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Warlock Collection (Blu-ray Review)

First Vestron Video restored the entire Wishmaster series and put it on Blu-ray, now they’re doing such with the Warlock trilogy. A lot of horror fans were first introduced to actor Julian Sands this way. The 1989 film and its sequels always seemed to be a staple sitting on the ma and pa video store shelves. Personally, I had never seen any of them until now, but I can recall perfectly the boxes for them, seeing Julian Sands’ evil gaze daring you to rent the movie to see what kind of mystical horrors he could provide. I love when I get to rectify those rentals I never made in my youth via reviews for Vestron and other companies of similar ilk. You can pick yourself up the two disc collection or pre-order now to have it in time for its debut release on July 2th on Blu-ray. 

Warlock 

In 17th-century New England, witch hunter Giles Redferne captures an evil warlock, 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, can Redferne finally defeat the warlock?

Oh, mister Warlock. Probably even a tier below Leprechaun in the legacy of iconic horror characters and franchise figures.  Julian Sands eats up this opportunity and is quite good in the role, but he’s never really scary. He’s about as scary as the big bad in most any fantasy film you come across. And that’s what this film feels like more like than anything else. Its closer to the Highlander movies than it is horror witchery like a Suspiria or The Witches of Eastwick or whathaveyou.  There is a sense of quest and adventure that comes before any sort of “Boo” scares and gore effects.

Warlock is some okay light viewing. For a guy who made some pretty down and dirty horror in the early 1980s, Steve Miner has a more soft direction for his mystical terror. You can’t help but feel there were aspects of Terminator and Highlander than influenced this movie. There are some cool moments with the Warlock, like where he chops off a finger and bites the tongue out a man’s mouth within thirty seconds. But, what hampers it down is its insistence on doing so much story. No, story’s not a bad thing, but it seems to take many breaks in action and such and not really throw anything engaging in the mix when things aren’t happening. But, like I said, this movie falls into the “fine” category. Watchable and harmless.

Warlock: The Armageddon 

That dashing Warlock is back, this time he’s after magic stones that have the power to open the gates of hell and let old scratch into our world. Collecting them is not much of a hassle for the blonde sorcerer until he crosses path with “druids” descendant Samantha and Kenny. Let the battle begin.

I’m gonna be the weird guy.  I thought this movie was pretty awesome. In all honesty it was a big step up for me from the first one. Yes, there is plenty in this plot and dialogue to snicker at, but that’s some of the fun I was having. Anthony Hickox knows his audience, realizes what kind of movie he’s doing and absolutely delivers one of his personal finest hours. Unlike the first one, this actually feels more like a horror movie than it does a dark fantasy film.

One thing that’s awesome, this film is gory and isn’t afraid to splatter at any given moment. There is some wild shit happening in this movie from the start. Just see the whole birthing sequence and tell me its not crazy. Stuff like this happens with no apology throughout the film. Its just gross. Julian Sands is also money this time out. They give him a better, more iconic look and he just eats up every scene, doing his best to prove he can hang with Freddy Krueger and Pinhead. This is his and the series’ finest hour.  And with the whole mythology getting a soft reboot at the beginning and nothing linking the two beside Sands, I say skip the first one and dive right in here. If you’re only to watch 1 Warlock film in your life, make it this one.

Warlock III: The End Of Innocence 

Kris was adopted and doesn’t know much about her past. One morning she is made aware of a house that is part of her biological family bloodline. She goes up to the creepy mansion, hoping to find out more about herself, instead she witnesses some ghostly phenomenons . Her boyfriend and friends eventually join her up there and everything becomes dandy again. That’s until suave Warlock joins the party with an agenda of his own brewing in his sick little head. He warms up to Kris’s friends, preying on their neuroses and subsequently commits a couple of murders, a couple of spells, some torture…all that wearing a slick leather jacket.

Why should I care about Warlock III? Ashley Laurence is why I should care about Warlock III. The Hellraiser 1, 2 and 6 beauty and talent jumps into the franchise and gives me something to care about. Laurence is someone who didn’t really take off, so its nice to see her in something of stature whenever you can get it. Unfortunately its not here in this obviously super low budget straight to video effort. The whole movie pretty much takes place on one enclosed set and really promises no scares. People have complained about it not linking to the other two, but really this is horror and that happened all the time back then. Its just a movie with limited resources that doesn’t really ever overcome them.

However, if it is a 1990s time capsule you are looking, stop drilling you hit oil! I couldn’t believe how much of that decade was present here. From the characters’ clothing and types to the music that would be used in a few places. Hell, these people even act like 90s movie characters do. There is even a sequence I swear was trying to be the opening of Friends without even realizing it. Warlock III is clearing trying to crib on the whole Scream archetype with dialogue. They have a set, they have actors, they have limited use of effects and it really shows. Unfortunately, even though its of that Scream era and contains an iconic horror face in the cast; Warlock III isn’t even 1/3 of the movie Scream 3 is. At one point the Warlock says “I’m sure this will be anything but boring”. I don’t think so, man. I don’t think so.

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: I decided to lump all three of these movies together as I thought, in terms of quality and look, they were all pretty damn similar enough. Either that or you’d hear me repeat myself three times in a row in one review. They all have pretty much your atypical Vestron Video look. Its a solid, above average transfer that is the best these have looked, but isn’t going to knock anyone’s socks off. Details are strong in them. The third film, though, has a pretty ugly looking, drained picture by design though conveys that cheap 90s straight to video look. The first film probably fairs best, but isn’t leaps and bounds above the other two. The images are crisp enough, okay in the sharpness department. Details on hair and clothes come on probably the best, with some environments actually impressing from time to time. Also, the gore effects in the second one translate really well, with goopy details, though the CGI in that film looks really bad with the advent of coming to Blu-ray. Over all, this is the Warlock series we are talking about, this is more than good enough.

Depth:  These aren’t flat, but they’re not wildly three dimensional in their appearance. Movements are smooth and cinematic with no real problems with motion.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and bring a bit heavier grain in its increased presence. No crushing was witnessed for the review of this film.

Color Reproduction: For all three films, the colors are mostly muted. Blood can have a nice rich, deep look to it and at times some clothing in the first two films looks a bit bumpy in terms of pop. The third film is really muted over all and doesn’t provide a whole lot of wow.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and have a consistent look to them from the start to the finish of each film. Details are solid, providing more details in close ups, decently in medium shots and nothing really to write home about any further than that. You can make out some good facial lines, blemishes, stubble, make-up and fine scarring/cuts/scrapes when at its best.

Noise/Artifacts: These each come with some grain and minimal specs/dirt present in the print.

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 2.0 Stereo DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics: Like the video, these three films all give a pretty similar performance to the ears. There are some good stereo moments of filtering your room with just some good right  to left action. The third film does carry some impressively deep moments in the score, though all three manage to bring some loud and booming action in the right moments. All three Warlock’s deliver pretty much what you’d expect, are a little more than good enough, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension:  N/A

Surround Sound Presentation:  N/A

Dialogue Reproduction:  Vocals are good and crisp as they could be with only minimal analog sounding distortions left intact here. Dialogue is always audible no matter the chaos.

Extras 

Warlock Collection is a 3-disc Blu-ray set. The first film is on Disc 1 and the sequels share Disc 2.

Disc 1

Audio Commentary

  • With Director Steve Miner
  • Isolated Score Selection featuring an audio interview with author Jeff Bond

Satan’s Son (HD, 25:04) – An interview with actor Julian Sands.  He talks about his theater background and stuff in relation to the character of the Warlock which all excited him including loving the script. Sands he recites lines and such during the interview. A fun anecdote is that when he signed on to the film he was told Sean Connery was going to be in the Richard E Grant role. Truth be told, they had sent a script to Connery and he was reading it, but that was it. Its a terrific interview and hearing him talk about the film has a level of prestige and affection akin to that of when Robert England discusses the A Nightmare on Elm Street films. Don’t worry, he also discusses the sequel and him not doing the third film.

The Devil’s Work (HD, 16:18) – An interview with director Steve Miner. Miner goes over where his career was at when they asked him to do it (Just did Wonder Years pilot, had a hit film with House at New World). He goes over his comfortable budget, working with the different actors and talks about some scenes and effects that ultimately didn’t make the movie. Toward the end, he talks about it being a popular home video title and the themes and characters as to why Twohy’s script still drives people to being interested in the movie today.

Effects of Evil (HD, 16:24) – Interviews with make-up effects creators Carl Fullerton & Neal Martz.  The two discuss their working relationship with one another and then go over the challenges of Warlock and the deadlines. While there were some frustrations with the film, it was never with Stever Miner. They also go effect by effect and also talk about the film’s last legacy and how they have no idea why they are still talking about this movie still to this day.

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 1:54) 

Video Teaser (SD, :32) 

TV Spots (SD, 2:41)

Behind-The-Scenes Footage (SD, 17:35) – Includes some off the cuff interviews or comments from cast and crew, as well as some set ups and rehearsals.

Still Gallery (HD, 9:07)

Vintage Interview Segments With Cast and Crew (SD, 40:28) – These are the full EPK interview sessions from the shoot. Includes Steve Miner, Julian Sands, Richard E Grant and more.

Vintage Featurette With Make-up Effects Creators Carl Fullerton & Neal Martz (HD, 5:50) – In the shop they show Mary Woronov’s eye prop as well as some disfigured corpses.

Vintage Featurette with Visual Effects Supervisors Patrick Read Johnson and Robert Habros, Animation Supervisor Mauro Maressa, and Matte Artist Robert Scifo (SD, 5:51) – This goes through the process of shooting a tower and adding a matte painting in post. It also covers a visual effects shot with magic involving Julian Sands, showing how it is done in post.

Disc 2

Warlock: The Armageddon

Audio Commentary

  • With Director Anthony Hickox

Theatrical Trailer (SD, 1:50)

TV Spots (SD, 1:14)

Vintage Making-Of Featurette (SD, 7:43) – An EPK for promotion of the film with narration, clips and interviews from the set and junkets.

Still Gallery (HD, 4:10)

Behind-The-Scenes Footage (SD, 4:57) – Consists of an effects shot from a desert road scene and another scene with the runway.

Extended Vintage Interview Segments with Actor Julian Sands, Director Anthony Hickox and Actress Paula Marshall (SD, 5:41)

Warlock III: The End of Innocence

Trailer (SD, 2:22)

Video Sales Promo (SD, :45)

Behind-The Scenes Footage (SD, 14:06) – All takes place pretty much on the same set and between 2 scenes.

Still Gallery (HD, 3:44) 

Vintage Interview Segments With Cast And Crew (SD, 43:19) – Features a good couple minutes of Q&A with each person including Ashley Laurence and Bruce Payne.

Summary 

As I mentioned, this is pretty much a C-List villain and series in terms of horror franchises, but its still a goofy bit of fun to revisit. This Blu-ray has the films both looking and sounding better than ever. The bonus materials (Especially for the first film), really help complete the films and make the release. Where its at right now is actually a sweet price point, making it about eight bucks a film. If you’re a horror collector, I feel this series may become a forgotten rarity in the future of home video, so even if you’re not too big on it, you may want to have it just for the sheer fact of collecting it.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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