Warlock (1989 film)

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American theatrical release poster
Directed by Steve Miner
Produced by Steve Miner
Written by David Twohy
Starring Julian Sands
Lori Singer
Richard E. Grant
Music by Jerry Goldsmith
Cinematography David Eggby
Edited by David Finfer
Distributed by Trimark Pictures
New World Pictures
Release dates
December 1, 1989 (USA)
Running time
103 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $9,054,451

Warlock is a 1989 American cult horror film produced and directed by Steve Miner and starring Julian Sands, Lori Singer, and Richard E. Grant. It was written by David Twohy. The soundtrack was by Jerry Goldsmith.


The Warlock (Sands) is taken captive in Boston, Massachusetts in 1691 by the witch-hunter Giles Redferne (Grant). He is sentenced to death for his activities, including the bewitching of Redferne's bride-to-be, but before the execution Satan appears and propels the Warlock forward in time to 20th century Los Angeles, California. Redferne follows through the portal.

The Warlock attempts to assemble The Grand Grimoire, a Satanic book that will reveal the "true" name of God. Redferne and The Warlock then embark on a cat-and-mouse chase with the Grand Grimoire, and Kassandra, a waitress who encounters Giles attempting to use a witch compass to track the Warlock. Explaining some basic rules of the Warlock, such as their weakness to purified salt, Kassandra follows Giles after seeing the compass work and knowing the warlock stole her bracelet putting an aging spell on her.

The Warlock assembles two thirds of the grimoire, and Giles is stunned to learn that the last portion is buried in his grave, buried off of church lands under the cursed sign of a witch. The Warlock appears and starts a ritual to assemble the Grimoire. After seeing the name of God appear on the book, the Warlock is about to call it out and unmake existence when Kassandra injects him with saline, and he bursts into flame. Redferne returns to his own time. In the epilogue, Kassandra is seen burying the Grimoire in the Great Salt Flats.



Cut scenes[edit]

The Channeler or Breaking Woman[edit]

In the original version of the channeling sequence, actress Mary Woronov ripped open her blouse to reveal the "Eyes of Satan" in place of her nipples. The Warlock freezes her and pushes her to the floor, making her body shatter. Then the Warlock stomps on her chest to retrieve the eyes. This shot was cut after test screenings resulted in laughter at the prosthetic breasts and disapproval over the violent nature of the channeler's death.

It is doubtful Julian Sands returned for the re-shoot and that could explain the change in Mary Woronov's hair from the beginning of the shot to the moment when she collapses on the table. The filmmakers also used a shot of the Warlock kneeling down over the channeler's broken body instead of a new shot of Sands. The film was far enough in production and a quick glimpse of the frozen body with the Warlock beside it was included in the trailer. There are videos on Internet that feature the scene, but only as a reconstruction based on the remains of the original footage.[1]

Rooster compass[edit]

One promotional shot showed the Warlock squatting down inside a circle with a rooster tied to the center. This was explained in the novelization as a compass that the Warlock uses to track down Redferne and Kassandra. The film omits any explanation as to how the Warlock found the two in the airport.


Although completed in 1988 and released to other countries the following year, Warlock fell into release limbo in the United States when New World Pictures suffered financial difficulties, and it was shelved for two years. The film was eventually picked up by Trimark Pictures and given a limited release beginning in January 1991.[2] The film turned into a modest success for Trimark, grossing $9,094,451 and becoming the company's biggest grosser until Eve's Bayou.[3]

Sequels and legacy[edit]

A sequel was made in 1993 and titled Warlock: The Armageddon, starring again Julian Sands. A direct-to-video third film called Warlock III: The End of Innocence came in 1999, this time with Bruce Payne in the title role.

Acclaim Entertainment released a video game based on the films for the Super NES and Sega Genesis in 1995. Bluewater Productions also began a Warlock comic book series in 2009.[4]

The film drew controversy after it was alleged to have inspired a crime. In 1995, Sandy Charles, a 14-year-old boy, murdered a 7-year-old child after luring him into a secluded area. In court, lawyers on Charles' behalf argued that he had become obsessed with the film Warlock and that the murder was based in part on the premise from the movie that drinking the boiled fat of a virgin can give one the ability to fly.[5] Although, Charles claimed he did not drink the boiled fat of his victim because he "just wanted to stay the way [he was]". Regardless, the case brought the issue of violence in movies to the forefront in Charles' native Canada and is reported to have influenced the county's decision to enable parents to use the V-chip to censor violence in cable television.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Warlock : The Channeler's Original Death Scene". YouTube. 2008-06-25. Retrieved 2014-02-09. 
  2. ^ "Company Credits for Warlock". imdb.com. Retrieved 2011-03-31. 
  3. ^ "Trimark Top 10 Movies". boxofficemojo.com. Retrieved 2011-03-31. 
  4. ^ "Warlock : Comics : Bluewater Productions". Bluewaterprod.com. Retrieved 2014-02-09. 
  5. ^ "Sandy Charles transferred back to Saskatoon facility". Global News. Retrieved 2015-05-30. 
  6. ^ "Gruesome Killing Stirs New Debate on Media". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2015-05-30. 

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