“Warlock” Collection [Vestron Video Collector’s Series] [Blu-Ray]

It’s ironic, and perhaps not incidental, that Vestron would release the entire movie series for “Wishmaster” and “Warlock.” They’re two weak attempts at movie maniacs in a pretty stale decade for horror, and deep down while they have potential to be menacing and terrifying horror villains, they’re poorly realized, and potentially trail off in to absolute nothingness. “Warlock” is not as bad a slope as “Wishmaster,” as it managed to gain some momentum in the nineties, even sporting a Sega Genesis video game in 1995 which involved platforming, and fighting off zombies and demonic beasts with magic spells. 1989’s “Warlock” is a tonally confused movie that wants sorely to be a horror film, but ends up sliding in to dark fantasy territory by the time it draws to a close.

Really the reason to see Steve Miner’s fantasy horror film is because of the inherent camp, and Julian Sands giving a rousing performance as a power hungry witch. True the movie is called “Warlock,” but Sands plays a witch who has the ability to time travel. The titular evil Witch is doomed to be executed, but before the ritual can be carried out, he warps from the 1600’s to the late eighties. After warping in to the living room of a young girl named Kassandra, she and her roommate assume he’s some drunk who wandered in and care for him. Little to they know he’s on a mission to find and unite three sacred parchments that will give him the power to end existence. With the help of a time travelling witch hunter named Redferne, they race against time to find the last parchment before the Witch does.

“Warlock” is filled with vicious violence that’s undercut by a lot of fun camp that makes a sub-par film in to a somewhat fun experience. Kassandra has her own stakes in finding the witch as he’s hexed her to die from rapid aging, and along the way Redferne has to adjust to modern times. There’s a comical confrontation with police, and his anxiety riding a plane for the first time, all the while the witch leaves a trail of victims in his wake. Miner’s concept and premise has oodles of potential that never rises to the challenge of breaking conventions. 1993’s “Warlock: The Armageddon” is a loose sequel starring Sands, which involves a group of ancient Druids trying to prevent the birth of Satan’s child, who is reincarnated every millennium. With six magic runes spread over the planet by the Druids, the curse if awoken again when in modern times a young woman in possession of a rune gives birth to the evil witch from the first film.

Now with the help from Satan, he sets out to find and re-unite the runes for—of course—world domination. Standing between him and the runes, though, is a pair of teens with supernatural abilities, and they race him to stop his reign of terror. This is a strictly completionist film, and it at least garners a starring role by Paula Marshall, who’s always been a painfully underrated babe. Finally out goes Julian Sands who dropped out the series, and enter Bruce Payne who replaces Sands as the titular Warlock—er, Witch…? Anyway, “Warlock III: The End of Innocence” from 1999 is a painful and mercifully final installment of the series starring horror goddess Ashley Laurence. Laurence plays college student Kris who inherits an old house from a distant relative.

Of course she decides to throw a party with her group the Cannon Fodder five, all of whom become victims of the titular Warlock, as played by Payne. Payne is apparently another Warlock entirely, and crashes the party as an architect who begins preying on the teens. Payne’s role feels like a glorified walk on role as his character is an afterthought as opposed to the first two films where Julian Sands made the very most of a thinly written villain. This compilation, much like the “Wishmaster” movie series is for completionist horror buffs for the most part, so this is a good capper in an otherwise sub-par movie series. That said, Vestron packs this set to the brim with extras and bells and whistles.

There’s a collection of trailers and TV Spots for all three films, vintage Behind the Scenes reel of footage with cast and crew interviews for all films, and another segment with more cast and crew interviews, only. There are Vintage make up featurettes for all three films, and a peek at the Visual effects for the trilogy. There’s also a still gallery for all three films, with the last of the films featuring promo and concept art. There’s an audio commentary with director Steve Miner and Nathaniel Thompson, who hosts the commentary and garners insight from Miner.

There’s an isolated score selection to listen to the music alone, an interview with Sands who discusses playing the Warlock, staying in character, and why he opted out of the third and final film. “The Devil’s Work” is a strong interview with Steve Miner who discusses his career, and “Effects of Evil” where we sit down with make up effects artist Carl Fullerton and Neal Martz. They speak about every big effect in the film, their careers, and how their effects still have an impact years later. Finally, there’s an audio commentary with director Anthony Hickox who discusses directing the sequel, casting the film, and why “Armageddon” is not a direct sequel.