Warlock review (DVD)

When I heard that the then-upcoming DVD of Warlock was the film's very first release on the format, I was genuinely shocked. How is it that it has taken this long for such an absolute gem of a movie to become available on disc? Cult classics have been finding their way and reaching new audiences on the medium for many years now, and it's finally time for us to embrace the supernatural charm of 1989's Warlock at home and in a nicely cleaned-up transfer.

When an evil warlock (Sands) escapes execution in 17th century Boston after Satan creates a portal that leads into the future, Scottish witch-hunter Redferne (Grant) takes hot pursuit and kick-starts a cat-and-mouse chase throughout 20th century Los Angeles and beyond as the sorcerer searches for pages from a satanic book by the name of The Grand Grimoire, which contains the real name of God, the prime ingredient for a recipe for disaster that, when spoken, will result in the 'uncreation' of the world.

Produced by Roger Corman's New World Pictures in the company's dying days, Warlock is a really quite sinister movie that is far more adult-orientated than its new 12 certificate may suggest. But even with a very dark backbone, the film is a great deal of fun and contains some brilliant gags. Ultimately it's a perfectly balanced black comedy. And as for Sands and Grant, well, their roles are fine examples of inspired casting. They both suit their respective characters excellently.

Sure, the special effects look dated in 2011, especially the scenes where the warlock takes flight, and the lovely Lori Singer's make-up following the ageing curse Sands puts on her at one point does look pretty ropey, but the film was hardly a big-budget blockbuster waiting to happen.

The success of the picture gave way to a couple of forgettable sequels, but the original can most definitely not be discarded in the same way. With a witty script, memorable scenes and great performances from the leads, Warlock is constantly entertaining and offers plenty of re-watch value. '80s movie connoisseurs will love it.

EXTRAS None, not even the trailer, which is a real shame.

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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