Wishmaster is a film with a fantastic concept and an excellent villain that suffers from poor editing. But as far as the ’90s horror goes this is one of my biggest guilty pleasures. Andrew Divoff in the titular role is one of the wisest crackin’ and scariest horror icons from the decade (if not the best). Speaking of icons Robert Englund, Kane Hodder, and Tony Todd all have roles in this film. Yep, Freddy, Jason and the Candyman all are here (not to mention Angus Scrimm and Tom Savini). Makes me think fondly of Hatchet. But please don’t be fooled by Wes Craven’s named splashed across the top of the DVD – he is just “presenting” this flick. It’s too bad that Wes wasn’t more involved because this easily could have been the best horror film of the decade (arguably against Scream) if it was more technically competent. I mean really? How many damn cross fades does one flick need? Also, why isn’t this out on Blu-ray. Don’t make me start a petition.
“Forget Barbara Eden. Forget Robin Williams. To the people of ancient Arabia, the Djinn was neither cute not funny. It was something else entirely. It was the face of fear itself.” Yes, genies are neither big breasted women living with an astronaut nor hairy animated comedians. They are out to turn the human race into their personal slaves. Lucky for us humans the Djinn (or genie) must first grant three wishes to the one who awakens them. Meet Alex. She’s a tomboyish cutie pie who appraises gems for an auction house. After the unfortunate demise of Ted Raimi (Army of Darkness, wishes he had his brother’s money), Alex is asked to appraise an opal found in the rubble of the statue that kills poor Ted. The stone awakens the ancient evil. In other more eloquent words said by the Wishmaster himself, “The shit has hit the fan.”
What makes this film so much fun is watching how exactly the Wishmaster goes about offering and granting wishes to his victim. The first half of the film is spent watching the evil Djinn capture random souls for his harvest. While it doesn’t really make sense (from a plot point) it’s hella fun watching Kane Hodder telling the Djinn that he is going to have to “come through him” before realizes this was a huge mistake…because that is exactly what the Djinn does. He just takes everything so damn literal. Tell him you want to be beautiful forever. You end up a mannequin. Tell him you want a million dollars. He kills your mother and let’s you collect the life insurance. He’s a tough customer to bargain with – especially because he only collects souls and all those who make deals end up dead. Of course, Andre Divoff does this all with a degree of panache and sophistication that far exceeds most horror baddies. He truly is a juggernaut of fear in this film.
The film has some really great moments sure to please gore hounds and horror fans alike. The opening sequence in ancient Persia is full of all sorts of craziness including a lizard person and a dude whose skeleton decides to leave his body (in a most gruesome manner) and walk around. And at one point some dudes jaw gets ripped off for effect. Wishmaster is not afraid to throw some gore in your face. By the time the movie is over the Djinn even recruits Genghis Kahn and a Roman army to do his evil bidding all while wisecracking fools left and right.
I put this one my must watch once per year list. It’s a ton of bloody fun and the virtuoso performance of Divoff sets this one apart from most of the garbage that was the ’90s.
A little piece of advice: Bone up on your semantics if you ever encounter a Djinn. I don’t think Twitter speak is gonna fly.
Snore Factor: ZZ