There is another world, but it is in this one.

Paul Eluard. Œuvres complètes, vol. 1, Gallimard, 1968.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

The devil's member: Warlock by Ray Garton (1989).

I recall Warlock fondly, having rented it on video in about 1995. The acting was confident and the effects were adequate for period and budget. And best of all, it was a genuinely arresting supernatural thriller.

Ray Garton's novelization is an outstanding example of the art, recalling skills shown back in the 1980s in tie-ins by Dennis Etchison and Alan Dean Foster.

This is not a bloodless book. Right away, in 1690s Puritan Massachusetts, we know our guide is Ray Garton and not Charles L. Grant:

....She'd set the table, but the plates and silverware were scattered on the floor where the warlock had thrown them. In their place lay Marian, sprawled face-down over the table, her clothing torn away, her smooth pale skin mottled with bruises. Her buttocks jutted upward, splashed with blood and . . . and something else . . . something milky . . .

The worst of it buckled Redferne's knees beneath him and pushed him to the very edge of unconsciousness. Marian's anus yawned open like a mouth, dribbling blood-streaked semen. She had been violated by something obscenely large, far too large to belong to an ordinary man.

The warlock has destroyed Puritan witch-smeller Giles Redferne's young wife. He is condemned to be burned alive on top of a crate filled with cats. But the devil sends a time-warping tornado to save the day, transporting warlock and Redferne three hundred years into the future.

In 1989 Los Angeles Redferne joins forces with Kassandra, a waitress/actress. Kassandra got in the warlock's way shortly after his arrival, and is now cursed to age about twenty years per day: a real motivation to unite with Redferne to stop their villain.

The warlock is not only equipped with Satan's member. He is also skilled in what used to be called The Black Arts. A boy tossing a football, a little girl at a petting zoo, and a woman pregnant with twins discover this the hard way.

The warlock, we discover, is working with a purpose: reassembling scattered and hidden pages of the ultimate evil book:

....Redferne stood, clearly shaken. "He's come for it. Blessings of heaven, 'tis the Grand Grimoire he's after."

"The Grand Grimwhat?"

"A spellbook. All witches keep grimoires. But one is indestructible. One is the Bible of black magic. The Grand Grimoire. Always, witches have lusted for it....

"Hidden within the Grand Grimoire is the name of God, Kassandra, the lost name of God."

"I don't wanna hear it, Redferne," she whispered as tears welled up in her eyes.

" 'Tis the name invoked during Creation. Witches charge that, should this name—this true name of God—be uttered back to front—"

"Please . . ."

"—should the name be uttered in reverse—"

"Please don't . . ."

"—then Creation will undo . . . 'twill reverse, Kassandra."

She faced him, crying. "It's gonna uncreate, huh? That what you're trying to tell me, here? The world's just gonna—"

"All worlds, Kassandra." He let that sink in. "All."

"Ooohh, son of a bitch," she groaned, scrubbing her face with her hands, "I especially didn't want to hear that last part. Do . . . do you believe that, Redferne?"

"I believe the book holds the name. And witches believe the name, spoken in reverse, will unravel life itself."

Warlock is a novel worth reading. I'm not a fan of Garton, but he gives us an outstanding supernatural chase thriller. The Mennonite scenes, my favorite from the film, are deftly and powerfully handled here.

16 May 2019

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