"If victory favors me, I will protect your child with my life."

"I ask you not to worry about that possibility. Because my son and I live on the Demon Way in Hell, we're prepared to descend into Hell through the Six Realms and Four Lives."

Warlock: The Armageddon

tn_warlock2Remember how I have that problem with horror movies about witches, because they pretend that witches were real and the religious crusaders – who in real life executed totally innocent people based on a superstition – were right? WARLOCK had enough of a fun time travel premise and comic tone that it didn’t bother me that much, but I appreciate that in the sequel they go out of their way to avoid that problem. The solution: Druids!

Kenny Travis (Chris Young, Bryce from Max Headroom) is a high school nerd who is picked on by a popular (long haired) jock kid named Andy (Craig Hurley) who he calls “the school bully.” Andy makes fun of Kenny for reading comic books, but more notably accuses him of being satanic. Kenny doesn’t know it yet, but his father and some of the others are Druids who are charged with using magic runestones to protect the world from evil. But the Christian church-going townspeople blame all the evil shit that happens on this religious minority.

It’s easy to hate this asshole Andy, but not as easy to actually like Kenny. Can’t he be a nerdy underdog without being such an uncharismatic weiner? He stands there cowering while his fucking dad comes up behind him and uses magic to make the sprinklers go off on the jocks. Then all he can come up with to say to them is “Butthead!”

This, unfortunately is our hero who has to face off against the Warlock, who is played by Julian Sands but is apparently not exactly the same warlock he played in the first one. That’s pretty unusual, now that I think about it. As the movie’s Wikipedia entry currently puts it, “It is a sequel in title only to the 1989 film WARLOCK, and stars Julian Sands returning in the title role.” It’s kind of like if LADY DRAGON 2 starred Cynthia Rothrock again as the Lady Dragon but it was totally unrelated to the first one and not about the same lady dragon. Oh, wait. That is what they did.

This time some poor goth-ish lady in a New York highrise apartment is getting ready for a date with a Zach Galligan cameo when a sudden curse causes her to give violent birth to a pile of goo. And you dog owners who have given violent birth to a pile of goo can obviously relate to what happens next: her dog Obelisk (good name) assumes she made him dessert.

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So the pile kills Obelisk and then grows into a naked Julian Sands, which kills her by crying so that all the mirrors and glass in her bathroom explode onto her and then uses her body to communicate with the Devil and receive a mission to collect all the runestones and cause Armageddon or whatever.

One of the stones he gets at a fashion show, finds this lady that has it and takes her for a flight over the city, Superman style. It seems to turn her on. Then he drops her.

Meanwhile it turns into a Luke Skywalker thing where dad and his Druid buddies train Kenny how to use magic. He has to learn how to control a floating baseball with his mind, levitate in a yoga pose and pick up a chipmunk. There’s a high amount of low budget compositing effects in pretty much the last year when that stuff wouldn’t be done without the aid of computers, so that’s fun.

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This is another example of what I’m talking about, though. The way he trains in magic Druid powers is by learning to use his mind to make a baseball fly around. And then he sticks with the baseball thing, he keeps using it. And he (mistakenly) thinks it makes him a badass. This is what he says:

still_warlock2_4

How can you have magic powers and be riding a motorcycle and have a good lookin young lady riding with you and still be a dork? Make up baseball-themed one-liners, that’s how. It’s like if the Karate Kid always insisted on using sponges in all his fights and then tried to make car wash-related tough guy talk.

mp_warlock2But hey, it works for him. That girl he’s with is his actual human girlfriend Samantha (Paula Marshall), who that meanie Andy believes is his girlfriend. I can’t really respect her not straightening him out on that particular issue. I guess it must be on account of her dad (Bruce Glover, HARD TIMES) is the town’s only reverend and she’s supposed to go along with the community’s prevailing anti-druidic attitudes. But the rev actually is pretty cool about it, he tries to calm down everybody when they mob up and seem two seconds from heading to the pitchfork and torch storage shed. This is actually because he has a whole secret history with them and is very aware of what the real fuckin deal is.

There’s a weird thing that Kenny’s dad (Steve Kahan, Capt. Murphy from all four LETHAL WEAPON pictures) has to shoot him to death for him to be reborn. I don’t really get it storywise but it’s an excuse for a pretty cool Sam Raimi type camera move. Then his girl finds out she’s a chosen one too and she wants to get killed and come back as a living dead person too. So they can ride around on a motorcycle and deal with runes and warlocks and eclipses and the Holy Grail and all that shit that teens think is romantic. Stupid teens.

By the way, another thing about Kenny and his ability to get by on a minimal amount of likability: before he’s going to fight a witch he feels like this is what he should say to the virginal reverend’s daughter: “In the old days warriors would make love before going off to battle.”

And it works! Cut to them rolling around in a bunch of leaves. As Druids do. I don’t know what’s more presumptuous though, the sex request or referring to himself as a “warrior.”

Anyway, our teen Druid chosen ones get the Dagobah treatment and it keeps cutting to the Warlock, who is headed to them on a murderous cross country antiquing trip. He goes to a sideshow, where he picks up a screaming little person and impales her in an iron maiden for being a psychic. (Kind of hypocritical for a warlock who, at least when he was playing that other character, suffered under the Inquisition.) Also he picks up a prostitute who he scalps and throws out the window just to get blood to fuel his magic human skin map of the United States.

There seems to be an attempt to treat the WARLOCK sequels like Freddy pictures, between the new mythology and Dream Warrior like heroes and the string of gimmicky supernatural kills. For example there’s some artist dude and the warlock arts him to death:

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Director Anthony Hickox (SUBMERGED, BLAST) actually had some experience in making sequels that seem to want to be Elm Street sequels, having already done HELLRAISER III: HELL ON EARTH, which also starred Marshall. Meanwhile, it sounds like HELLRAISER was for sure the temp music, and composer Mark McKenzie (SON OF DARKNESS: TO DIE FOR II) does a decent job of mimicking it.

This is certainly a watchable sequel with lots of cool parts, and I respect that it completely switches things up. More of a rehash would’ve been more of a bummer. But this is definitely lacking the fun tone of the first one. I think the main appeal was in those lead characters, the likable airhead and the warrior from another era. These leads are only funny when they’re not supposed to be, so it’s not as good in my opinion.

But I don’t want to downplay how important it may be to the Druid community, who have to deal with either being completely ignored or portrayed in a more negative light. If this catches on you’ll probly have alot more people converting to Druidry.

 

This entry was posted on Thursday, September 24th, 2015 at 12:13 pm and is filed under Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

20 Responses to “Warlock: The Armageddon”

  1. I saw this a bunch of times when I was a teen and loved it way more than the first one, exactly because it was more like a Freddy sequel, with the exotic kills and funny oneliners (loved the scalping one).

    By the way, thanks for putting up that screenshot with Bruce Glover in it. When I was way too young to be watching such things, I came across this hardcore exploitation movie on late night television that was so violent that I almost couldn’t take it. I forgot the title and was never able to find it again, but I did remember the main villain’s face… and just now found out it was Bruce Glover. Turns out that film was called Kill Crazy and I just watched a bit of it on Youtube. It’s about a couple traumatized Vietnam vets that go on a camping trip but then get attacked by a group of heavily armed soldier type psychopaths. They torture and kill most of them, but then the last guy puts on a Rambo style headband and starts fighting back.

    It’s a shitty film though, so badly made it’s almost unwatchable, and the torture scenes that made such a big impression on me when I was 10 seem ridiculously tame 24 years later. Still, all this was worth mentioning for the final oneliner that the hero says to Glover before he shoots him: “You want sympathy? You can find it in the dictionary between “shit” and “syphilis!”

  2. Man, I gotta get on board the WARLOCK train. If I had to choose one thing I wanted to see more of in film, it’d probably be Swamp Things; but if I had to choose a second thing, it’d probably be druids. Anyway, I haven’t seen the original WARLOCK either. But both films sound like the kind of thing I could enjoy.

  3. Saw this one in the theaters opening night. Until that night, I’d never witnessed a crowd actually turn on a movie halfway through, as if they were expecting it to be good. Some guy even loudly declared “We should all try to get our money back!”. My dad retorted “It’s called Warlock The Armageddon, what the hell were you expecting?”

    That got a big laugh. Shut that guy up.

    Anyway, my dad and I went opening night because we enjoyed the first one so much. This one, not as much, but reading this makes me think about giving it another chance. (Though I never saw the OTHER sequels with Charles Rane in place of Sands).

  4. Vern, I absolutely love that you hate witch movies because you think it makes light of real peoples’ suffering. It’s a nice little humanizing insight to a badass reviewer.

    It makes me think about how I can’t stand those the dingo’s got your baby jokes. That was a real event! A real baby was carried off and never found and who knows how horribly it suffered. And that’s not even getting into the whole thing about the parents’ lives being ruined by being vilified unjustly. I can have a pretty dark sense of humor, but that’s just one that I can’t laugh about. I think maybe it’s in part because it’s never played off as dark humor. True dark humor has to have a note of respect, or at least acknowledgement that they’re twisted, and those dingo jokes are always played off like they’re in a fucking family comedy with a laugh track.

  5. Maggie, I’m pretty sure that joke started as a piss-take on the Aussie accent, and how bad Streep’s attempt at it was. Hence Alpa Chino giving Downey Jr’s character shit in TROPIC THUNDER and quoting that line about dingoes. I’ve never heard that quoted in a darker context, but if anyone does then yeah they’re a fuckin arsehole. Struth.

  6. Saw this one opening night. For some reason I thought it’d be fun to lay down in the back of a pickup truck on the way to the theater, but there were earwigs back there…

    Watched the original the week before (we used to try and be prepared for new movies back in high school) and it’s a goddamn classic compared to this one. Richard E. Grant knows how to have fun with a role and Julian Sands is beautiful but he plays every part pretty much the same, but it worked.

    This one didn’t because the bad guy and the good guys are in different films. I did love the Warlock’s line “Welcome to the other side of reality.” And I found myself saying that in weird situations since. I didn’t find the lead kid unbearable in this, but why would he be fighting the bad guy when you have a whole team of Druids (including the awesome R.G. Armstrong from Predator and Friday The 13th: The Series) who have been training their whole lives?

    The teenager stuff smacked of studio interference, the tone was off from the original, and it was like they thought they could make a slasher flick without going all the way (to be fair, that’s how I felt about Wes Craven’s Shocker too.) Anyway, there were some good moments and it might be worth a late night watch if it’s on tv, but don’t go out of your way.

  7. I can totally agree with you about the way that witches are portrayed as real and crusaders as heroes, this has always bothered me as well.

  8. Man I’d never even considered the witches are real crusders were right thing… wow yeah that’s super fucked up.

  9. I remember this being a lot of fun, in the cheesy-80s-wannabe-Freddy-sequel way and that I laughed damn hard at the Zach Galligan cameo. Not because suddenly Zach Galligan showed up, but because of what happens (and what we don’t see).

    IDLE HANDS might be the only other pro-Druid movie that I can think of, btw. Maybe those ASTERIX cartoons too. That Miraculix (Or Getafix, for you English speaking people) seems to be a cool guy.

  10. Vern, it’s funny that you take umbrage with films that present witches as real, but have no problems with guys like Menahem Golan using a tragedy like TWA Flight 847 less than a year later to exploit a story/revenge fantasy like THE DELTA FORCE. When I was 11 years old, I knew there was something gross about that. I still loved the shit out of the movie, but I’m not trying to take any moral high ground on witch movies.

    That being said, there’s plenty of films from BURNED AT THE STAKE to MARK OF THE DEVIL to BLACK DEATH that show the religious fanatics just as bad as any witches.

  11. Please review Hickox’s Full Eclipse with Mario Van Peebles.

  12. I remember seeing both Warlock 1 + 2 in a row and maybe I’m a wimp but I thought the exponential increase in gore in part 2 was kind of jarring and off-putting (I don’t recall the first one having much gore and just remember a more enjoyable, fun tone). Also, thanks for finally giving us the name of the captain in the Lethal Weapon movies. As a kid I always thought he was Richard Donner giving himself meta-cameos as “the boss”.

    Sunspot – that’s funny you mention The Delta Force being too soon – I totally forgot about that movie and I was just explaining to someone how Black Hawk Down was from a different age and seemed tasteless at the time because it was only a few years after the event it was about. Now with American Sniper and Captain Phillips and United 93, etc..it kind of seems par for the course to make a movie about a news event we feel like we just read about. (In the case of that movie Captive that just came out, I literally thought that happened like a year ago even though it was 10 years ago).

  13. Wasn’t this one of those rare cases where they started PG-13 and went rated R?

  14. This was on heavy rotation in my VHS days. Haven’t seen it in some 20 years tho.

  15. basing a horror franchise around Julian Sands was a pretty good idea, shame the execution wasn’t always quite there. There’s also a Super NES/Genesis adaptation of the movie, which in my very young days confused the hell out of me. Maybe one of the most inexplicable video game adaptations until Jean Pierre Jeunet’s City of Lost Children got a Playstation game.
    “This is based on a movie? Why haven’t I heard of it?”
    “I’m in a VHS-heavy environment and I can’t even find the thing? What is this?”

    As for anti-anti-witch horror films, you know, to balance things out a bit, I can easily recommend Witchfinder General (AKA The Conqueror Worm), which is one of the few non-supernatural witch themed horror flicks, and Vincent Price is predictably great in it. Surprisingly mean and nasty for a late 60’s film too.

  16. Has anybody here ever seen the one with Bruce Payne?

    I’ve always been meaning to catch it but also always forget to. I know if it would’ve been called WARLOCKS with Julian Sands Vs. Bruce Payne in a black magic showdown I would’ve seen it ASAP.

    Come to think of it that movie should still happen anyway. I wonder who owns the rights to the franchise? so that I could harrass the shit out of them with that suggestion.

  17. Max K. – I remember that game. Probably the weirdest horror movie tie-in since the BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA video game. I think the fact that you play as one of the druids kinda let it down. Would’ve been better if you controlled Richard E. Grant’s Witch Hunter from the first movie.

  18. “Maybe one of the most inexplicable video game adaptations until Jean Pierre Jeunet’s City of Lost Children got a Playstation game.”

    Eh, that one’s not that surprising, isn’t the game a Myst style point and click adventure game? A lot of games from the 90’s, including Myst itself and many games like it, had that steampunk kind of style as seen in the movie, so it makes sense to me.

  19. flyingguillotine

    October 5th, 2015 at 5:38 pm

    I recall enjoying this movie… It has elements of THE OMEN III and LORD OF ILLUSIONS, this idea of warring magic people using weird shit to fight. There’s one really cool beat in which the Warlock goes into an elevator with one of the Druids, and when the doors open the interior is painted in gore, and the Warlock just kinda strolls out, no big deal.

    Similarly, there is a sense that the Druids are pretty powerful, but in comparison to the Warlock they’re outclassed. I liked that they bring along shotguns to their climactic fight with the Warlock, but between firearms and magic they still pretty much get their asses handed to them.

  20. Neal2zod: the first one had a garbage bag full of full of body bits, including a prominent torn off breast. So…

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