Friday, 6 April 2012



Franchises can die in a variety of ways. They can just die a natural death as the audiences get fed up with them, or the makers just decide to conclude the series. Or they can be suddenly terminated by a really toxic entry that doesn't just reek as a movie but discredits the franchise as a whole and contaminates it for any potential future instalments. Who'd want to either make or watch Hostel Part 4 after the lame Part 3? Or a fourth ...What You Did Last Summer or Urban Legend after the rubbish third entries? In the case of the Warlock series, this movie kills the series stone dead by being drab, dull and pathologically stupid.

Warlock III: The End Of Innocence (a meaningless subtitle) has Hellraiser's Ashley Laurence as Kris Miller, an art student who inherits a rambling old house in the middle of nowhere. It's due to be torn down for some reason so she's got one weekend to remove any family heirlooms and documents. But no sooner have she and half a dozen friends, each of whom have the IQ of spinach, settled in than the Warlock turns up at the door and persuades each of the dimwit friends to forsake Kris, so she can be sacrificed to Satan and become mother to a legion of demons that will enslave the Earth blah blah blah.

This is a movie where the recasting of the central villain role doesn't just fail, it leaves the viewer in the uncomfortable and alien position of wishing it was still Julian Sands. Mr Sands attracts a lot of criticism, and a great deal of it is perfectly fair and justified, but the role of the unnamed Warlock in Steve Miner's late 80s original and the silly but enjoyable Anthony Hickox sequel actually fitted him very well. Maybe he didn't want to do any more in the series, maybe the producers couldn't afford him, and the Warlock character isn't the same warlock anyway, but I actually missed Julian Sands. It's also a movie with a shaky grasp of genealogy as Kris's great-great-grandmother is the witch who defeated the Warlock back in the 17th century. Unless that side of the family were all Galapagos turtles, you'd need about five more greats to get back to the late 1600s (allowing for thirty years for each generation).

Merely sorting out the maths wouldn't help, though. The characters are all idiots who show not a whit of concern when people start disappearing; indeed, two of them opt to strip to their rubber pants and indulge in a little bondage and flagellation rather than actually searching for their friend. No mention is ever made of the handyman who falls unspectacularly off his ladder, and outside of one brief sequence of hellish torture and a neat moment with a mirror reflection, it's a generally dull affair and a frankly boring movie. Made in Ireland back in 1998, and no further sequels have turned up since it bludgeoned the franchise to death. Utter warlocks.


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