What You Need To Know:
(LL, S, VVV, O, Ab) 11 obscenities and 5 profanities; graphic violence (gut knifing, finger chomping, eye gouging, tongue extraction); and, blasphemy, spiritism and occultism.
Proficient research into the occult makes for an imaginative, albeit blasphemous, supernatural thriller about a devil’s disciple in WARLOCK, who, on the eve of his execution in 17th-century Boston, is transported nearly 300 years into the future by his master.
Also caught up in this time warp is his mortal nemesis, witch hunter Redferne. Both end up in present-day Los Angeles. Here they meet waitress Kassandra, whom the Warlock hexes, causing her to age 20 years every 24 hours. Redferne, who’s a bit lost in the modern world, teams up with Kassandra to track down the Warlock and terminate his evil mission.
What is the Warlock’s mission? To bring together the three parts of the “Grand Grimoire,” the Bible of all witch books that, once the Warlock assembles it from three different locations in the United States, will enable the devil to undo all of creation. As for the Warlock’s reward, he will become the only begotten son of Satan.
Except for a couple of gory moments near the beginning (a tongue extraction, finger chomping and an eye gouging), the film relies on suspense for thrills. To advance the action, it conjures up all sorts of wives’ tales and superstitious beliefs. Redferne, for instance, uses a witch compass to hunt the Warlock. Kassandra, out to recover a charm bracelet through which the Warlock casts his spell, finds success by driving a brass nail through his footprints.
Unlike other schlockmeisters who dominate the genre, director Miner concentrates on his actors and character development as Redferne and Kassandra chase after the Warlock. In humorous contrast to Kassandra’s hip chatter, Redferne’s language is kept rigorously ancient.
The climax comes when Redferne and Kassandra fly off to Boston to uncover the third set of unholy witch papers ahead of the Warlock. Buried in hallowed ground in an old cemetery, the Warlock manages to retrieve the remaining pages that reveal the “lost, but true name of God,” which when he utters it in reverse will thwart creation. Not to give away the ending, it has something to do with vocal chords and a wives tale about saltpeter.
Although the writing in WARLOCK contains some blasphemous ideas about God, it is not the type of film that seeks to blatantly promote the cause of evil. In fact, considering their context, statements made by unchurched characters against baptism and Christianity actually come out on the side of Christianity and baptism, when one considers what befalls them.
On the other hand, totally anathema to and forbidden by God, the Warlock goes to a spiritist and says, “Channel me a spirit.” The demonic, ghoulish apparition that results is one reason why WARLOCK is not a film for Christians, but for the unsaved it may at least start them thinking on things like the evils of witchcraft, church going and baptism–and, lead them to saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.