Warlock III: The End of Innocence (1999)


Directed by Eric Freiser
Starring Bruce Payne and Ashley Laurence

Nice art student Kris (Laurence) discovers that she has inherited a big old house that is due to be demolished. Ignoring the warnings of a strange old woman, she and her college friends go up to the house, where they are stalked by creepy warlock Philip Covington (Payne), possibly because one of them lets the evil out of the frozen pipes.

See, it turns out that Kris was actually born in 1643 and sent through time by her mother – a good witch – to escape from the Warlock’s attempt to sacrifice her. Now Covington needs her friends to surrender her to him, so he afflicts them with a series of nasty spells designed to make them bow to his will. Eventually, all of them give her up, and Kris is tied to the altar to be offered up, then reborn as the Bride of Lucifer to come back and rule the Earth from beyond the grave.

Not jamming on the whole deal, Kris breaks free, and kills Covington with a sacred knife her mother hid in a doll. And why not.

What’s wrong with it?

What isn’t.

The acting is crappy, the special effects not so special; the sound is poor so you can’t hear much of the mumbled exposition. Whole sections of the film make no sense, the rules of the sacrifice seem to change a whole lot, and even the Warlock seems a little unclear on exactly what it’s supposed to do. The characters are all pretty unlovable, and the fates to which they are subjected not the most imaginative in horror movie history.

The first half of the film is also pretty damn dull, with Bruce Payne sowing discord among a group of high school students: Not exactly a true challenge of his Machiavellian skills.

What’s right with it?

Bog all. I suppose that at least it’s only and hour and a half long.

How bad it is really?

They apparently couldn’t get Julian Sands. That’s how bad this film is. It isn’t much worse than either of the other two in terms of a cool, clinical analysis, but it takes itself so damn seriously and that just robs it of the brioche the others had.

Best bit

En route to the house for the first time, Kris is forced to stop by an old lady standing in the road. The old lady tells her she won’t find anything good, and she should go home. Then Kris drives on, and the old lady goes back to standing in the middle of the road. The inescapable conclusion is that the old lady just does this every time someone drives past, just for the hell of it.

What’s up with…?

  • The big sacrifice deal? Even the Warlock can’t seem to make up his mind who gets laid once the deal is done; him or Lucifer.
  • The random plumber death? There’s really no rhyme or reason for the plumber who gets killed near the beginning. He shows up to fix the pipes at an empty house, climbs a ladder and is thrown to his death by an exploding window. Then no-one mentions him again, and somehow his van gets moved and his tools end up inside.
  • Pipes of darkness? When the fairly decent stoner musician tries to fix the pipes, evil escapes. What was evil doing in the pipes? Did the witch try to flush him or something?
  • The cine-film in the nook? At once point, Kris runs into the garden but is trapped. Drawn to a light in a stone nook, she sees a cine reel of herself running across the garden, over and over again; for no reason whatsoever.


Production values: Low. The lighting is okay and the print fairly glossy, but the direction weird and choppy, and the sound is terrible. Also, the soundtrack is this appalling eighties Goth tripe. 17

Dialogue and performance: Shoddy. The script is a mess, explaining everything poorly. This is compounded by the dire performances form the cast of wooden young things. I mean, Bruce Payne is the acting highlight, here once more in full hissy pantomime villain mode. 15

Plot and execution: Pretty damn half-arsed. A warlock chasing a bunch of dumb kids around a house, and we don’t even get any decent deaths. Plus the sacrifice makes little sense, and the whole time-travel thing is thrown in on the fly to complicate matters. 16

Randomness: Oh wait! I was sent through time when I was eleven, but I don’t remember. Weak, at best. 15

Waste of potential: Well, be honest now: This was Warlock III. We didn’t expect much. 7

Overall 70%


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