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Warlock Moon

Director:  Bill Herbert

US - 1975



When it comes to movies, there is nothing more enticing to American audiences than ritualistic human sacrifice (that is, next to The Lord of the Rings).  Amazingly, Warlock Moon takes a The scariest part of Warlock Moon:  The fashion.sure-fire plot device and somehow manages to drop the ball.  Not only do they drop the ball, but then kick it into the cranky neighbor’s yard.  You know, the one with the snarling pit bull with blood-red eyes that dare you to jump the back fence.  In simpler terms:  Warlock Moon sucks. 

I’ll try to relay the story to you, but there’s not much to it.  In fact, there’s not enough in this movie to actually warrant a review.  Being a servant of the people, however, I feel morally obligated to warn you of this cinematic catastrophe. 

Jenny and John are young lovers.  John is an aspiring newspaper reporter, and Jenny is an aspiring…I don’t know, wife to a newspaper reporter, I guess.  One day, while driving through the country looking for the perfect picnic spot, Jenny and John happen across a deserted health spa in the middle of nowhere.  Being young, adventurous and alive with pleasure, they decide to explore.  Inside the compound they meet a kind elderly woman, a kind elderly hunter, and two guys with axes who are neither kind nor elderly.  Oh, and there’s also a random wandering ghost that enjoys laughing maniacally whenever the mood takes her.

Over the course of a few days (which, despite the proposed 75 minute running time, feels like the actual length of Warlock Moon), Jenny learns that the spa was shut down due to a problem concerning cannibals with a penchant for ritualistic human sacrifice (which are, of course, the peskiest of cannibal types). 

Sure enough, Jenny soon discovers that the old woman, the axemen and –SURPRISE – John are, in fact, said cannibals.  Not only did they manage to lure Jenny into a satanic ritual, but they managed to do it in the most obtuse way possible (they rely heavily on a boatload of coincidences for their ingenious-yet retarded-plan to work).

Fortunately, Jenny manages to escape.  Later, she returns to the scene of the crime with the local po-dunk police, but lo and behold, all they find is a deserted spa.  Naturally, being hillbilly cops (Y’all ain’t from around here,”), they think that Jenny has been smoking a few too many left-handed cigarettes.  They search her car and, oddly enough, find a stash of grass.  They arrest Jenny and throw her in jail, where, of course, her cellmate is the old lady cannibal.  She cackles something to the effect of “I’m a wild ‘n’ crazy cannibal!” and brandishes a knife.  Jenny screams, freeze frame, the end.Pants!!  Now!!

In summary:  A turd.  And sadder still, it seemed the filmmakers had a couple good ideas.  A cavernous, deserted spa in the middle of nowhere provided a promising foundation.  I think there was an attempt to rely on subtle, creepier scares as opposed to excessive gore and shocking the senses.  The implied is usually scarier than what is actually shown, but it must be handled with precision.  A deliberately-paced, atmospehric horror film (i.e. Robert Wise’s The Haunting) can quickly turn boring and tedious (i.e. Warlock Moon).

On a happier note, the acting"I'm wild 'n' crazy"! wasn’t atrocious (which is kinda like having your tonsils removed for the sake of eating ice cream).  Although Danny (Joe Spano of Hill Street Blues) does get a little annoying at times, he is charismatic nonetheless.  Jennie (Laurie Walters of Eight is Enough fame) does well with what little she is given.

Trivial niceties aside, could Warlock Moon have been saved? Not a chance (outside of simply destroying the print to save face).  But there is, however, something to be learned:  Tea parties are never, ever scary.  And do you know what’s even less scary?  Multiple tea parties.  Warlock Moon features two lengthy tea parties, complete with snack cakes and small talk.  To be honest, I’m not big on parties in real life.  I sure as hell don’t want to watch a movie about one (or two, as the case may be).

It all boils down to padding out a film.  If you don’t have enough material to make a full-length feature, then make a short.  Or, in the case of Warlock Moon, make nothing at all.  



-- Copyright 2003, J. Bannerman



Not available.  Be thankful.




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Apparently, he really does have an axe to grind!

Thank you!!  Thank you!!  Good night!!