Warlock – DVD review

Built on Sands

Release date: 18 April 2011
1989 * 12 * 99 minutes * £15.99
Distributor: Second Sight Films
Director: Steve Miner
Cast: Julian Sands, Richard E Grant, Lori Singer

Warlock‘s credits are a roll-call of cult favourites. Written by David “Pitch Black” Twohy, with Lake Placid‘s Steve Miner in the folding chair, genre legend Roger Corman on producer duties and celebrated tunesmith Jerry Goldsmith waving the baton, it sounds like a sure-fire triumph.
The titular spellmonger is a suave Julian Sands, demonically rescued from his execution in the 17th century and flung forward in time. He’s tasked with finding the Grand Grimoire which will undo all of God’s creation, but a hairy witch-smiter (Richard E Grant) zips across to 1989 too and hunts him, with help from kooky Californian Kassandra (Lori Singer).

It’s fun, though lacking much that could elevate it to iconic status. Humdrum dialogue and a lack of truly likeable characters are barriers to genuine satisfaction, plus it’s awkwardly derivative. Though billed as a horror at the time, Warlock’s more in the fantasy tradition that spawned Highlander – a fake Scottish accent and man-out-of-time plot seem engineered to bring Christopher Lambert’s 1986 hit to mind. Singer tags along looking like Pris from Blade Runner, and there’s trace DNA from The Terminator, as the time-travelling pair track each other across modern America, with mankind’s destruction as the prize.

These flaws are not, ahem, the end of the world. The two leading men deliver brooding performances, and there are amusingly grotesque moments as the Warlock randomly bites off a man’s tongue or ritually drinks a child’s fat. But the overall concoction fails to cast a spell.


Dave Bradley