Monday, August 7, 2017

Lionsgate Conjures Us Up Vestron Video's "Warlock" Collection

"Warlock" was always a favorite movie of mine in the VHS days of home entertainment and I've been waiting a long time to get it in my hands for my collection. Thanks to Lionsgate, I now have the Vestron Video Collector's Series' "Warlock" Collection 3-Film Set on my shelf. The 2-disc collection features the first film on one disc and "Warlock: The Armageddon" and "Warlock III: The End of Innocence" on another. Each film has its own charm and personality and maintains a certain level of quality in its own way.

In 17th-century New England, witch hunter Giles Redferne (Richard E. Grant) captures an evil warlock (Julian Sands), but the conjurer eludes death with supernatural help. Flung into the future, the warlock winds up in the 1980s and plans to bring about the end of the world. Redferne follows the enchanter into the modern era and continues his mission, but runs into trouble in such unfamiliar surroundings. With the help of a young woman (Lori Singer), can Redferne finally defeat the warlock?

"Warlock" is a wonderful example of late 1980's horror filled with a nice balance of cheesy acting played against Julian Sands' subdued and theatrically-trained Satanic servant. The film really plays on the whole fish-out-of-water angle as both the Warlock and his hunter happen upon modern day inventions and trappings. The practical effects are fun and convincing while the special effects show their age, but that just adds more enjoyment for the core audience for this cult classic. A musical score by Jerry Goldsmith affixes a whole other level of sophistication that is missing from the other entries in this franchise.

In "Warlock: The Armageddon," two California teens (Chris Young, Paula Marshall) fight a warlock (Julian Sands) for control of six Druid rune stones from the 17th century. The fate of the world hangs in the balance as the stones are the key to a ritual which will bring to life the Devil himself.

"Warlock: The Armageddon" has a much more "epic" feeling to it. Director Anthony Hickox took the Romeo and Juliet aspect of the story and really brought it to life onscreen amidst all the witchery and mayhem. The script brings a classic hero's tale to the modern times (of the 1990s) in a very engaging manner. The special effects don't really hold up in new viewings, but I think that's part of the draw to these films for forgiving horror fans. There's way more gore in "Warlock: The Armageddon" than the previous movie with some scenes that might leave casual horror viewers feeling a little queasy.

A demonic stranger preys upon a woman and her friends in "Warlock III: The End of Innocence." His quest is to unleash the ultimate satanic evil and will do anything in his power to accomplish his evil crusade.

Co-Writer and Director Eric Freiser seemed to have something to say with "Warlock III: The End of Innocence." While the first two movies in the "Warlock" series are your typical good vs. evil tales, Fresier takes his opportunity to get a bit more personal with his story. He brings up subjects like temptation, testing friendships, and the power of the flesh. He begs the questions, "What would you do to stop the pain and get what you want?" The Warlock almost acts as an evil genie-in-a-bottle granting wishes as he he heads toward his own personal endgame. A weaker musical score and a heavier reliance on nudity and sexuality hurt the film, in my opinion.

All of the "Warlock" films are rated R for different levels of horror violence and gore, sexuality, nudity, and language. "Warlock III: The End of Innocence" has a heavy focus on S and M when it comes to its sexuality. The sort of gore you can expect is a scalping, body parts being severed, and a rather disgusting and bloody "birthing" scene which will no doubt leave a lasting impact on you.

The special features for the "Warlock" Collection seem to dwindle with each film in the series. The original comes packed with extras including a new interview with actor Julian Sands. We get director audio commentaries with the first two movies along with behind-the-scenes footage and featurettes and new and vintage cast and crew interviews. each film does include trailers and still galleries.

The "Warlock" movies are directed by Steve Miner, Anthony Hickox, and Eric Freiser. They star Julian Sands, Bruce Payne, Lori Singer, Richard E. Grant, Chris Young, Paula Marshall, and Ashley Laurence. Each film is approximately 95 to 98 minutes long.

The "Warlock" Collection is available now on Blu-ray.

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