now in the present-day California crashes through the window of a Flat, wounded. The residents Chas, a gay man and Kassandra, a waitress her suffers from diabetes nurses him back to health. After recovering his health, the Warlock waste no time and makes an omelette out of Chas’ tongue, then heads to a fake psychic so he can speak to his father and learn why he was sent to the present. The Warlock is given the task to find and complete the Grand Grimoire that holds the true name of God and say he’s name backwards, Uncreating the world. Redferne and Kassandra chase the Warlock across the country in a race to find the pages. On the way the Warlock leaves death and terror in his wake.

Modern folktale has witches flying on broomsticks but the Warlock needs something more horrific to fly, boiled skin of an unbaptised child which he uses to reach the second location of the pages. The second set of pages are at a farm of the Mennonite family. The head of the family realizing the farm has been bewitched and paints a pentagram on the barn. On the trail Redferne is salting the leather of his whip, Kassandra asks why. “Warlocks loathe salt”, it hurts them he tells her. Redferne and Kassandra see the pentagram and head to the farm. Before Redferne confronts the Warlock, he learns of the Grand Grimoire and prepares to fight the Warlock. To ensure the Warlock escapes his nemesis he cast the Evil Eye on farmer, blinding him. Kassandra now cursed with aging two decades twice day is left to fight the Warlock alone while Redferne tends to the farmer. Kassandra facing her fear cripples the Warlock hammering a nail into the Warlock’s foot print and into an imprint of his head. Age now getting to her she chases after him and retrieves what the Warlock took from her that caused her to age.

Redferne ready to continue on his quest after saving the farmer, but Kassandra selfishly wants to run away and go home. That is until Redferne tells her what would happen if the Warlock is to find the last third of the Grand Grimoire. With no real choice Kassandra agrees to help stop the Warlock, but tired of chasing, she figures they should get ahead of him and take a plane to Boston and find the last pages before he does. They figure to go the local church of Boston, Redferne see that although things have changed from his time, things are still the same as he is able to navigate the streets to the church. They meet the Priest and are told that the last pages are buried in a local cemetery. Shortly after Redferne the Kassandra leave the priest the Warlock shows up at the Priest home and threatens to cause a miscarriage with his wife’s baby.

Kassandra and Redferne find the grave and learn that its Redferne’s. Before leaving the cemetery, they find that the graves are being moved and that the pages are no longer safe on holy ground. They get the pages when the Warlock attacks, capturing Kassandra and sticking needles in her foot. Redferne challenges to Warlock to a fair fight. During the fight Kassandra is thrown in a lake, which is filled with salt water. Redferne cheats by burning the Warlock on holy ground, rules now broken the Warlock puts his hand in Redferne’s mouth and makes him vomit dark magic. The Warlock now with the upper hand reconstructs the Grand Grimoire, about to name God backwards. He is stopped by Kassandra and stabbed in the neck with syringes filled with salt water. He burns to death from the inside, not done Redferne crushes the Warlock skull under his boot. Redferne knows that his time is up and, in another time, maybe Kassandra and himself would have had something, as he leaves in a whirlwind of time, he engraves a message to Kassandra on his tombstone.

Tombstone:

I shall remember you always. Til time and times are done.

Kassandra is left with the Grand Grimoire. She buries it in a layer of salt in Bonneville Salt Flats and drives away ending the story.

Highlights

  • A great scene is when Kassandra must chase and confront the Warlock by herself, she musters up all her courage and now sixty years old chases a train, and hits the Warlock in the hand claiming her possession back.
  • Another scene that stands out is when Redfern confronts the Warlock in the attic of the Mennonite home. And throwing a weathervane into the Warlock back while in mid-flight.
  • At the start we are led to believe that the Warlock is innocent until he cuts off Chas’ finger and bites his tongue out. 

Characters

Giles Redferne: Redferne plays the fish out of water character, he is lost in our time and the way we do things. He doesn’t let that stop him from adapting and doing everything he can to stop the Warlock. At the drop of a hat he goes from strong and sure, to afraid and frighten like children when he confronts his death in the cemetery. He can handle horrors that the Warlock brings and yet he is afraid to see his own corpse. He is both gentle and strong when he first meets Kassandra, he grabs her and bring her through the flat, and lets her go her the second he has what he needs. He shows her compassion when she is at her lowest and his strength is what gives her strength to fight the Warlock in the end.

Warlock: Julian Sands plays the Warlock in a unique way. Hammy at times but not to the point of lunacy and playing it up as a joke. With the power to extinguish the world and convey fear wherever he goes make him arrogant. Whenever his arrogance causes him pain by Redferne he adapts very quickly, but his pride keeps drawing to the surface. Whenever he grins you wonder what evil he has in mind for you, however, when he serious you better pray that you can escape his gaze. He isn’t seen much through the film and when he does show up you know something bad is going to happen to someone.

Kassandra: Kassandra starts off vein and shallow. We are shown that she does care for others when she agrees to help the Warlock at the start and she continues to push Redferne forward when his beliefs are getting in the way of his quest. If she didn’t use her inner strength to push Redferne anf herself onto a plane then they never would have caught up with the Warlock. She hates herself that she has to take shot for her diabetes, she doesn’t let it define her. She starts off afraid at even the thought of the Warlock and at the end she confronts her fear and kills the Warlock.

Conclusion

Warlock touches on our fears and manifest them into some unnatural. Warlock is a horror that stays with you, its rememberable. Fear can and does to affect everyone, and it holds us back in back. Dealing with the cause and confronting our fears is the way forward, not embracing what we are afraid of. Horror shows us what we are.

When the young boy is skinned alive, we don’t need to be shown that, like many movies today like the Saw series, our imagination is more terrifying that anything on the screen. Julian Sands plays the Warlock perfectly with every movement he makes you a left asking what will happen, which is one of benefits of horror. Never knowing what will happen and to whom.

The film doesn’t rely on special effects to show us that the Warlock is powerful and that he has the power to summon the Antichrist and end life on Earth. The budget was $15 million and made $9 million which does show in the film, however that hasn’t stopped them from making two sequels. So, although the quality of certain effects are poor it doesn’t affect the other-all film as there aren’t many on screen and the direction and use of them was planned out carefully. The big special effects were saved to the very end in the final confrontation.

Would it be considered a great film, no. It is good and enjoyable. You feel what the characters are and you wonder how they’re going to beat the Warlock. Sometimes old technology and believes are a way forward. The movie has a lot of messages and interpretations as to what they mean. The beliefs and point of views of the character are not harmful and anyone can get behind them. It’s a film that is suited for teens and adults. A film not to be missed in your lifetime.

Score

4.2/5

Other Warlock movies

To see the other Warlock films, you can find them on the Abyss Dreaming Pinterest page: https://www.pinterest.com.au/AbyssDreaming/warlock-movies/

References:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warlock_(1989_film)

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0098622/

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