In the convoluted world of magical practitioners, it is often assumed that men are wizards and women are witches. The Harry Potter series went a bit of the way to fix this glib generalisation, showing that anyone can be a wizard, regardless of gender. But if we had our say, we’d not go for something as pedestrian as a wizard, witch or sorcerer. Call us a Warlock, because that just sounds bad ass. And as this gem from the late-Eighties demonstrated, warlocks ARE bad ass, With a capital B, A and D…
From the pen of the man who created Riddick, Warlock starts in 17th century Boston, where a bunch of puritans have captured a male witch said to have made a deal with the devil. That turns out to be spot-on when Satan rescues the villain and transports him into the 20th century. Here our antagonist is instructed to collect the pages of a particularly evil book that, when completed, can undo creation itself. Luckily for us all, an intrepid witch hunter manages to also jump across time, tracking down the devil worshipper before all hell literally breaks loose.
Folklore is often a fertile bed of ideas for horror films. Strangely the paranoid musings of American Colonists are not tackled that often. Films like The Blair Witch Project played on this, but few movies quite went for the topic as wholeheartedly as Warlock did. The bad guy in this is formidable and it’s easy to compare the witch hunter’s challenge to that of Kyle Reese in the first Terminator film. Some top-level special effects and a solid cast round Warlock into a well-paced and fun movie. But the real star is the warlock himself, creating an ambiance and look that was adopted almost completely by Harry Potter’s Lucius Malfoy. Seriously, they both even have pointy shoulder pads.
Warlock is that kind of horror movie that only comes around every so often: it is brilliantly original, but still sticks to the staples that genre fans expect. It pushes the boundaries, but not so far as to replace style with bad taste. And in a world of rehashed monsters and horrors from beyond, it actually taps some very original material. Warlock is a vivid memory for anyone who grew up in the Eighties, if only because we all now know to a) never talk to strangers, b) take curses by men speaking in olde english very seriously and c) always carry salt on you.
Cinophile is a weekly feature showcasing films that are strange, brilliant, bizarre and explains why we love the movies. This week’s movie was suggested by Noelle Adams.
Last Updated: September 9, 2013