Oh man, so here’s the thing. I went into witness protection, which was great because I have this really fun handler named John Kruger. He’s great. But then some high up government people broke into my house and bopped me right on the head! Now I can’t remember a thing … my memory has been erased! Wait, is that why they call this movie Eraser? I honestly can’t remember. Do you remember what happened in Eraser?
Pop Quiz Hot Shot!
1) Lee Cullen (Vanessa Williams) is working with the FBI to take down Cyrez, a defense contractor. What weapon has Cyrez developed and what illegal thing are they doing with it?
2) John Kruger (Arnold Schwarzeneggar) is a U.S. Marshal for the Witness Security Protection Program (WITSEC). Where does Kruger stash Lee, and where are they to meet if something bad happens?
3) Welp, something bad happened! A bunch of witnesses are getting killed across the country. Why, and who is doing it?
4) Why do Lee and Kruger have to break back into Cyrez and how do they do it?
5) The final showdown is in what city, and how does the witness Johnny Casteleone help Kruger to take down the bad guys? What ultimately happens to the bad guys?
Bonus Question: Where does Lee end up after the final testimony in the treason trial against the Under Secretary of Defense?
“I shouldn’t have wasted time talking to you,” says the woman cat burglar, “I should have listened to my mama and never talked to strangers.” Clutch smiles to himself, great minds. “Well, lady,” he says, holding out his hand, “the name is Clutch. Clutch Guthrie. See? Now we’re not strangers.” The cat burglar smirks and takes his hand, “Katherine Lattimore, but I still think my mama would tell me to steer clear of you.” Suddenly they hear a soft cough and they turn to see the Wishmaster waiting impatiently. “If you two are done with your introductions I’d appreciate it if you grant me one wish: hand over the gold,” he says with a sneer. Kat and Clutch look at each other and nod, turning their handshake smoothly into a spinning flying double scissor kick. “Oh no! Not a spinning flying double scissor kick! The only thing that can stop my wishes!” screeches The Wishmaster.
Patrick looks at the last passage and feels like it doesn’t seem exactly right. Has he given The Wishmaster enough backstory for the reader to understand why a spinning flying double scissor kick would be the only logical thing to defeat his wish power? Being a professional writer who writes very professional passages like the one above, these are the types of questions that can take hours to answer. Everything must be tight. He reaches for his eraser but pauses. Does he have time? At this very moment that piece of shit hack Manfred Long is also writing his story. But when he looks at Manfred he’s still deep into his Quickening brought on by his use of the Obsidian Dongle. His page is also curiously blank. Patrick shrugs and grabs the eraser. Now what needs to be modified to get his point across? That’s right! We are doing the Arnold Schwarzenegger classic Eraser. We weren’t quite at the tail end of the Arnold heyday, but we were on the verge. This is part of the chain going through John Snyder. Let’s go!
Jamie swoops down on his hang glider towards the hack jack port. A cyborg flies in to intercept, but Kyle knocks him out of the way and winks his classic Kyle wink. Hack jacking his way like the jack master he is, Jamie enters Party Town, USA… the world where he and Kyle make the rules and are guardians of the universe. That’s right! We are pairing Eraser with Abraxas, Guardian of the Universe starring Jesse Ventura… but also featuring Jim Belushi, star of K-9. Pretty great. Let’s go!
Eraser (1996) – BMeTric: 30.2; Notability: 103
StreetCreditReport.com –BMeTric: top 21.2%; Notability: top 0.0%; Rotten Tomatoes: top 36.6%; Higher BMeT: Barb Wire, Kazaam, Striptease, The Island of Dr. Moreau, Bio-Dome, Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace, Ed, The Crow: City of Angels, The Stupids, Hellraiser: Bloodline, Mr. Wrong, Spy Hard, Poison Ivy II, Solo, Jingle All the Way, The Glimmer Man, Eddie, Adrenalin: Fear the Rush, D3: The Mighty Ducks, Maximum Risk, and 33 more; Lower RT: The Dentist, Ed, Big Bully, Adrenalin: Fear the Rush, Ripe, Bio-Dome, Kazaam, Faithful, Mr. Wrong, Spy Hard, Bulletproof, Eye for an Eye, Solo, Celtic Pride, House Arrest, Mrs. Winterbourne, Larger Than Life, Two If by Sea, The Glimmer Man, Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace, and 66 more; Notes: I’m pretty surprised this is even as low as a 6.1 on IMDb, I would have thought it would have been mid-6 for sure. That notability is gaudy.
RogerEbert.com – 3.0 stars – It helps to have a short attention span while watching “Eraser,” the new Arnold Schwarzenegger picture. … “Eraser” is more or less what you expect, two hours of mindless nonstop high-tech action, with preposterous situations, a body count in the dozens, and Arnold introducing a new trademark line of dialogue (it’s supposed to be “Trust me,” but I think “You’re luggage” will win on points). Thinking back over the film, I can only praise the director’s restraint in leaving out the canary.
(I’m liking the sound of that. A big dumb Arnold actioner that I’ve somehow ever seen? You know those are an endangered species unfortunately.)
(The trailer not explaining the magic gun while showing the magic bullet-time shots is hilarious. And once they basically bust out the Prodigy techno in the trailer is also incredible.)
Directors – Chuck Russell – (Known For: The Mask; A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors; The Scorpion King; The Blob; I Am Wrath; Junglee; BMT: Eraser; Bless the Child; Notes: His directorial efforts are few and far between these days, although he is tapped for three films at the moment the crappy looking Bruce Willis feature seems like the most likely to actually get made by him.)
Writers – Tony Puryear – (BMT: Eraser; Notes: An artist as well, he created the campaign poster for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign which is now hanging in the National Portrait Gallery.)
Walon Green – (Known For: WarGames; Dinosaur; The Wild Bunch; Sorcerer; The Border; The Brink’s Job; The Hi-Lo Country; Morituri; Crusoe; BMT: Solarbabies; RoboCop 2; Eraser; Notes: Wrote and produced a ton of Law & Order over the years. Was nominated for an oscar for The Wild Bunch, and won for his documentary The Hellstrom Chronicle)
Michael S. Chernuchin – (BMT: Eraser; Notes: Wrote and produced a bunch of the Law & Order series, including being nominated for 4 Emmys in connection with the series.)
Actors – Arnold Schwarzenegger – (Known For: Predator; Terminator 2: Judgment Day; Terminator: Dark Fate; Total Recall; The Terminator; True Lies; Conan the Barbarian; Commando; The Expendables; Last Action Hero; The Running Man; Escape Plan; Kindergarten Cop; Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines; The Expendables 2; Twins; The Long Goodbye; Iron Mask; The Last Stand; The Rundown; Future BMT: Terminator Genisys; End of Days; Collateral Damage; Junior; BMT: Batman & Robin; The Expendables 3; Red Sonja; Conan the Destroyer; Around the World in 80 Days; Eraser; Raw Deal; Sabotage; Jingle All the Way; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Actor in 1983 for Conan the Barbarian; in 1994 for Last Action Hero; in 2000 for End of Days; and in 2001 for The 6th Day; Nominee for Worst Supporting Actor in 1998 for Batman & Robin; in 2001 for The 6th Day; in 2005 for Around the World in 80 Days; in 2015 for The Expendables 3; and in 2021 for Tayna pechati drakona; and Nominee for Worst Screen Couple for The 6th Day in 2001; Notes: Y’all know Arnold. He’s slated to be in a new Twins film and a new Conan film which is exciting. Mr. Olympia from Austria and one of the biggest blockbuster actors ever.)
Vanessa Williams – (Known For: Hannah Montana: The Movie; Shaft; When Marnie Was There; Bad Hair; Soul Food; The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland; The Man from Earth: Holocene; Dance with Me; The Pick-up Artist; Hoodlum; Delhi Safari; He’s Way More Famous Than You; The Legend of Hallowaiian; My Brother; And Then Came Love; Future BMT: Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man; Johnson Family Vacation; Another You; Light It Up; BMT: Eraser; Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor; Notes: Was the first African American Miss America. Nominated for three Emmys for Ugly Betty, and famously married to NBA star (and sometimes actor) Rick Fox.)
James Caan – (Known For: The Godfather; The Godfather: Part II; Rollerball; Misery; Elf; Dogville; Dick Tracy; Get Smart; Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs; Queen Bees; El Dorado; Detachment; A Bridge Too Far; Thief; Bottle Rocket; 1941; Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2; The Tale of The Princess Kaguya; The Program; Henry’s Crime; Future BMT: Bulletproof; BMT: That’s My Boy; Eraser; Notes: Nominated for an Oscar for The Godfather. Apparently he lived in the Playboy mansion in the 70s … which is crazy.)
(Decent return, although I would have expected more domestically. But apparently this is kind of the last hurrah of the classic Arnold blockbusters, so maybe his power was already fading.)
Rotten Tomatoes – 38% (19/50): Eraser’s shoot-’em-up action might show off some cutting edge weaponry, but its rote story is embarrassingly obsolete.
(Hmmmm, so old news … but what is old is new again these days I imagine. As NBC used to say, if you haven’t seen it it’s new to you!)
Reviewer Highlight: The advanced weaponry and nifty scopes notwithstanding, most of the gunplay is pretty standard-issue, with most of the victims being anonymous targets present just to be picked off. – Todd McCarthy, Variety
(Is it weird that I kinda like this? It’s got that subtle green of a security camera, which gives me Enemy of the State vibes, which I like. It’s kind of artistic and I like the green glow behind the otherwise boring font. I don’t know. This is not nearly as bad as it should be. B)
Tagline(s) – He will erase your past to protect your future. (B+)
(A little strange to use the name of the title in the tagline, but it is effective. Nice cadence and pairing of past-future. I find the use of the word “your” mildly amusing… who? Little ol’ me? Anyway, it’s pretty good.)
Top 10: Goodfellas (1990), Heat (1995), The Mule (2018), The Hitman’s Bodyguard (2017), Legend (2015), The Incredibles (2004), Bad Boys (1995), Game Night (2018), Donnie Brasco (1997), A History of Violence (2005)
Future BMT: 52.0 Madea’s Witness Protection (2012), 42.0 Domestic Disturbance (2001), 38.3 See Spot Run (2001), 31.5 Bird on a Wire (1990), 28.8 15 Minutes (2001), 24.3 The Family (2013), 14.6 Smokin’ Aces (2006), 10.8 Hiding Out (1987)
BMT: Cobra (1986), Eraser (1996), Raw Deal (1986), Hot Pursuit (2015), Mercury Rising (1998), Did You Hear About the Morgans? (2009)
Matches: Smokin’ Aces (2006), The Family (2013), Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle (2003), Eraser (1996), Hit and Run (2012), My Blue Heaven (1990), Did You Hear About the Morgans? (2009), Route 666 (2001), Night of the Sicario (2021), F/X (1986), Killshot (2008), See Spot Run (2001), Hide in Plain Sight (1980), Nowhere Land (1998), The Secret Pact (1999)
(Kind of amusing that there really aren’t that many true matches that are “good”. The top 10 have some bangers though. And my god, Domestic Disturbance is something to look forward to.)
Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 15) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Arnold Schwarzenegger is No. 1 billed in Eraser and No. 1 billed in Red Sonja, which also stars Brigitte Nielsen (No. 2 billed) who is in Cobra (No. 2 billed) which also stars Sylvester Stallone (No. 1 billed) who is in The Expendables 3 (No. 1 billed) which also stars Jason Statham (No. 2 billed) who is in In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (No. 1 billed) which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 3 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => (1 + 1) + (2 + 2) + (1 + 1) + (2 + 1) + (3 + 1) = 15. If we were to watch The Glass House we can get the HoE Number down to 14.
Notes – The company name “Cyrez” was originally “Cyrex”, but the real-life company Cyrix complained. The movie had been shot, but all dialogue was dubbed and company logos were digitally altered during post-production. In one scene where Kruger and Lee review the files on the disc in Donohue’s office, some of the files have names beginning with CYX, indicating Cyrex.
Arnold Schwarzenegger really did free-fall for about sixty-five feet. He was harnessed into a piece of stunt technology called a descender rig. Directly afterwards, Chuck Russell told Schwarzenegger that there had been something wrong with the camera, and the scene had to be repeated. However, this was immediately revealed to be a prank, as to not upset Schwarzenegger any further.
Director Chuck Russell and producer Arnold Kopelson had a rocky relationship during the entire production. The only reason the film was able to go forward and ultimately be completed was that Arnold Schwarzenegger got along with each man separately, and was able to negotiate schedules and logistics at a point where the two men refused to speak to each other.
Cinematographer Adam Greenberg was personally chosen for the job by Arnold Schwarzenegger, who had worked with him on the first two Terminator movies. Schwarzenegger assured the production that if they wanted an experienced, professional cameraman who could capture the action on the film’s hectic schedule that Greenberg was the man for the job.
Arnold Schwarzenegger premiered the film at the Olympic Village in Atlanta, Georgia, during the 1996 Summer Games. The Goo Goo Dolls performed a live concert before the film was shown.
Frank Darabont and William Wisher were brought in mid production to revise the screenplay. Wisher co-wrote The Terminator & Terminator 2 Judgement Day.
The movie was mostly filmed on hand-held cameras, to make the audience feel closer to the action. Adam Greenberg sometimes used up to seven cameras at one time.
John Milius did multiple re-writes as a favor to Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Vanessa Williams performed the song “Where Do We Go From Here”, which is heard during the end credits.
At the premiere, Vanessa Williams walked the red carpet puffing one of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s signature cigars.
The movie has a sequel in the form of a video game, an FMV rail shooter with some adventure elements called Eraser – Turnabout (1996).
Two walk-on parts went for $4,500 each at a Planet Hollywood auction in 1995.
A novelization of the film by Robert Tine was published by Signet on August 29, 1996, the 5 year anniversary of Judgement Day from Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) the day that SKYnet took over the earth.
Awards – Nominee for the Oscar for Best Effects, Sound Effects Editing (Alan Robert Murray, Bub Asman, 1997)
Dr. Sarah Taylor is a psychologist extraordinaire. When a new mystery man comes into her life at the same time that she becomes the victim of a mystery tormentor’s psychotic games, she starts to suspect they may be one and the same. Can she stop her tormentor (or does she even want to?) before it’s too late? Find out in… Never Talk to Strangers.
How?! Dr. Sarah Taylor specializes in Multiple Personality Disorder (but I’m sure that’ll have no bearing on the plot). She explains how it’s characterized by bouts of amnesia and I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that she also seems to be forgetting a lot… … … Anyway, she’s still reeling from a broken engagement which leaves no room for a relationship with her friendly neighbor or even getting back in touch with her estranged father (hmmmm, isn’t childhood trauma also a sign of MPD? I’m sure that’s not relevant). One day she meets a mysterious sexy guy, Tony, at the grocery store who is mysteriously sexy. They begin a steamy relationship, but something seems off. Not only is he a little volatile, but shortly after starting the relationship terrible things begin to happen to Sarah. First she is sent a bunch of rotting trash as a gift (ok fine) and then her cat is killed and sent to her in a box (well that escalated). At that point she decides to hire a private detective to figure out what his deal is (besides being totally steamy and hot). The detective follows Tony around New York where he reports that it appears that he has another family. Deciding to confront him she gets into his apartment when he’s away and discovers that he has a dossier on her (what a creep!). When she heads back to her apartment she ends up nearly getting killed when a rickety heater falls into the tub she was in. At that point when Tony shows up at her apartment she fears for her life, but he tells her that it’s all twisted. He was hired to investigate her in the disappearance of her former fiance. That in fact it was her all along (WHAT A TWIST!). She has MPD (who could have seen that coming?) due to her childhood trauma inflicted by her pedophile father. Just then her father shows up and Sarah goes into her MPD mode and totally kills both Tony and her father. She then gets away with it because she has MPD and does even remember. THE END.
Why?! Huh, I guess I didn’t think of this at the time. Why… why… WHY??? I mean Tony has a purpose. He was hired by Sarah’s former fiance’s family in order to determine whether she was responsible for his disappearance. Sarah… she just forgets stuff. So I guess she mostly want to live a normal life. Her alter ego is filled with murderous rage. Simple as that.
Who?! It’s hard to say that Dennis Miller is anything but an actor. Claiming he’s like a comic-turned-actor would cover a very large portion of comic actors. BUT… there was this moment in the mid-2000s where Dennis Miller wasn’t just trying to make comedies, he was showing up in numerous thrillers between 1994-1997. Look at this lineup: Disclosure, The Net, Never Talk to Strangers, and Murder at 1600. Wild.
What?! The only thing that really stands out to me is how prominently Dennis Miller displays the bottle of Stoli that represent clue #2 of a million that De Mornay has Multiple Personality Disorder and is in fact the killer. Besides that there is a startling number of autographed photos for sale from this film that no one remembers… some costing over $100!
Where?! In my secret lair where I have all my BMT research there would be a large map hanging with little pins in it for all places that are confirmed settings in BMT films. There would be one little lonesome pin sticking out of Syracuse, NY. That’s Never Talk to Strangers. We see the location listed on Dr. Taylor’s business card. Why Syracuse, NY? No idea. B+.
When?! Secret Holiday Film Alert. From the jump we get Xmas light galore and De Mornay hesitant to invite her abusive father to Christmas dinner (no matter how much of a sad sack he’s become). Interestingly, even by the end of the film it still hasn’t actually reached Christmas Day. So she apparently met, dated, slept with, hired a private detective to follow, and killed Banderas all between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Busy lady. A.
I LOVED THIS MOVIE (in a very BMT way). It kinda has everything we’re looking for. It’s a “very serious” movie made by “very serious” people about “very serious” things, but clearly the studio didn’t like where things were heading with it and turned what was likely a three hour erotic melodrama into an 86 minute fiasco. I harp on the length only because you start the movie and within 10 minutes not only does De Mornay explain what Multiple Personality Disorder is and its association with bouts of amnesia, but then we are treated to her very noticeably forgetting things about her own life… almost as if she herself has amnesia, bum bum bum. It’s impossible for someone to watch this movie and not immediately conclude that De Mornay is the murderer herself. That is unless maybe they were distracted by the warp speed editing that chops everything to pieces. It’s just the best. Add in some truly… uh… interesting sex scenes with Banderas and it really is an unexpected treat. This is basically what I want out of my erotic thrillers. Some erotic thrills (of course) combined with the inevitable need for a twist resulting in some real dumb stuff to laugh at. As for Cover Me, I was surprised to find a competently made thriller within this Skinemax schlock. Color me schlocked (thank you). If you took out the excessive number of sex scenes (leave the library sex scene in, please… what can I say, I’m a fan of libraries) you’d almost think it was a normal film with subpar actors. Oh, I guess minus the sexist undertones inherent to the genre, of course. Patrick?
‘Ello everyone! We got murderers! We got Multiple Personality Disorders! We got the beautiful skyline of Toront… er, (checks notes) Syracuse, NY?! Let’s go!
P’s View on the Preview – It is a rare thing that I roll up to a film basically knowing nothing about it. I was even skeptical that it was a true erotic thriller … because surely I would have known about it in that case, surely it must be just a regular old Ashley-Judd-esque thriller. But nope, it is, indeed, a true erotic thriller. We might now actually be done with them as far as theatrical releases. What were my expectations? To be bored. Why else would this film be so thoroughly panned and so thoroughly forgotten?
The Good – The movie looks great, but feels like a low-key ABC detective/psychologist procedural at times (if you cut out the nudity). I don’t know what it is, but everything feels so extremely bizarre that it could only have existed on television at 10PM on Fridays on ABC. Honestly, that’s a good thing. I like those types of shows, and it ended up being a nice relaxing watch (between sex scenes). Banderas and De Mornay both were great as well I thought. The film had a lot going for it under the hood. Best Bit: De Mornay in the end.
The Bad – The film is chopped to pieces and they telegraph the twist ending so early that the entire film deflates in front of you. All of the good work Banderas puts in to seems like a sleazy creep is all for nought because one could not possibly think he’s the murderer … because De Morney is obviously the murderer. The whole thing runs off kilter because the twist is so obvious. Watch the trailer … they are obviously setting it up for Banderas being the prime suspect. Look at the poster! But then watch the movie and realize that for not one single moment do you think he’s the murderer … because De Mornay is. They’ve already told you this. Baffling. But entertainingly so. It is like watching a Hannibal Lecter film where he’s the main character, but he’s like “My god, who could be eating all of these people?! Maybe this creep over here.” And then at the end they just go “It was Lecter all along!” and you, dumbstruck, stare at the screen thinking “wait … was I not supposed to think that the entire time?” Fatal flaw: I mean … the non-twist. I can’t stop thinking about it!
The BMT – This might be the best worst twist in film history? There are crazy bad twists (like in The Call) that ruin films because, for whatever reason, something producers feel the need for some big “thing” to happen at the end of the film. But this is definitely intended as a twist, but is such a not-twist that it makes you wonder if you are the stupid one for watching the movie with the obvious twist in mind. For real … did I watch the movie wrong? Did it meet my expectations? Usually BMT films merely do meet my expectations. This so far exceeded them that it is blowing my mind. I don’t get it. I still don’t get it. I will never get it. Be right back, I need to watch Never Talk to Strangers again.
Roast-radamus – Maybe the best Product Placement (What?) since (checks notes) Certs in Terminal Velocity, with the main character nervously applying Chapstick throughout the film. Also a truly incredible Setting as a Character (Where?) for Syracuse, NY for whatever reason (although it is clearly filmed in Toronto). And simultaneously the best and Worst Twist (How?) for the “reveal” that Sarah was the baddie all along (wait … were we supposed to not know that from the jump?). And incredibly BMT in the end, against all odds.
Sequel, Prequel, Remake – The most interesting idea is probably a television Remake. Much like Hannibal you frame it as Sarah is a criminal psychologist who specializes in Multiple Personality Disorder. But what she doesn’t realize is that she herself has MPD, and that there are three different Sarahs. There is the diligent psychologist trying to deduce the trauma and diagnose the disorders for the criminally insane. There is a protector, who herself applies pressure to get information (and is Sarah’s unknown source of investigative information) and protects Sarah from those who mean her harm. And there is a third which is a homemaker with a family, oblivious to the other two. The reveal of the third personality occurs at the end of the first season. At the end of the second season the protector fakes the third personality’s death to get her husband off of their trail. And in the series finale, it all comes crashing down as the husband (trying to determine who murdered his wife) finds out it was his wife all along! Same ending to the sequel in the quiz, slow zoom out from the asylum where Sarah is getting treatment after her diagnosis is revealed. Never Talk to Strangers would still be the name, although it makes less sense given the description. A little bit of a stretch, but you’d have to say that the “strangers” are the other personalities hidden within or something.
Bring a Friend Analysis – Oh boy. As a friend this time we brought along a genuine Playboy feature film! Cover Me seems to be the first in a series of films made by Playboy in the mid-90s. We chose it mostly because there is, somehow, an FMV adventure game called Blue Heat which was produced concurrently to the film itself (which is insane). But I’ll talk about the game in a second (oh yeah, we played it). The movie is … almost competent? It is pretty wild. If I were to describe the quality it would be straight-to-syndication pilot episode which was ultimately passed on (e.g. K-9000). If not for the need to stop every ten or so minutes for a softcore sex scene the film itself would be okay, although it is certainly offensive from a cross-dressing / transgender perspective 25 years later. Maybe the most bizarre choice is to have the main character (who you mostly see nude for photo shoots and undercover in a strip club) in a monogamous relationship with another detective … it certainly seemed to tie their hands a bit as they danced around the fact that we saw four sex scenes between those two characters. Also crazy that it stars Paul Sorvino, Cerbin Bernsen, and Elliot Gould. The 90s were certainly a wild time, it must have cost a mint for the cast alone (relatively speaking). B+. I like the concept of the film more than actually watching it. It is saved by the (also amazingly competent) video game tie-in, otherwise there is little reason to watch it. Watching it back-to-back with playing the game though is a trip and tells you everything you need to know about the 90s.
You Just Got Schooled – Oh yeah, you didn’t think I was going to not review the game itself, Blue Heat: The Case of the Cover Girl Murders. Firstly, finding and running this game is hilarious. It is only kind of available as an iso rip from the original (4!) CDs, and then it only runs on Windows 3 or (early versions of) 95. I got a Windows 95 emulation up and running. A few tips, make sure you go with an early version of the Pentium (I used Pentium 75), I tried it with a later MMX version and it seemed to cause the videos to stutter. Also you need a graphics card that supports 256 colors, otherwise it will just throw an error during install (I went with Trident TGUI9440). Overall surprisingly painless if you follow this 1997 tutorial for PCem, although you do have to somewhat trust a few downloads (I don’t think I have a weird computer virus …). The actual game? Shockingly long and shockingly competent. It is Full Motion Video and I think made with HyperCard (which is what Myst was made in), and is a very weird game, and not just because of the nudity. It is a long investigation which is totally different from the movie, with very little in the way of knowing what is going on and why. The dialogue system can cut you off if you do something wrong, and they overwhelm the player with a huge number of “pieces of evidence”. The game is both an incredible example of how to make an open-ended criminal investigation adventure game and an unmitigated disaster … wait, that’s kind of like Police Quest! What a revelation. A+ tie-in, but as a game it is more like a straight C, surprisingly good, but still not good.
Oh man, so there I was losing time, finding people killed, the usual. But then I thought “huh … do I have multiple personality disorder?” … Naw. But I do indeed not remember anything. Do you remember what happened in Never Talk to Strangers?
Pop Quiz Hot Shot!
1) Sarah Taylor is a psychologist studying criminal Max to determine if he is fit for trial. What is Max accused of, and what is her initial diagnosis?
2) Later on she meets Tony Ramerez. Where does she meet him, where does he claim he comes from, and why does he claim he’s talking to her?
3) Her family seems to be a bit of a mess as well. Her father Henry shows up, but is unwelcome. What does he do for a living? And her mother was killed when she was a child, how does she say?
4) Throughout the film Sarah receives several disturbing gifts and notes. Name them. And who are they from?
5) From there we start to see flashbacks to an event in her past. What event?
Bonus Question: Ultimately how does the murderous Sarah get caught?
As Clutch Guthrie shoots through the exhaust pipe and into Fort Knox he can’t help but think that this is pretty rad, even for him. The pipe soon turns into a luge and he is slipping and sliding his way to a gold medal when he tumbles out and into a room full of gold. But, wait… he’s not alone. In the middle of the vault is a small man dressed in a robe. “What thuuuuu…” he says and the man turns around, startled by his presence. But it isn’t a man at all. It’s a smoking hot woman! “Hey lady, I don’t know what you are thinking, but I need this gold to free the Vice President of the United States. First in line for succession. Ever heard of him?” Clutch says, grabbing for a bar of gold. “Well not all that glitters is gold and not all that’s gold is yours, bub,” she says, “And besides, I need it for something far more important: to save the whole goddamn world.” Clutch squints and asks her to explain. A mastermind who goes by the moniker Wishmaster has created a doomsday device. It’s powered by gold and he’s coming this way to get all the fuel he needs to (bum bum bum) melt the polar ice caps. “So you see, back off, bub.” Clutch shakes his head at the tall tale, “ I knew I should have listened to my mama and never talked to strangers.” But just at that moment The Wishmaster busts into the room, alarms blaring.
Patrick looks up again at that piece of shit hack Manfred Long. At this point he had entered a full blown quickening due to the power of the Dongle he possesses. Yet the page in front of him remains blank. That’s right! We are going deep in on the 90’s genre de jour erotic thriller and watching Never Talk to Strangers, the Banderas-De Mornay joint that everyone totally remembers for sure. Let’s go!
Jamie suddenly turns to Kyle. “I have an idea. Manfred is using the Dongle as a Wishmaster… and I think we might be able to piggyback on the power and make it our wishmaster, too. I just need one thing,” Kyle nods for him to continue, “Cover me.” That’s right! We are definitely doing a Playboy feature film (the inaugural one, in fact), but only because it had a video game adaptation and that’s fun… for no other reason. Let’s go!
Never Talk to Strangers (1995) – BMeTric: 39.0; Notability: 20
StreetCreditReport.com –BMeTric: top 10.4%; Notability: top 26.4%; Rotten Tomatoes: top 11.5%; Higher BMeT: Showgirls, Vampire in Brooklyn, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, Fair Game, Congo, Jury Duty, Batman Forever, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie, Theodore Rex, Tank Girl, The Babysitter, Under Siege 2: Dark Territory, Judge Dredd, Nine Months, A Kid in King Arthur’s Court, The Scarlet Letter, Operation Dumbo Drop, Jade, Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh, Man of the House, and 6 more; Higher Notability: Batman Forever, Congo, Judge Dredd, Cutthroat Island, Under Siege 2: Dark Territory, Virtuosity, Showgirls, Four Rooms, Stuart Saves His Family, Tank Girl, Panther, Jade, Money Train, Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead, Assassins, Jefferson in Paris, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie, Hackers, Canadian Bacon, Just Cause, and 46 more; Lower RT: The Big Green, Senior Trip, Delta of Venus, Jury Duty, Theodore Rex, Top Dog, The Walking Dead, Born to Be Wild, A Kid in King Arthur’s Court, The Hunted, It Takes Two, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, The Pebble and the Penguin, Bushwhacked, Dracula: Dead and Loving It, Vampire in Brooklyn, Fair Game, Canadian Bacon, The Scarlet Letter, Jade, and 6 more; Notes: Low 5.0s on IMDb is really rather low, especially for a film I’ve basically never heard of. Everything else about the credit checks out, mostly middling, although a surprisingly low Rotten Tomatoes score.
Leonard Maltin – 1.5 stars – Criminal psychologist falls for a charming, mysterious stranger, while at the same time unexplained, terrifying incidents begin occurring. Standard-issue thriller would be more at home on television. De Mornay also coexecutive-produced.
(Interesting call on the television note. I’ve felt that way about a few films recently. That they feel more like a television movie from the late-90s or a failed pilot than a theatrical release. Very interesting.)
(I’ll say this: I’ve watched this film already. Now, watch that trailer and realize that for the most part I never once in a million years thought Tony was the “bad guy” in the film. Not once. The trailer plays it up like “ooooooo, what a mystery, this mysterious guy!” … Yeah, it isn’t really. The film is really rather straightforward. That trailer makes it look a lot more complex than it actually is.)
Directors – Peter Hall – (Known For: A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Three Into Two Won’t Go; Perfect Friday; The Homecoming; Work Is a 4-Letter Word; Akenfield; BMT: Never Talk to Strangers; Notes: A big play director (and that’s why he was an odd choice for this film) in England. Got a special Laurence Olivier Theatre Award in 1999 for his general contribution to theater. Is the father of Rebecca Hall.)
Writers – Lewis A. Green – (BMT: Never Talk to Strangers; Notes: I am fascinated by screenwriting in general. To put this in perspective: He’s written 24 films, sold over a dozen, but only has four writing credits in general. I assume that is not abnormal, one of six screenplays actually getting through production to a credit on IMDb.)
Jordan Rush – (Known For: Club Fed; BMT: Never Talk to Strangers; Notes: Wrote an episode of Coach, and otherwise was a founder of TuneIn Entertainment Inc.)
Actors – Rebecca De Mornay – (Known For: Wedding Crashers; Flipped; Risky Business; Identity; American Reunion; Backdraft; The Hand That Rocks the Cradle; Lords of Dogtown; Runaway Train; I Am Wrath; Mother’s Day; One from the Heart; And God Created Woman; Testament; Thick as Thieves; The Trip to Bountiful; Apartment 1303 3D; Dealers; Music Within; Beauty and the Beast; Future BMT: The Three Musketeers; Raise Your Voice; Guilty as Sin; The Slugger’s Wife; Feds; BMT: Never Talk to Strangers; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Actress for And God Created Woman in 1989; Notes: Been in a few television shows more recently like John from Cincinnati and Jessica Jones. Her father was a talk show host.)
Antonio Banderas – (Known For: Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles; Frida; Desperado; Shrek 2; The Mask of Zorro; Ruby Sparks; The Skin I Live In; Philadelphia; Spy Kids; Once Upon a Time in Mexico; Official Competition; Shrek the Third; Pain and Glory; Four Rooms; Knight of Cups; The Laundromat; Shrek Forever After; Puss in Boots; Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!; Security; Future BMT: Original Sin; Life Itself; The Legend of Zorro; Machete Kills; Assassins; Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World; Play It to the Bone; BMT: The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard; Dolittle; The Expendables 3; The 13th Warrior; Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever; Never Talk to Strangers; Notes: Nominated for an Oscar for Dolor y gloria. Born and raised in Spain, he worked there in the 80s, and then made the jump to Hollywood nearly 30 years ago in 1992.)
Dennis Miller – (Known For: The Net; Disclosure; The Campaign; Thank You for Smoking; Future BMT: Joe Dirt; What Happens in Vegas; Murder at 1600; Bordello of Blood; Madhouse; BMT: Never Talk to Strangers; Notes: Won a bunch of Emmys for his 90s talk show Dennis Miller Live. Was the Weekend Update anchor on SNL as well in the late-80s to around ‘91. Notably conservative.)
Budget/Gross – $6.4 million / Domestic: $6,858,261 (Worldwide: $6,858,261)
(Ah too bad. The stories around the film are interesting, with De Mornay loving the script and really trying hard to get it made the right way. It is rather too bad it couldn’t have been more successful in the end.)
Rotten Tomatoes – 15% (3/20): Never Talk to Strangers — and never make the mistake of believing this silly stalker mystery is the best available viewing option.
(Zing. The quip in the Rotten Tomatoes consensus is rarer than you would think. You would think they would 100% be jokes all the time, but they usually play them straight I feel like.)
Reviewer Highlight: An adequate psychological thriller on a topical theme — Repressed Memory Syndrome — but with little special quality, few frills or thrills, and a relaxed, almost languid exposition. – Wally Hammond, Time Out
(This feels ahead of its time in a bad way. Reminds me of the posters for a bunch of 2000’s thrillers. Font is bad, framing is meh, but I guess it gets the picture across: come see these two beautiful people make out and also maybe deliver some thrills and chills. C-)
Tagline(s) – In A World Where Love Isn’t Always Safe, Trust Can Be Deadly. (F)
(These are definitely words… and a lot of them at that. Love isn’t always safe… love isn’t always safe? I don’t understand this at all. Usually at least a tagline doesn’t confuse you. This actually makes it harder to understand what the film is about. Terrible.)
Top 10: Spider-Man (2002), Joker (2019), Deadpool (2016), Scream (1996), Death Proof (2007), The Green Mile (1999), Split (2016), Predator (1987), The Lovely Bones (2009), Halloween (2018)
Future BMT: 83.5 Prom Night (2008), 74.2 Black Christmas (2019), 71.1 Supergirl (1984), 70.3 Halloween II (2009), 68.3 Captivity (2007), 62.9 Valentine (2001), 61.4 Obsessed (2009), 60.9 When a Stranger Calls (2006), 57.8 The Return (2006), 56.7 They (2002)
BMT: The Bodyguard (1992), Vanilla Sky (2001), The Boy Next Door (2015), Halloween II (1981), This Means War (2012), Countdown (2019), Queen of the Damned (2002), The Snowman (2017), Sleeping with the Enemy (1991), The Roommate (2011), Cobra (1986), Jason X (2001), Keeping Up with the Joneses (2016), Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (1990), Fifty Shades of Black (2016), Perfect Stranger (2007), Swimfan (2002), I Know Who Killed Me (2007), Chernobyl Diaries (2012), Justice (2011), Vampire in Brooklyn (1995), Turbulence (1997), Never Talk to Strangers (1995)
Matches: Death Proof (2007), The Bodyguard (1992), Body Double (1984), Ingrid Goes West (2017), Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994), Blades of Glory (2007), Valentine (2001), Black Christmas (2019), Death Screams (1982), Go with Me (2015), Swimfan (2002), He Knows You’re Alone (1980), The Seduction (1982), Amusement (2008), Slumber Party Massacre III (1990), Deadly Switch (2019), Fear City (1984), The Stalker (2020), Lady Beware (1987), Blood Harvest (1987), Never Talk to Strangers (1995), After Midnight (1989), Ratter (2015), Cam2Cam (2014), The Cry of the Owl (2009), Kiss Daddy Goodnight (1987), Cherish (2002), Toughguy (1995), The Killing Floor (2007), Babysitter Massacre (2013), Vicious (2016), Striking Poses (1999), From the Shadows (2009), House Swap (2010), Let’s Not Meet in the Woods (2020), Quiet Kill (2004), Shiner (2004), Stalked (2015), Natural Prey (2013)
(Lots of bad one in the 00s as usual. We’ve seen a lot of these, and they mostly seem genuine. These do, in fact, have stalkers for the most part.)
Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 13) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Antonio Banderas is No. 2 billed in Never Talk to Strangers and No. 4 billed in The Expendables 3, which also stars Jason Statham (No. 2 billed) who is in In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (No. 1 billed) which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 3 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => (2 + 4) + (2 + 1) + (3 + 1) = 13. If we were to watch Assassins, and The Glass House we can get the HoE Number down to 12.
Notes – Raoul Ruiz was originally slated to direct this film.
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.
Oh man, so hear this, I found this jewel and released a djinn. But then I accidentally wished that I got bopped on the head, and voila I sustained a massive concussion and now can’t remember a thing. Do you remember what happened in Wishmaster?
Pop Quiz Hot Shot!
1) The beginning of the film shows the origin of the fire opal. Where did it come from and why was it made?
2) After the death of her friend, Alex is moping about, and her sister is concerned. But Alex insists it is nothing like last time. What happened in Alex’s childhood that still haunts her?
3) We learn a little bit more about the collector who brought the statue which contained the Djinn’s gemstone to California. Why did he want the statue?
4) What final trick does Alex pull to defeat the Djinn using her third wish?
5) Name as many of the other wishes the Djinn grants throughout the film (by my count there are 14 besides the final wish) and what do they get instead?
Bonus Question: How long do Josh and Alex stay together after the film ends?
Clutch Guthrie checks his chute and looks down on the target area. “You sure you’re OK with a night jump?” The pilot screams over the sound of the engine. Clutch squints and smiles smugly, “I invented the night jump. Besides, how else do you think we can get into Fort Knox to steal the gold for the Vice President’s ransom?” The pilot nods, but then grabs him by the arm. “Hold on, Clutch,” He listens closely to his headset and pales, “It’s not just the Vice President, Clutch. Your ex-wife was part of a group taking a tour of the VP’s residence.” Clutch punches the wall and pulls down his goggles. “McGuire just made this personal,” and with that he jumps. He floats majestically like a bird, soaring towards the only area of Fort Knox that isn’t protected by laser beams: the rooftop exhaust port. One square foot in area and the President knew that there was only one man for the job: Clutch Guthrie. What Clutch didn’t tell him was that he knew the man who had taken the VP hostage. They knew him as McGuire. He knew him as McGuire Guthrie. His twin brother.
Patrick leans back from his typewriter and looks at what is shaping up to be a pretty damn thrilling novel. When he looks over at the piece of shit hack Manfred Long he finds the man sweating profusely in front of a blank page. “You OK Manfred?” he asks and Manfred’s head snaps up. “Shut up, I’m working!” He cries shrilly and takes to stroking the Obsidian Dongle. Suddenly his face lights up. “I wish…” he starts softly but then emboldened he yells, “I want to write the raddest story of them all! Make it so wishmaster!” He points the Dongle at his chest. That’s right we are taking on a bit of a cult classic of horror in Wishmaster. Poorly reviewed, but made by a special effects artist turned occasional director, you better believe we’ll get a visual feast. It’s just all the other stuff that is more questionable. Let’s go!
Jamie and the gang duck and bob and weave at the airborne cyborgs. “This isn’t so crackerjack after all,” Kyle says and Jamie shakes his head. At least Patrick seems to be faring better. When he sees Manfred use the Dongle he sighs. “If only we had a wishmaster, too.” He perks up. Wishmaster… too. That gives him an idea. That’s right! We are pairing that with Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies. You have to appreciate the horror franchises that jump straight to video. Let’s go!
Wishmaster (1997) – BMeTric: 34.7; Notability: 38
StreetCreditReport.com –BMeTric: top 14.0%; Notability: top 16.4%; Rotten Tomatoes: top 22.2%; Higher BMeT: Batman & Robin, Speed 2: Cruise Control, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, Home Alone 3, Anaconda, Steel, Mr. Magoo, Double Team, Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie, Spawn, Flubber, An American Werewolf in Paris, Jungle 2 Jungle, Fire Down Below, Gone Fishin’, Turbulence, McHale’s Navy, Plump Fiction, Kull the Conqueror, An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn, and 15 more; Higher Notability: Batman & Robin, The Saint, Speed 2: Cruise Control, Dante’s Peak, Flubber, The Jackal, The Postman, Spawn, The Man Who Knew Too Little, Fathers’ Day, Red Corner, Meet Wally Sparks, Kiss the Girls, An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn, Event Horizon, The Devil’s Own, Fire Down Below, Steel, Vegas Vacation, Warriors of Virtue, and 21 more; Lower RT: Plump Fiction, Shadow Conspiracy, The Blackout, Fall, The Peacekeeper, McHale’s Navy, Gone Fishin’, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, Speed 2: Cruise Control, ‘Til There Was You, Mr. Magoo, An American Werewolf in Paris, An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn, The Pest, Dangerous Ground, The Postman, Keys to Tulsa, Double Team, 8 Heads in a Duffel Bag, How to Be a Player, and 32 more; Notes: 90s Horror is always interesting. This seems like a cult film, usually bad horror films are absolutely dunked on by horror fans online, but high 5s on IMDb is actually not at all bad for a horror film. We’ve only watched six of the top ten BMeT films from 1997 which is unimpressive.
Leonard Maltin – 1.5 stars – An evil djinn (genie to you) is freed from captivity in a gem and sets out to grant (backfiring) wishes while seeking Lauren, because granting her wishes will enable him to destroy the world … or something. The mythology is too complex, the story too thin, and the plentiful gore mostly gratuitous. Followed by three direct-to-video sequels.
(Well we are watching one of those sequels. I do love overly complex lore. I think a horror film immediately jumping into the lore is just a funny idea. Usually, they make one good film without any lore, and then the sequels ruin it with too much lore. Seems like they skipped the first step and just made a bad lore-filled film instead.)
(So basically this is the classic tale of the genie who grants you bad wishes, but taken to the extreme of making the wishes kill you in horrifying ways or something? I mean … great idea for a horror franchise if I’m being honest. It isn’t a surprise Wes Craven produced it.)
Directors – Robert Kurtzman – (Known For: The Demolitionist; Deadly Impact; Buried Alive; The Rage; BMT: Wishmaster; Notes: He penned the story for From Dusk Til Dawn and then paid Tarentino to write the full script. He has 128 make-up credits to his name, so horror is his bread and butter. And yes, he has a make-up credit here.)
Writers – Peter Atkins – (Known For: Hellbound: Hellraiser II; Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth; Fist of the North Star; Prisoners of the Sun; BMT: Wishmaster; Hellraiser: Bloodline; Notes: Was in a theater group with Clive Barker and he indeed actually wrote the Hellraiser theatrical sequels. He only wrote the first Wishmaster, although he has character credits for the rest of the series.)
Actors – Tammy Lauren – (Known For: The Last Flight of Noah’s Ark; Chains of Gold; Tiger Warsaw; Future BMT: Radioland Murders; Mad City; BMT: Wishmaster; Notes: Was one of the stars of the period television drama Homefront. She’s has lot of recurring roles on television over the years, including a seven episode run on Home Improvement.)
Andrew Divoff – (Known For: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull; The Hunt for Red October; Air Force One; Vault; Faust; Oblivion; Neon Maniacs; Xtro 3: Watch the Skies; Adrenalin: Fear the Rush; Dangerous Touch; Blue Hill Avenue; Lockdown; Extreme Justice; The Rage; Oblivion 2: Backlash; Touch Me; Hong Kong 97; Down ‘n Dirty; Night of the Living Dead 3D: Re-Animation; Treasure Raiders; Future BMT: Toy Soldiers; American Dreamz; A Low Down Dirty Shame; BMT: Wishmaster; Mac and Me; Another 48 Hrs.; Graveyard Shift; Notes: Y’all know Andrew Divoff. Oh wait … maybe you don’t. He’s a huge direct-to-video action star from the 90s and is all over a ton of television shows in guest spots over the years. I just watched him in Criminal Minds … don’t watch that episode though, it is ultra racist.)
Angus Scrimm – (Known For: Phantasm; Chopping Mall; John Dies at the End; Phantasm II; Phantasm: Ravager; The Lost Empire; Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead; Deadfall; Phantasm IV: Oblivion; Mindwarp; Always Watching: A Marble Hornets Story; Munchie; I Sell the Dead; A Piece of the Action; Sweet Kill; Transylvania Twist; Witches’ Brew; Scream Bloody Murder; Disciples; Jim, the World’s Greatest; BMT: Wishmaster; Notes: Unusually tall and slender he played the “tall man” character from Phantasm in many parody commercials and shorts over the years as a staple of the horror genre.)
Budget/Gross – $5 million / Domestic: $15,738,769 (Worldwide: $15,738,769)
(That is pretty good. I’m a bit surprised they didn’t try and go back to the well for a second try at the big box office take and instead ended up straight-to-video for the rest of the series.)
Rotten Tomatoes – 25% (8/32): Wishmaster searches for horror in the exploits of a supernatural being — one whose powers, alas, evidently do not include the ability to summon a compelling script.
(Man the reviews are dire. Bad acting, bad special effects, bad writing, and laugh-inducing instead of scream-inducing.)
Reviewer Highlight: An extravaganza of bad special effects and worse acting – Peter Stack, San Francisco Chronicle
(I like the general mood of the poster. Start red mixed with eerie black and all that. The font could be a little better and it kind of looks more like a vampire flick than a djinn flick. I mean, the picture on the poster really looks nothing like the monster in the film.)
Tagline(s) – Be careful what you wish for. (D)
(Well duh. Gotta ding this for creativity… and really everything about it. It’s just a common phrase. Nothing more or nothing less.)
Top 10: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021), The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf (2021), The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), Thor: Ragnarok (2017), Beetlejuice (1988), It (2017), Scooby-Doo (2002), Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), Moana (2016), Shazam! (2019)
Future BMT: 71.1 Supergirl (1984), 64.5 Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie (1997), 61.2 Scooby-Doo (2002), 56.3 The New Mutants (2020), 51.6 Dylan Dog: Dead of Night (2010), 49.7 Sleepwalkers (1992), 47.7 The Dark Tower (2017), 45.9 Jeepers Creepers 2 (2003), 44.5 Wrath of the Titans (2012), 41.2 Clash of the Titans (2010)
BMT: Hellboy (2019), Gods of Egypt (2016), Warcraft (2016), Conan the Barbarian (2011), Eragon (2006), R.I.P.D. (2013), Seventh Son (2014), Jason X (2001), Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993), Slender Man (2018), Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988), The Golden Child (1986), Wishmaster (1997), A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989), The Bye Bye Man (2017), I, Frankenstein (2014), Alone in the Dark (2005)
Matches: The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf (2021), It Chapter Two (2019), Hercules (1997), Legend (1985), Hellboy (2004), Wrath of the Titans (2012), Pumpkinhead (1988), Wishmaster (1997), I, Frankenstein (2014), Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust (2000), Cellar Dweller (1987), Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings (1993), The Monster Project (2017), Slaughterhouse Rock (1987), The Snow Queen (2013), The Demon’s Rook (2013)
(I did a two-fer here because it seemed interesting. Obviously things like The Witcher probably have a demon and a monster. But then things like Cellar Dweller has a genuine demon-monster. Probably not a terrible way to discover related films in the end. Really glad Pumpkinhead II shows up here.)
Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 21) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Robert Englund is No. 4 billed in Wishmaster and No. 10 billed in Urban Legend, which also stars Alicia Witt (No. 1 billed) who is in 88 Minutes (No. 2 billed) which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 3 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => (4 + 10) + (1 + 2) + (3 + 1) = 21. If we were to watch A Low Down Dirty Shame, and Kingdom Come we can get the HoE Number down to 18.
Notes – One of the statues in Raymond Beaumont’s (Robert Englund’s) room with the statues is a statue of Pazuzu from The Exorcist (1973).
Many crew members, including Director Robert Kurtzman (man killed by piano), had small roles in the film, sometimes appearing in different scenes as different characters.
Characters named Finney, Beaumont, Derleth, and Merritt are all references to early twentieth century science fiction or horror writers, Jack Finney, Charles Beaumont, August Derleth, and Abraham Merritt.
Features numerous horror movie actors, including Robert Englund (the “A Nightmare on Elm Street” films), Angus Scrimm (Phantasm (1979)), Tony Todd (Night of the Living Dead (1990), the Candyman (1992) movies), Kane Hodder (various “Friday the 13th” and “Jason” movies), Reggie Bannister (Phantasm (1979)) and Ted Raimi (Darkman (1990), Army of Darkness (1992)).
“Wishmaster was a great experience….I had a very short schedule and had to deliver the film into theatres in 6 months start to finish so it was very stressful but very fulfilling. Sam Raimi actually recommended me for the film and after a half a dozen meeting with the studio I got the job. I had to go in and pitch my take on the film and its design. We shot it in 33 days in LA which was tough as we had dozens of locations all around the city so we had a lot of company moves. We had hundreds of FX which was a bit of a challenge as the schedule was tight. I was very lucky to find Andrew Divoff and Tammy Lauren. Divoff is a very close friend who I enjoy working with on whatever we can find together. We now have this second hand when we work together.” (Backwoods Horror interview with Robert Kurtzman in 2009)
Greg Nicotero, one of the special effects creator for Wishmaster, also worked on special effects in Romero’s 1985 movie Day of the Dead (and he played the character of Pvt. Johnson). Joseph Pilato, who played the drunk crane worker in Wishmaster, was the main villain in Day of the Dead (as Captain Rhodes).
According to a 2016 interview with PopHorror, it took 3.5 hours to get into costume with 1.5 hours to get out according to lead star Andrew Divoff. He also said his favorite scenes for the film were the ones where he shared scenes with his monstrous brethren.
Jack Sholder was approached to direct Wishmaster (1997) but declined as he felt the script wasn’t very good. When it came to the sequel, he was asked to direct it which he also turned down until the producers told him that he could write the screenplay for Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies (1999) and, despite having to follow some basic guidelines, he could have creative freedom with the story.
Ditch Brodie plays by his own rules. This gets him mixed up with a beautiful lady who happens to also be an ex-KGB spy. She enlists Ditch to help stop a group of her fellow spies who are trying to steal a planeful of gold from the former Soviet Union. Can he stop the baddies (and perhaps get the girl) before it’s too late? Find out in… Terminal Velocity.
How?! Ditch Brodie is a rebel without a cause. So even in the midst of an FAA investigation you better believe he’s ready to give a skydiving lesson to a mysterious lady who shows up out of the blue. On their way up for the dive Ditch is shocked to find that she has jumped out of the plane without a parachute! He attempts to dive after her but is too late and she crashes to the ground. Shaken up, Ditch is convinced something is off. He begins to investigate and goes to her apartment in Tucson where he’s attacked by a couple of thugs. Back at the skydiving center he is approached by an Assistant DA who is investigating the death and Ditch brushes him off. As he rides the desert in thought he notices a small plane similar to a plane seen in footage of the incident. He chases it to a gas station where he discovers that the woman, Chris, is still alive. She’s an ex-KGB spy who is trying to escape a group of her fellow former spies. Using the incident as leverage she forces him to do a night dive with her in order to infiltrate the industrial plant she worked at. Inside he retrieves a MacGuffin and barely gets away from the same group of thugs he encountered before. He retreats to the skydiving center where he arranges for a meeting between him, Chris, and the Assistant DA. But it’s a trick! The Assistant DA is actually one of the ex-KGB thugs! Chris and Ditch use a rocket car (for real) to escape and end up in the desert expositing about their histories as spies/olympic level gymnasts (also real). Chris takes the MacGuffin back and is able to track where the ultimate treasure, a planeful of Soviet gold, is hidden. The ex-KGB thugs are aiming to steal it, but Chris wants to stop them as it’ll spell doom for Russia as it tries to get its footing. They find the plane and confirm the treasure, but have to retreat when the thugs show up. Ditch is having second thoughts and lets Chris go off alone (and immediately get kidnapped). Feeling bad, Ditch chases after them with the help of a biplane, boards the treasure plane, damages it, and saves Chris. After parachuting to the ground they dispatch the last of the thugs. Ditch is now an American and Russian hero and he and Chris get medals and smooch. THE END.
Why?! Pretty good motivation film. Ditch doesn’t have much other than survival and getting hot ladies. Chris’ motivation, though, is real interesting. Her group of ex-KGB operatives find themselves a bit lost after the fall of the Soviet Union so her colleagues plan to hijack and steal a bunch of gold for their new capitalist lives. Chris is like, no way. She still has family in Russia and crippling the young country by stealing all their wealth isn’t in the cards for her. It’s pretty interesting to see how movies made their way through a changing world.
Who?! Nothing super interesting here. There was some thanks and an In Memory credit for a make-up artist on the film. I couldn’t find out much about his passing, though. Some interesting actors show up in bit parts though. Melvin Van Peebles, who just passed away, is there, as is Rance Howard, father of Ron Howard.
What?! Put this squarely on the Coke side of the Coke-Pepsi debate. I wonder if it’s because we are focusing on the 90’s that it seems like every film had to have a fridge full of soda. Gandolfini’s character also has a funny quirk of chewing Certs when he’s nervous… at least when he’s in the guise of a lowly assistant DA and not a ruthless ex-KGB agent.
Where?! This appears to mostly be set in Arizona. Several times they orient themselves around Tucson and Phoenix as they drive and dive their way around the state. Years after mapl.de.map it’s always fun to find another one that would have been a good choice for a state. Interesting that American Anthem was our choice for Arizona back in the day as that also is gymnastics centric… I wonder if that is how Sheen’s character ended up there. Was at the gymnastics training facility and eventually drifted out to the skydiving area.
When?! Patrick helpfully noted the presence of a calendar flipped to March in one of the scenes. Otherwise I didn’t note anything in particular about when this might be taking place. That’s good enough for a C, with some room for improvement if they were to at some point enjoy some green beer or whatnot.
Fun movie with some real bad acting by the main players, some good acting by Gandolfini, and some Christopher MacDonald acting from Christopher MacDonald. It’s also pretty confusing if you were simply trying to watch a glossy 90’s action flick about skydiving. At times it’s like they assume the audience wrote the movie or something. Sheen is skydiving into a smokestack and then running away with something in a coat rack while being chased by Russians (who don’t sound Russian) as he does the bidding of a Russian (who kinda sounds Russian). At a certain point you just have to let the movie flow, and indeed it slowly coalesces over one of the several necessary exposition scenes. I got it by the end, but it does throw you for a loop in the moment. All that said, it’s exactly what I want out of my 90’s action. I’d call the genre Electric Guitar Action and it was perfected in the 90’s. As for Crackerjack, hoooo weee. Now that’s what I’m talking about. I loved watching this film. A perfect Die Hard knock-off… and somehow also starring Nastassja Kinski! It’s just a perfect combination of weird sets, weird lines, explosions, and a laugh-out-loud hilarious flashback scene.One of my absolute favorite Bring a Friend entries thus far. Patrick?
‘Ello everyone! We’ve got Charlie Sheen acting like a mad man! We’ve got skydiving! We’ve got a cold war storyline for post-Soviet American politics! Let’s go!
P’s View on the Preview – I had to do a double take when combing through the keywords and plot details … KGB agent? We’re talking about like 1994 right? Once you watch the film it all makes a bit more sense, but it does, in some ways, all feel like a script that was leftover from the heady days of Rambo III which they forgot to make until three years too late (oddly, a lot like Police Academy: Mission to Moscow). Watching the trailer it also seemed very weird to see Charlie Sheen in a genuine action role … it was hard to tell how much this film was actually a comedy. What were my expectations? I really don’t know. I guess I expected there to actually be very little skydiving in the end and a whole lot more of a convoluted political plot.
The Good – I got it half right, there is actually quite a bit of skydiving and in the end the skydiving was the best part of the film (by far). Sheen being a former-Olympian-turned-bad-boy-skydiver is quite good and I kind of wish they had done Terminal Velocity 2 just to see how wild they would get with it. He does come across as a weird early-90s American James Bond in a way, all the way down to the overly complex story involving the dissolving KGB in a Russia teetering on the brink of civil war. Best Bit: The skydiving duh.
The Bad – The overly complex political plotline was just a tad bit too overly complicated. It takes quite a bit of effort to untangle who are the bad former KGB, who are Russian mafia (were they all former KGB, just working for the mob remotely?), and who are the good former KGB. Perhaps it all made a lot more sense at the time, but for a while I was skeptical the plot synopsis could possibly be right because it all seemed very under-explained. Sheen was a bit too jokey for my taste in action, personally (admittedly it probably struck the right tone for an American-in-a-James-Bond story, it just isn’t my cup of tea). Fatal Flaw: Really hard to understand, and I usually am quite good at parsing even the most ludicrous of bad movie plot lines.
The BMT – Unfortunately, beyond the usual “extreme sport” bad movie subgenre, or “skydiving” subsubgenre I don’t really see why this could get any play in bad movie circles. It is actually pretty good if you can understand the plot at all. It looks good and has great skydiving action. I kind of dug it. Double feature with The Chase for sure. Did it meet my expectations? Half and half. There was a lot more skydiving action than I expected (good) and, yeah, it was a little too convoluted as far as political intrigue (bad).
Roast-radamus – Really fun Product Placement (What?) for a few things, but my favorite is Certs which Galdofini nervously chomps on just prior to the movie’s twist. Solid Setting as a Character (Where?) for Arizona, which is actually a pretty rare setting (and one we also saw recently with Fire Birds). And a genuine MacGuffin (Why?) for the mysterious plane which, it turns out, contains a boatload of gold. Closest to Good I think, I like the movie and I think I would like it even more on subsequent viewings when I understand better what it is about.
Sequel, Prequel, Remake – In our continued adventures in Half Past Dead BMT Crossover Episode this seems ripe for it. Because guess where Shasha Petrosevitch is from? Well … he’s American, but it seems like he must have some connection to Russia. In this sequel to Terminal Velocity, the Half Past Dead team come to recruit Krista (and Ditch) whom they’ve heard just might be Half Past Dead. Disappointed when he realizes that she merely faked her own death, Sasha goes to leave when over the wire it is revealed that that boatload of gold from the first film is missing in Russia once again. “Missing gold, that’s my speciality ,” Sasha says, “looks like I’m having a homecoming.” Flying to Russia with the Half Past Dead Team, Sasha reveals that he too was once high level KGB, deep-cover in the US and given a burn notice (which he evaded) in the early 90s prior to becoming a bonafide American hero. It turns out that the gold was stolen by a dissident looking to start their own Siberian kingdom. Doing a sub-zero skydive (“I invented sub-zero skydiving!” says Ditch), they get the gold, Ditch still has the lady, and Sasha gains two friends. “We could use your skydiving skillz on our team, problem is … you have to have seen the other side.” He shoots them both in the chest, black screen, cheers from the audience. Half Past Cold: Temperature Drop. The sequel series would establish that they indeed both survived and started the Russian branch of the Half Past Dead Team, in Half Past Dead: Moscow.
Bring a Friend Analysis – This week we watched Crackerjack (which I pronounce Crackerjack!! with a double exclamation point). It’s about a police officer named Jack who’s become reckless after his family is murdered by the mob (thus his nickname Crackerjack), who then gets himself into a real Die Hard situation at a remote mountain resort. He has to defeat the terrorist Getz (played by Christopher Plummer (!)) who wants mob diamonds to start maybe like a fascist utopia (?), and also he was the one that killed Jack’s family (!) and also he’s rigged the surrounding glacier to explode and bury the resort (!). It’s a lot to absorb, and yet as far as a straight-to-video feature it might be one of the best ones I’ve ever seen in its own way. Lots of hand-to-hand action, but because it’s Die Hard Thomas Ian Griffith also gets beat up a lot which is fun. The plot is kind of convoluted, but there are a lot of explosions and model work and as far as lightweight background noise it is really really enjoyable. Maybe don’t sit down in earnest to watch this thing, but do you have some mindless work you need done? This is a great diversion. A. I love it. I want to watch all of TIG’s films now. This is what I always wanted with Bring a Friend, but somehow we always watch things like A Talking Cat?! which are garbage.
Oh man, so get this, I decided to go on a skydiving adventure, and got this real rad instructor called Ditch. Then I fell out of the plane and smashed into the ground killing me instantly … or so I thought, actually, I just broke all of the bones in my body and suffered a massive concussion. Now I can’t remember a thing. Do you remember what happened in Terminal Velocity?
Pop Quiz Hot Shot!
1) In the beginning of the film we see Charlie Sheen, skydiver extraordinaire, flying into a city and landing at a party. What is the part for? What did he think the party was for?
2) Spoilers, Kinski has come to the skydiving place to fake her own death. Initially she’s attached by cable to Sheen, but unclips herself and dives without him. How does she distract Sheen in order to get away from him?
3) The DA comes and threatens Sheen with jailtime for the negligent manslaughter of Kinski, but aha! She’s still alive!! Amazing. She wants him to do one more thing for him and then she’ll help him out. What does he need to do, and what will he get in return?
4) Charlie holds up his end of the bargain, and brings the DA to meet Kinski to get out of his hot water and back to his life. But uh oh! It’s a trick. Who is the DA really, and how do they get away?
5) So … what was on the plane?
Bonus Question: It’s a classic, but how long do Ditch and Chris stay together?