When a mysterious red ruby crosses her desk, Alex immediately sends it off for analysis. Soon thereafter people around her start to die and she comes under the influence of a djinn. He needs her to request three wishes and he’ll be free to rule the world. Can Alex stop this mystical, all-powerful monster before it’s too late? Find out in… Wishmaster.
How?! Alex is an antiques appraiser, so naturally when a dockworker swipes a jewel from the site of a gruesome crate-crushing-a-person accident she’s the first to see it. She takes one look at it and is like “uh, something is up with this jewel.” She sends it to a friend for analysis, who releases a gruesome djinn in the process. The monster kills him and proceeds to run rampant through the city granting wishes and twisting them to his own horrific devices. All while this is happening Alex is getting flashes of what this Wishmaster is doing. Ultimately the djinn needs to gain power by stealing souls via his wishes in order to power up the jewel. Then he needs Alex to get three wishes granted and voila he’ll be free and ready to rule the world and mold it to his own gruesome vision. Realizing what’s going on, Alex eventually arrives at the doorstep of a folklore professor who explains exactly what’s going on with the djinn. The djinn tracks down the professor and takes her place when Alex comes a-knockin’ again. Horrified, but somewhat prepared, Alex attempts to trick the Djinn, but has her wish turned against her and she’s trapped in the jewel, forcing her to use a second wish to get out. Scared that the djinn is going after her sister, Alex rushes to a party, which quickly turns horrific at the hands of the djinn. The djinn tries to force Alex to use her third wish to save her sister, but Alex stays calm and instead wishes that the person responsible for the crate-crushing-a-person accident wasn’t wasted at the time. This reverses time and retraps the djinn in the jewel. THE END (or is it? (ugh, unfortunately not)).
Why?! Who runs the world? Djinns. Who runs the world? Djinns. That’s all that stupid djinn wants. He wants the world to be full of horrors because that’s what he likes: immense suffering of humans as a result of their puny wishes. But Alex won’t have any of that. She just wants safety for her family and that means that djinn must be stopped.
Who?! A number of cameos here with Tony Todd and Kane Hodder. Robert Englund also has a more substantial role. Might be more even, as this is a horror film for horror fans. I’d also like to take a moment to meditate on the monster: the djinn. Fun to have something all powerful and evil and yet limited in some way. Creates fun as a trickster. They quickly muck it all up in the second though by making a whole bunch of new rules. Necessary because it’s a bit of a one trick pony. Once you figure out the trick in the first film you have to change the game.
What?! Mark another in the Coca-Cola column. Also funny product placement with Pacific Bell (makes sense with the setting of the film), only made funnier by the fact that in the goofs section of the imdb they note that while most phones in the film sport the Pacific Bell logo, the phone at her apartment has a BellSouth logo. Uh oh! What a goof!
Where?! This is Los Angeles through and through. I’m glad too. I think LA should be the location for more horror, but for some reason the classics are more intrigued by terror destroying the perceived safety of Midwestern suburbia… or the empty horror of the backwater South… or the Northeast and its tradition of witches and ghosts. But LA is a weeeeiiiirrrd place and I think they use it nicely in this film. B.
When?! This is the one drawback of LA. You can’t tell from the weather what time of year it is so there isn’t much pushing a filmmaker to take that extra step and establish an exact date. There might be one in here somewhere, but I didn’t notice it on first viewing so it’s an F… for now.
I really liked the look of this film. Some really great (and gross) effects for the most part and then some nice acting by Divoff to bring the Djinn to life (ruined in the second film). The only big issue for me was that they jump into a bunch of rules for how the djinn operates expressly so they could figure out a way to deliver the final “twist” for how Alex manages to trick the djinn and get out of the predicament. This creates a bunch of problems when inevitably you have the djinn more or less doing what he wants with everyone else in order to squeeze in your sweet, sweet practical effects death scenes for all the minor characters. And you can tell that they knew what they were doing. This was a film made by people steeped in horror lore. How? Because they were already including cameos by Kane Hodder and Tony Todd. They knew what they were up to and it worked out OK for the first film, but really hamstrung them for any possibility of having a decent franchise. Speaking of, the second Wishmaster is horrific. One of the worst. Everything falls apart so quickly because of how things were set up in the first film that you wonder why they even bothered to make another film (let alone more after that). And Divoff in turns cranks the Djinn up to such a degree that it seems like he’s in a comedy. Ugh. The problem is that I actually like watching horror films, and in particular horror franchises, so when one veers so quickly into unwatchable territory it’s truly dismaying. Patrick?
‘Ello everyone! We got wishes! We got a who’s who of horror icons! We’ve got djinns! Let’s go!
P’s View on the Preview – The horror genre for this cycle caused a lot of consternation. Mostly it is because as far as wide releases are concerned I think we’ve kind of worked through some of the best we have. But there was at least one 90s franchise we hadn’t touched yet. Wishmaster, which amusingly comes right on the heels of watching Kazaam. What were my expectations? The trailer showed what was up with this film, a whole lotta practical effects. The reviews said the issue with this: they forgot to write an actual script. I’m just going to be here counting wishes.
The Good – At times the practical effects were indeed quite fun. The people creating the film obviously had a lot of affection for that approach to horror and so do I, so even when a bit cheesy I appreciated that they were willing to create a film where multiple practical effect centered scenes were presented. And the subject, a djinn, is perfect in that regard. A wish can be fantastic, and an evil djinn who twists that wish in sadistic ways can create fantastical horror as a result. A large part of the film at its core is well done and a very good idea to boot. Best bit: The practical effects.
The Bad – But the film falls down at the lore which is somehow both non-existent and so oppressive as to tie one’s hands. The Djinn can grant a wish for the price of your soul? But then the woman who conjured him up gets three wishes? But after her third wish the Djinns rule the world? It all is a very silly means to a not-very-exciting end. And yeah, the acting and script are pretty bad. Any part with non-practical effects looks bad. I do have to give credit, where you would expect the final wish to be dumb, it actually works. Question though … if the goal is merely to grant three wishes to your master and then you get to rule the world, why would the Djinn choose to make any wishes bad? Doesn’t that just tip your hand that you are a terrifying monster? Whatever. Fatal flaw: End-to-end lore, and it isn’t even that good of lore. Should have saved that for the sequel, never go full-lore on the first film.
The BMT – I love watching horror franchises. Maybe someday I might even finish this one (there are two other straight-to-video sequels, but ain’t no one got time for that). But this one is really interesting in that the first has a somewhat botched fun idea and the sequel … well more on that in the friend section. It certainly represents something of a last hurrah for large scale practical effects driven horror. Something like Hostel or Saw maybe does some of that, both that could certainly be said for something like supernatural horror which must all be CGI at this point. Just fun stuff. Did it meet my expectations? Yeah, it really gave me that sweet sweet practical effects while also being amusingly bad in its own way.
Roast-radamus – A pretty fun Product Placement (What?) for Pacific Bell with multiple telephones sporting the logo in full throughout the film. An okay Setting as a Character (Where?) for Los Angeles, or at least California as evidenced by the license plates on the cars. I’m not going to give it anything for the twist since it was actually pretty good. Closest to Good I think, it is a pretty fun (if messy) horror film I think.
Sequel, Prequel, Remake – I would love to do something funny here, but this film really deserves a Remake. The first one is okay with the wishes and stuff, but I still think there is room to improve the lore. The Djinn are all powerful, so why can’t he destroy himself if he wants? But … just make that bit undesirable to the main character. At the beginning of the film the main character’s husband is killed when the Djinn is created. The Djinn is attempting to fulfil a condition, thirteen souls captured by wishes that take another’s life and the Djinn can open a portal and control the world. But, the one who freed the Djinn can bind it to the fire opal with one of three wishes. With 12 souls captured (and 12 gruesome deaths) the hero finds the Djinn, and the hero wishes for the Djinn to destroy himself. Fine, but then your love is dead forever, you could have him back if you so wish, but I’ll destroy myself if you want. Hesitating, she instead wishes for her love to live again. The Djinn creates a tree with the man’s soul bound to it, forever trapped in agony. She wishes for her love to be a living human, and he is, but with terminal cancer, with mere weeks to live. With one wish left she uses the same twist from the first film, I wish for a specific moment that allowed the Djinn’s fire opal to be discovered to have changed in the past. And voila! The events of the film are undone, but the fire opal lies in wait for another chance to fulfil the prophecy. Not much much different, but I think it cleans up the lore a bit and also allows for people to wish for anything. It is just the Djinn’s (tricky) logic that often tempts them into trying to outsmart him, and that often fails.
Bring a Friend Analysis – I do love when we can do the same franchise as part of a friend, and this time we got to do Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies. Everything about this movie is awful. It opens with them spitting in the face of the lore (if someone wishes to have never been born, and you grant that wish uh … why does the main character have a picture of that person in her apartment? Riddle me that!), the Djinn constantly just says like “I can’t grant that wish”, the movie establishes totally different lore (the Djinn must collect 1001 souls prior to taking over the world … he definitely didn’t do that the last time), and in the end they don’t even bother to have the One Weird Trick loophole, instead it seems like most of the mischief the Djinn got up to actually ended up happening? Combine that with the fart joke and Divoff’s weird unchanging facial expressions (which at times seemed like a joke? As if they were poking fun at themselves and the absurdity of the character’s monotone when acting as a human? Bizarre), and the film is awful. Amazingly people online seem to like 1 and 2 about the same, and love Divoff in the role. Divoff is solid in the first, but here I think the direction let’s him down and they leaned a bit too hard into the quipiness which also caused issues during some of the Leprechaun installments. Actually, two very similar series. I could definitely imagine a timeline in which there are seven or eight Wishmasters if it had started in 1989. C+. I think it is worth the watch if you watched the first one, but it is quite bad if you aren’t into the wink-wink comedy horror sequel idea.