Maybe I’m weird, but the most anticipated Blu-ray release for me this year was not “Rogue One” or “La La Land,” but instead “The Warlock Collection.” Part of the new Vestron limited edition collection series from Lionsgate, these films deal with a Satanic warlock who wants to end the world. The original film features Richard E. Grant as a witch-hunter from the 17th century who, like the warlock, is zapped into 1991. Only Grant and Lori Singer can prevent Julian Sands from destroying the universe by saying God’s true name backwards and thereby undoing creation.
Lori Singer plays “Kassandra with a K,” a buoyant woman from the valley who joins the witch-hunt via necessity (the warlock puts an aging spell on her) but gradually falls for the sincere Grant. This film is distinguished by distinguished locales, good performances, a healthy sense of humor, and a wonderful Jerry Goldsmith score.
Sands is pure evil, but you like him: his suave British charm is hard to resist. Grant shines in a rare sympathetic role; you may remember him as the villain from “Hudson Hawk” or as the alchoholic in the great “Withnail and I.” Singer is sexy and feisty; what happened to her? Mary Woronov from “Eating Raoul” and “Night of the Comet” has a small role. Overall, a great film that I regret missing in theatres.
“Warlock: The Armageddon,” an almost unrelated sequel, is lower-budget but just as much fun. This time, Sands is more directly related to Satan, and his powers are much more sinister. Born in an oddball fashion full-grown from some random woman, Sands must acquire the correct precious priceless stones to end the world. This he does by tricking people into giving him the stones, then killing them Freddy Krueger or Wishmaster style. He even turns somebody into a Picasso! Who can stop his nefarious plot? The Druids, of course. and two dorky teenagers played by Chris Young and Paula Marshall. You would think the Warlock would easily win, but you’d be wrong. It all concludes in mano-a-mano fashion, as the dorky teen turns out to have the right stuff. This film, like the first, has very interesting special FX and is made with a kit of charm. I did see this at the AMC Saratoga 6 in 1993, and I miss seeing genuine B-films at the cinema. If you like Julian Sands and ridiculous horror films, don’t miss this one. It’s from the director of the “Waxwork” films and “Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth.”
Finally, we have “Warlock III: The End of Innocence,” where the Warlock is now played by Bruce Payne because Julian Sands didn’t like the script. This movie is about a college girl (played by “Hellraiser”‘s Ashley Laurence) who inherits a haunted house but wants to keep it so she can find out about her family heritage. She brings several friends along, and soon they are all being tormented by the Warlock, who tortures all the friends until they turn on our heroine. This film was OK but I couldn’t get into it. It didn’t fit with the other 2 films, mainly because it was too serious. This one I would recommend watching just once.
There are, of course, more bonus features on this set than I can count,, but the main thing is that you get 3 very entertaining ’90’s B horror films, painstakingly restored, for about $25. This set is so entertaining you’ll be tempted to give your soul over to the warlock. Julian Sands is the best horror baddie since Vincent Price, and these films show that off-the-wall, non-cliché efforts can be very entertaining. Don’t miss this Blu-ray set!