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The F*cking Black Sheep: Warlock: The Armageddon (1993)

THE BLACK SHEEP is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATH. We’re hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Dig in!

WARLOCK: THE ARMAGEDDON (1993)

DIRECTED BY ANTHONY HICKOX

Alright horror trivialists. Off top, what movie did THE AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR brazenly pilfer its premise from? Okay, so it’s right there in the article header, but damn if it isn’t a legitimate question to ponder. Or is it? Listen. The original six-issue run of Infinity War comic was first published in June of 1992. Well, celebrating its 25th anniversary next month is WARLOCK: THE ARMAGEDDON, which came out in September of 1993. Chances are the reverse is true, that screenwriters Kevin Rock and Sam Bernard read those issues and hammered out a quick script WARLOCK 2, which would have been entering production right around the time the comic ended its run. Awfully fishy. Either way, Julian Sands, aka The Warlock, is the mother*cking Thanos of loveable B-level horror glory. Dude was Josh Brolin when Brolin was still a Young Rider (look that shite up). But let us backup for a sec…

When it comes to horror movies, the prevailing wisdom among knowing horror connoisseurs is that, a). sequels are generally pretty lousy, and b). until SCREAM changed the game and reinvented the genre, 90s horror flicks were in pretty dire straits. And yet, one movie we always thought defied both relatively accurate claims is indeed WARLOCK: THE ARMAGEDDON, directed by Anthony Hickox (WAXWORK, WAXWORK II). This movie is f*cking weirdly wacky, highly-gory, comically-campy and, aside from a few misfires, is a damn good time from front to back. Truly, aside from some cringingly archaic FX work, if WARLOCK: THE ARMAGEDDON isn’t a F*cking Black Sheep, I don’t know what is!

Now let’s get back to that Marvelous conceit. The flick opens with a title card explaining that every 600-700 years, when the moon and sun perfectly align, the son of Satan is born. Ancient Druids summon five multi-colored runestones and harness their magic in order to prevent this birth from happening. You with us so far? Then, after a pretty disorienting opening 10 minutes, we’re treated to gnarly, show-stopping introduction of the titular male-witch (Julian Sands). As the perfect eclipse occurs, a women grows nine months pregnant in the matter of seconds, and soon Warlock, the son of Satan, is born as a grotesque pile of steaming alien-viscera. You know the little pooch from THE MEG? Yeah, well a tiny Pomeranian is gruesomely devoured by the revolting alien blob (quite possibly left over from the ALIEN send-up sequence in WAXWORK II: LOST IN TIME). The repulsive practical FX work here, as opposed to the overtly comic CG in later sequences, is really outstanding, and are probably the nastiest thing in all of the movie. Well, until the end!

Anyhow, when Warlock materializes into the blonde underwear model we all know, he sets out to collect all five runestones in order to meet Father Hell and introduce him to the world. Meanwhile, Druid warrior Will Travis (Steve Kahan), his son Kenny (Chris Young), pal Franks (R.G. Armstrong in his final role), and Kenny’s girlfriend Samantha (Paula Marshall) do all they can to protect the stones in their possession, while preventing Warlock from obtaining the others. Cue the mother*cking carnage!

One of the things I love about WARLOCK: THE ARMAGEDDON is how it becomes an episodic series of sick slash-and-grab one-off set-pieces. For instance, when f*cking Fabian shows up at a fashion-show to collect one stone, the model who possesses it won’t believe he’s a warlock. He proves it by grabbing her and hovering in the air up several stories above a NYC high-rise. She coughs up the stone and sayo-f*cking-nara…the chick is dropped hundreds of feet below and lands on the largest shard of glass you’ve ever seen, splattering grisly entrails all across the faces of agog spectators. Shite’s gorgeous!

Up next, old He-Man-Hair visits a freak-show funhouse, where he gets the run around from a lippy tour-guide. No biggie, Warlock responds by jamming a dwarf into an iron-maiden until a thick squirt of red goo oozes out. Insatiable, Locky runs the guide down in a mirror-maze, snags another stone, and consigns the f*cker in a horrifying hell-chamber for all eternity. And then for the third stone, reinforcing the cartoonish aesthetic and overt comic-book tableau, Warlock frequents an upscale museum. He collects the third stone by molding an uppity curator into a human Picasso sculpture. F*cker ends up looking like a drunk, mutated parrot with spina-bifida. What’s not to love!?

With unfinished biz, Warlock confronts and beats the ever loving piss out of Franks, gorily chopping both of his arms off with an axe. It’s no way for the great character actor R.G. Armstrong to go, and yet. Warlock! Then old Ish from KINGPIN seizes the fourth stone, leaving only the birthstone that activates all five runes when put together. This remains in the hands of Will, who unfortunately does not make it out alive. But he’s taught Travis and Samantha the ways of the tree-talking Druids, Lorax style, and they end up harnessing their powers to keep the final stone out of Warlock’s possession. I’ll admit the romantic angle of the movie and the back and forth over whether or not to move to San Francisco feels sappily perfunctory, and really adds little to the plot. I will say, as a lifelong fan of both THE GREAT OUTDOORS and PCU, it’s always good to see Chris Young onscreen, especially in a horror joint.

As for other sick standout scenes in the flick, Prince Valiant Hair severs the viscera right out of a poor chap on an elevator, showing only the gory aftermath of what transpired on the lift. Warlock also scalps a trashy hitchhiker with one fell-swoop, tossing her bald-bloody-pate on the side of the road. Need More? This foul bastard also eats a dude’s face off, after letting more blood than a hemophiliac during a voodoo attack. No joke! Oh, and who can forget the even more odious and vile exit of old Draco-head than that of his entrance? Yo, when Travis and Samantha decimate Warlock with their Druidic telekinesis, the flowing blonde mullet and the body its attached to is reduced to a bone-cracking, puss-bubbling, skin-melting puddle of antihuman rubble. Shite turns into a goddamn Bava film! I love the way Hickox brackets what the lighter horror elements with two salvos of vomit-inducing nastiness.

Look, for a $3 million sequel to a B-movie original, shot in just 38 days, WARLOCK: THE ARMAGEDDON is far better than it’s ever been given credit for. Just as Hickox’s previous work was, there’s a fast-moving entertainment level an overarching amusement rate that cannot be denied. Sure it’s silly, sure it’s cartoonishly campy, but so what, it’s also balanced out by vicious stints of violent grue. More, for a 90s horror sequel made in a time when the genre was all but moribund, yeah, you’re damn right, WARLOCK: THE ARMAGEDDON is defensible F*cking Black Sheep if ever there was one!

STREAM WARLOCK: THE ARMAGEDDON HERE

GET WARLOCK: THE ARMAGEDDON ON DVD HERE

Extra Tidbit: Frank LaLoggia (FEAR NO EVIL, LADY IN WHITE) was originally set to direct WARLOCK II.
Source: AITH

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