Wednesday, October 27

Some quick thoughts on Warlock: The Armageddon (1993)

In a quest to unleash his father upon Earth, Satan's son (Julian Sands) returns in search of seven scattered runestones. A reign of terror is left in the Warlock's wake as he acquires the rocks from their hapless, present day owners. The final stone rests in the hands of the Druid descendants of the original keepers. The family's warriors, a teenage couple, are the only ones that stand between the Warlock and a Hades reality with their newly discovered ethereal abilities.

Steve Miner's Warlock (1989) was a genuine surprise. A fluid genre picture with a welcomingly heavy reliance on its creative fantasy aspects that never once becomes boring. Unfortunately, Anthony Hickox's retread strips much of the quaint mythology in favor of a straightforward "horror" follow-up to its own detriment. That doesn't sound too bad, but it's obvious the increase in blood was an easy-way-out response to a budget several million less than the first. In fact, the first scene featuring the Warlock, in which he's forcefully reborn from a woman who possesses the "birth stone", features way more gooey grue than in all of the first film. Warlock's inventive use of ancient lore is also handicapped here and usually acts another excuse for some blood.

Julian Sands is back in the titular role, again turning on the cold menace, just to lesser impact given the more show than tell of his evil deeds. The reliable father of Crispin, Bruce Glover, shows up in another priest role helping the young Druids in their combat. Everyone else is the usual muddling talking wallpaper for such a production; although George "Buck" Flower and Zach Galligan of Hickox's Waxwork have one line walk-ons.

Though the actors don't worsen the bloody ho-hum; the painful lack of funds often distracts. The town that the protagonist Druids inhabit, an obvious "western town" studio backlot with a wide main street and large wooden buildings, is appropriately redressed to look modern. There's even a bit of gun standoff with the Warlock at the climax as a wink to the set's real purpose. The scant optical effects are solid like in the prior film, but the introduction of some clunky early '90s CG is an eyesore. Ulitmately, Armageddon is merely a passable time waster despite lacking that fun spark that made the Miner/Twohy film perpetually entertaining.

As stated before, Trimark's Warlock DVD features a poor unmatted full frame transfer. The now Lionsgate merged distributor boosts the specs of Armageddon with an anamorphic 1.85:1 widescreen presentation. Problem is the image is so relentlessly soft and drab that objects kinda "clump" together. A great example of a weak 16x9 transfer from the DVD format's early days. The film's trailer and "hidden" trailer for Vincenzo Natali's Cube (where's the Blu-ray?) are the only extras. Don't expect a new edition of Armageddon, the sealed copy I viewed was in one of those recent and annoying reduced plastic, eco-bullshit cases.


Jeremy [Retro] said...

totally agree... i enjoyed it... funny story when i saw this in the show i was unaware i had an ear infection which caused my to be off balance... this movie made me sick, really... well it's funny now.

Franco Macabro said...

I remember thinking the same thing about the western town in the ending of the film. It felt out of place.

The first one had cool make up effects, lots of gooey stuff, but on the visual department, it sucked sometimes, I remember hating some of the flying effects toward the ending of the first one.

I do love that scene in the beginning where he is floating inside of the dungeon trying to break free from his chains.

I need to see this third installment, havent seen it since it was first released way back when!

J. Astro said...

I kinda go the other way - found the first one boring, enjoyed the second one faaar more. But can definitely agree that the pic quality is kinda the pits on the ARMAGEDDON release (mine was included in that 'body bag' set from last year, which I assume you also are referring to.

Oh, well. Better than nothin' at all. I'm more of a WISHMASTER man, anyway. you dare tread upon the staircase?

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