Before there was Death House, Wishmaster was already the “expendables of horror”. The film brings together Robert Englund, Kane Hodder, Tony Todd, Ted Raimi and Angus Scrimm. It’s hard to believe that I hadn’t seen it until now. Turns out all four movies in the Wishmaster franchise are available to stream right now on Hulu and I’m never one to turn down the opportunity to binge through a horror franchise, especially one I’ve never seen before.
The film centers around an ancient djinn, which is essentially an evil genie. We see just how evil the djinn is right at the beginning of the film. He is released from his prison by a Persian emperor and proceeds to turn every wish the emperor makes into a hellish nightmare. Ultimately he is trapped inside a fire opal and all is well for hundreds of years, until a series of events sets the djinn free once again in modern day America. There is plenty of magic and mysticism on display in Wishmaster but it also very much has the feel of a slasher movie as the djinn uses the wishes of the people he comes across to lead to their demise.
Not only does the film feature some of the biggest actors in the genre, it is also prodcued by Wes Craven and directed by Robert Kurtzman. Kurtzman is mostly known for his incredible work as an effects guy, as you would expect the effects look great in Wishmaster. I love the design of the djinn and even though most of the kills are elaborate and creative, they all manage to look good. Kurtzman doesn’t break any new ground here as a director but the movie is well shot and the story is well told.
As I mentioned, there are a number of big name horror actors in this film. Most of them don’t have anything more than a cameo however. The heavy lifting in Wishmaster is done by Andrew Divoff as the djinn. Divoff seems to enjoy playing evil a little too much. The biggest problem with his performance that I can find is that it didn’t immediately catapult this character into the realm of horror icon. Not having seen the sequels and being unaware of what happened with the djinn in future installments of the franchise, I’m curious to see where the character went off track a failed to reach that status. There is nothing in this film that seems to have stopped him.
Wishmaster is not a great film but it’s much better than I expected it to be. Over the years I have heard a lot of negative things about it. Ultimately I found it to be a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to seeing the next three movies. We’ll take a look at Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies next time.