Tag Archives: Julian Sands

Summer of Lovecraft: Witch Hunt (1994)

witch hunt
The woman in this poster is in the film for all of thirty seconds.

“It’s a kind of magic”

Directed by Paul Schrader
Starring Dennis Hopper, Penelope Anne Miller, Julian Sands, Eric Bogosian and Sheryl Lee Ralph

Private detective HP Lovecraft is hired by starlet Kim Hudson (Miller) to tail her unfaithful husband. When the husband is murdered by magic, anti-magic politician Senator Crockett (Bogosian) uses it as a linchpin for the investigations of his Unnatural Activities Commission. Lovecraft’s friend and neighbour Hypolita Kropotkin is framed for the crime and sentenced to burn.

Continue reading Summer of Lovecraft: Witch Hunt (1994)

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Warlock II: The Armageddon (1993)

WarlockII

“When he comes… all Hell breaks loose.”

Director Anthony Hicox
Starring Julian Sands, Chris Young, Paula Marshall

Centuries ago, an order of druids prevent the birth of the Antichrist, but are then slaughtered and their magic stones stolen by Satan’s minions.

In the present day, the Antichrist is born with almost no preamble and it is left to the last few druids to train two young druid warriors to destroy the Warlock, while he seeks to recover the magic stones, each of which must be given up willingly.

What’s wrong with it?

Warlock: The Armageddon is a silly kind of film. Honestly, the druid thing is a bit bizarre, and Anthony Hickox indulges once more in his love of splatter.

What’s right with it?

It is, in its way, a lot of fun. Hickox may be a schlock director, but I can’t fault his sense of fun. It has a nice finale too, with the heroes using a modern approach to get around the limitations of magic.

How bad is it really?

It’s bad, but it’s not bad. Sure, Sands isn’t the greatest actor ever, but he’s kind of got that going for him as the almost alien Warlock/Antichrist. Hell, in this instance we even have a reason why the stones aren’t drowned in the ocean deep, since they are swiped by the Satanists at the beginning.

Best bit (if such there is)?

One of the old druids foolishly tries to take on the Warlock himself. He catches up to him in an elevator, raises the magic dagger to strike, and then we cut directly to the doors opening and the Warlock stepping out of an elevator plastered in gore.

Alternatively the music for the first showdown, which consisted of a choir singing what sounded like ‘Evil, evil, evil, evil.’

What’s up with…? 

  • The ancient Druids of North America?

Ratings

Production values – Not bad for their day, if a little dated. The film doesn’t overplay the effects card and benefits because of it. 8

Dialogue and performances – Sands is oddly at home in the Warlock’s weirdo shoes, and the rest of the cast is serviceable if not actually good. The dialogue is not especially memorable, however, not even for any notable howlers. 12

Plot and execution – Again, the film is at worst workmanlike, competently shot and put together. The plot is simple, but a classic. 7

Randomness – Druids? The evil song? 11

Waste of potential – This is a solid entry in the Warlock series; not as good as the first, but streets ahead of the next. 8

Overall 45%

From the Archive – Warlock (1989)

Warlock

 

Directed by Steve Miner
Starring Julian Sands, Richard E. Grant and Lori Singer

After a long chase, witch hunter Giles Redfern (Grant) runs to ground the Warlock (Sands) who destroyed his wife. However, calling on his devil-given powers the warlock flees through time to the twentieth century, where the Devil charges him with tracking down the sections of Satan’s Bible: The Grand Grimoire – an indestructible book of evil magic which can bring about the end of the world.

Redfern and his unwilling sidekick, Kassandra (Singer) – a twentieth century girl cursed by the Warlock to age twenty years every day – chase the Warlock across the country. They track him by watching for the traditional witch-signs – flames burning blue, milk souring and so forth – and by using Redfern’s ‘witch compass’, and striking at him through tried and tested means such as driving iron nails into his footprints and burning him with salt (to which all witches are vulnerable, dontcha know).

Eventually, they confront the Warlock in a deconsecrated cemetery which turns out to hold Redfern’s grave (in which the last pages of the Grimoire are buried). The Warlock is vanquished, and Redfern returns to the past, leaving Kassandra to bury the Grimoire in the heart of the Utah Salt Flats.

What’s wrong with it?

Julian Sands; acting as wooden as ever, bless him. Lori Singer’s outfits, and in fact the whole late eighties look of the thing (although  in their defence, it was the late eighties).

What’s right with it?

The whole thing with the witch-signs, and Redfern’s witch-hunting gear, is very nicely done. Redfern himself is played with great aplomb and gusto by Grant, reveling in the role of the anachronistic Puritan zealot. The effects are minimalist, but reasonably decent, and the whole thing does have something pretty closely resembling a plot, plus a Jerry Goldsmith score.

How bad is it really?

Actually, it’s not half bad. It has a good conceit in the witch-hunting methods, Grant is always watchable, and the film trots along at a nice pace.

Best bit?

Probably Richard E. Grant lobbing a weather vane at the Warlock; or possibly the Witch Compass exchange:

“What’s that? Some kind of compass?”
“Witch compass.”
“That compass right there.”

What’s up with…?

  • Burning the Warlock over a basket of live cats after they hang him? Is that kosher New England witch-hunting? Damn these people were strange.

Ratings

Production values – Not bad at all for their day; although somewhat dated now. The SFX is mostly restricted to some wire-work, a few flames and Kassandra’s premature aging make-up. As I recall, the Warlock’s death scene might leave a little to be desired. 10

Dialogue and performances – For the most part, the acting is fairly solid. The dialogue is fairly dry, but delivered with enough panache and timing to make it work. Tragically, Julian Sands lets the side down, slipping gently from sinister and dispassionate into just plain wooden.12

Plot and execution – While the plot of Warlock is fairly straightforward, it is played out with decent pacing, and is more interesting than much modern fare (for example, Warlocks II and III, which are basically just about the gore and the skin shots). 8

Randomness – Well, Redfern continually comes up with new signs of a witch’s presence, and new ways to hurt them, but as most of these methods are pretty much accurate – or at least no more ridiculous than the real thing – it doesn’t entirely count as randomness. 10

Waste of Potential – As movies about time-hopping witches go, Warlock is pretty much the bomb. 5

Overall 45%