Since the re-launch of the Vestron Label, bringing a catalog of films (now owned by Lionsgate) to Collector’s Edition Blu-Ray, has been a trip down memory lane to a time when VHS ruled the world and mom and pop video stores were on every corner.
Gone now are those days of old, but the films live on, long after the video stores have closed and VHS has become obsolete – except to some who still collect VHS. To see these films coming back around, and given the Blu-Ray treatment, to be enjoyed by this generation (a generation who missed out on the VHS craze and stores) is a wonderful experience, and Vestron is doing a fantastic job rescuing these more obscure films from falling into the abyss.
Vestron’s latest releasing: Warlock: 3 Film Set Collector’s Edition is the eleventh releasing from the studio that began with Chopping Mall and Blood Diner last September. To say these releasing’s have been a huge success may be an understatement; people are screaming for more, the next announcement from Lionsgate, anticipating what the next film in the series is going to be – at this time there has been no announcement on the next films in the Collector’s Edition Series.
But for the time being, we are going to have to make do with their latest releasing, Warlock.
Let’s dive into the films and Blu-Ray, shall we.
WARLOCK: A Brief History
The first Warlock film was directed by Steve Miner (Friday the 13th: Parts 2&3, Halloween: H20, and House) written by David Twohy (Pitch Black, Riddick, and Below) and was originally to be distributed by New World Pictures – founded by Roger Corman – in 1988 on an estimated budget of seven million dollars.
But that was not to be.
New World Pictures filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy prior to Warlock’s releasing, only after the film’s trailer had played in theaters and on TV, causing the release of the film to fall into the unknown at the time.
Would anyone ever see Warlock or would it be lost forever, buried in a vault somewhere?
The fan buzz around Warlock in the late 80s was huge, and people were question where the film was, and, what happened that it was no longer getting a release. No one, at that time, knew Warlock’s fate. Some thought Warlock would be dumped onto the home video market (director Steve Miner thought that’s what actually happened for years), but thankfully Trimark Pictures acquired the rights to the film and instead of putting Warlock out on home video, they decided to released it theatrically where it would go onto gross over nine million dollars in just its theatrical run.
But much like the black magic powers the Warlock possess in the film, the movie seemed to proses its own magical powers when it hit VHS. VHS was the saving grace for Warlock; it was one of those rare movies that wouldn’t stay on the shelf as it was repeatedly rented out over and over, quickly making a lot of money and gaining a huge cult following in the process.
In 1691 Boston, a warlock is being tried and sentenced to death for his crimes of practicing black magic. He escapes, magically, to future 1989 Los Angeles where he begins searching for parts of the Devil’s Bible that has been scattered across the US. Trailed by a witch hunter from the warlocks own time and a woman he’s put a curse on, they must stop him before he can collect all the pages and find the true name of God, which he can use to destroy the world.
First off, the upgraded Blu-Ray looks fantastic! To be perfectly honest, I had only ever seen Warlock (and including its sequels) on VHS. I had, just in the past year, revisited all of them, unknowing at the time that Vestron was going to be releasing this edition. I knew what the picture looked like on VHS, so I was excited to watch them on Blu-Ray for the first time. WOW! I was blown away. It was like I was watching Warlock for the first time again; seeing things crisper and brighter than I ever had before, with detail that was so sharp it nearly hurt my eyes.
The first film in the three film series is loaded with extra features that are sure to please any fan of the movie.
“Satan’s Son” and interview with actor Julian Sands: is great fun, with the actor discussing how he became involved in the film, how he viewed the warlock character, and what it was like working on the film, as well as the sequels and why he was not involved in the third film – which I will go into a little bit later.
“The Devil’s Work” with Director Steve Miner: is also a must watch if you are a fan of Warlock. Miner goes into how he became attached to the project, what it was like casting, shooting, editing, scoring, and releasing the film when New World filed for Bankruptcy. In the interview, Miner doesn’t hold back when talking about the film, his feelings about the final product, and some of the stuff he does and doesn’t like about the film.
“Effects of Evil” with Make-Up Effects Creators Carl Fullerton and Neal Martz: is a fun little segment where the two effects guys talk about working with the actors, creating effects, and go into great detail on the lost scene (that was reworked) that involved a woman’s nipples turning into the eyes of Satan. The segment is well worth your time.
The commentary with Director Steve Miner and a moderator is fun to listen to with an insightful look into the film and what it was like shooting some of the scenes, as well as Miner having no knowledge of the film ever played in a theater - which was shocking to hear that the film’s director didn’t even know Warlocks fate at the time of its release.
The rest of the disc is filled with Vintage behind the scenes footage, interviews, TV and theatrical trailers, as well as a still gallery that shows some of the aforementioned deleted nipple scene.
WARLOCK SPECIAL FEATURES (Disc 1)
• BRAND NEW Audio Commentary with Director Steve Miner
• Isolated Score Selections/Audio Interview with Author Jeff Bond
• All NEW Interviews
• “Satan’s Son” with Actor Julian Sands
• “The Devil’s Work” with Director Steve Miner
• “Effects of Evil” with Make-up Effects Creators Carl Fullerton and Neal Martz
• Behind-the-Scenes Footage
• Interview Segments with Cast and Crew
• Featurette with Make-Up Effects Creators Carl Fullerton and Neal Martz
• Vintage Featurette with Visual Effects Supervisors
• Theatrical Trailer
• Video Trailer
• TV Spots
• Still Gallery
Warlock: The Armageddon: A Brief History
After the success of Warlock, and the rights now fully in Trimarks pocket, a sequel was inevitable. Released under Trimarks horror/schlock banner, Vidmark, on September 24th 1993, Warlock: The Armageddon opened to dismal reviews and a poor box office return.
This time directing duties had been turned over to Anthony Hickox (Waxwork, Waxwork 2: Lost in Time, Hellraiser 3: Hell on Earth).
Warlock: The Armageddon, is a lot different from the first one; the stories are not connected and only share the title. Where the first film there are little pockets of humor, a fish out of water story at times to break the tension, this one is played dead serious with a dread filled tone of doom and dismay. It’s a mean and nasty film, filled with blood and gore, violence and death. Warlock: The Armageddon feels every bit of a 1990s Vidmark movie, right down to the way it’s lit and shot.
Though Hickox does bring a lot of his normal flair to the film, and the skill behind and in front of the camera is there (Sands is particularly great in this one and is loving every moment), Warlock: The Armageddon falls into that 1990s sequel trap where everything the second time around had to be bigger, bloodier, nastier than the first.
An order of Druids train their children to battle an evil Warlock determined to unleash Satan upon the world by bringing a collection of six mystic rune stones together.
Much as I’ve stated with the first disc, the picture on Warlock: The Armageddon looks amazing. The upgrade to Blu-Ray is well worth the price to add to your collection of Vestron’s Collector’s Series.
The extra features are minimal with only Anthony Hickox commentary on the film. It’s a fun listen, and he talks about some of the things he doesn’t like about the movie, especially the love story between the kids and the lack of the warlock being in the film. He also says that this is one of his least favorite films that he’s made. I can’t say I agree with Hickox, as I do really like Warlock: The Armageddon for its mean and downright nasty tone; there is something about this film that gets under your skin the way the first one didn’t. Also, the way Sands plays the warlock in this movie is scary; he’s much meaner, darker, and more sinister than before.
The vintage making of featurette with behind-the-scenes footage that was pulled from an old VHS (yes, it does show) and the vintage interviews with Actors Julian Sands and Paula Marshall, and Director, Anthony Hickox are both fun to watch and listen to them talk about the film as it was being made.
WARLOCK: The Armageddon: SPECIAL FEATURES (Disc 2)
• NEW Audio Commentary with Director Anthony Hickox
• Vintage Making-of Featurette Behind-the-Scenes Footage
• Extended Vintage Interview Segments with Actor Julian Sands, Director Anthony Hickox, and Actress Paula Marshall
• Theatrical Trailer
• TV Spots
• Still Gallery
Warlock lll: The End of Innocence: A Brief History
After the failure of Warlock: The Armageddon, Warlock lll was released on October 12th 1999 direct-to-video. Julian Sands did not return this time to play the warlock; he felt the script, the production, and everyone involved seemed to be lacking the know-how of bring the film together. Though Sands passed on the third Warlock film, he is still very much open to the idea of returning to the roll that made him famous.
Warlock duties this time went to Bruce Payne (Drop Zone) and Ashley Laurence (Hellraiser) was cast as the female lead.
What Sands says in his interview “Satan’s Son” about Warlock lll is not far from the truth: Warlock lll feels cheap – which is was with only a two million dollar budget. The plot is slow. Payne isn’t scary as the warlock, nor very menacing, and he’s rather a bore to watch in the film. Though there are a few spots in the film that do build some tension and scares, especially when Kris (Ashley Laurence) first gets to the house, they are few and far between, and the runtime is extended with endless amounts of dialog that’s just a snooze-fest to sit through. And the ending is rather anticlimactic to say the least.
A college student unexpectedly finds that she has inherited a derelict house. Accompanied by a group of friends, she goes to clear it of heir-looms before the structure is demolished. Almost immediately, she and her friends are targeted by a powerful warlock who is interested in her bloodline.
Much like Warlock: The Armageddon the extra features a minimal. This time there is no director’s commentary, only a vintage making of segment, and vintage interviews with cast and crew. Trailer and Video Sales promo. And a still gallery.
There really isn’t much to talk about here…
WARLOCK lll: The End of Innocents: SPECIAL FEATURES (Disc 2)
• Behind-the-Scenes Footage
• Vintage Interview Segments with Cast and Crew
• Video Sales Promo
• Still Gallery
Warlock: 3 Film Collection is a must have for any lover of the films, or even if you’re just collecting the Vestron Collector’s Series. This collection will not disappoint. Though I would have liked more special features on Warlock: The Armageddon, (I really don’t care about Warlock lll – I know that’s mean to say, but it is what it is) but most of my questions about that film were answered by Sands in his “Satan’s Son” interview of the first disc.
This collection is well worth your hard earned money. So continue to support physical media and pick up a copy before they are all sold out.
9 out of 10 Stars.
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