An evil genie imprisoned in a rare jewel is unleashed upon a modern world in which the magics to contain him have been forgotten. He will grant the one who woke him three wishes. Upon granting the third he can open the walls of reality bringing his people through and causing hell on earth…so yes, he wants to destroy the world, which I grant you is not especially original but don’t click off this review just yet…
I cannot understand the people who don’t like horror, I mean think about it, in a horror film you humans can see all the nasty and grotesque things that might happen to you. From getting eaten alive by a giant snake to death by flesh eating virus to a legendary level of suffering found only in Hell itself after you die. If those are the kinds of torments that your minds can come up with, how relieved are you going to be when my people arrive and not kill you through use of an anal probe shoved so far up you it erupts out of your mouth but use a nice quick and mostly painless disintegrator ray.
Horror films can be pretty entertaining and not surprisingly some of the greatest examples of horror came from two of the greatest eras of recent years, the 1980s which as fans will be well aware gave us films like An American Werewolf in London, Aliens and The Thing. Plus the 1990s in which we were treated to films like Tremors, The Frighteners and Event Horizon. There were also a number of other films that were not as well known but featured something a little different, and on that note allow me to introduce you to…Wishmaster
The film starts with an ominous voice telling the audience that there are creatures called the ‘Djinn’ which dwell in the spaces between worlds, and letting them know that if a Djinn grants three wishes to a mortal then his Hellish legions will be unleashed upon the world.
Wishmaster opens in Persia in 1127 AD with the Emperor using his second wish. He wishes for the Djinn to astonish him and show him wonders. The Djinn unleashed horrific tortures on the Emperor’s people, mutilating them with some people having their skeletons ripping out of their bodies and all manner of very unpleasent things happing to others. The Djinn urges the Emperor to just wish everything away, but Zoroaster, a sorcerer (played by Ari Barak) appears and traps the Djinn in a fire opal before the Emperor can make his final wish.
Jump into the present day and America Raymond Beaumont (Robert Englund) is supervising a rare statue being unloaded from a cargo ship. The crane operator has been drinking and makes a mistake causing the crate to fall and the statue to break. A dock worker notices a jewel embedded within the broken remains, and steals it. After the jewel changes hands a few times, it ends up at Regal Auctioneers, where boss Nick Merritt (Chris Lemmon) gives it to appraiser Alexandra “Alex” Amberson (Tammy Lauren) to examine. She blows on the jewel, and awakens the Djinn inside. Later the jewel is broken whilst being examined in a laser microscope and so the freed Djinn goes in search of Alex. Once it is unleashed upon the world and as the Djinn searches for Alex, he grants various wishes to those that cross his path which cost those who make a wish their soul…
Let’s be honest, Wishmaster has a very simple premise: “Be careful what you wish for” and for this film it works rather well.
The Djinn is a nasty looking monster that can take the face of a corpse and assume a human form. As a human he is played by Andrew Divoff and is a treat as the smooth talking and charming Nathaniel Demerest. Divoff oozes charm and the sequence in which he talks to a shop girl, telling her that if she asks to live forever, it just may happen. She innocently does, the camera cuts to the Djinn, who smiles, and walks away. The camera returns to the woman to show that she has now become nothing more than a store mannequin.
What is quite interesting is the fact that the Djinn cannot actually do anyone any harm unless they ask him to, one injured man asks for an end to his pain, so the Djinn kills him thus ending his pain. A bouncer asks for a more dangerous profession because being a doorman is boring and is transported into a water chamber which apparently “[Houdini escaped from] in under two and a half minutes”…so the list goes on…thus be careful for what you wish for. A security guard tells the Djinn to turn around and walk away and the Djinn has no choice to what he is told because there is no other way to interpret the guard’s words.
For the seasoned horror fan, there are numerous cameos from various other horror film icons, including Tony Todd (Candyman), Robert Englund (Nightmare on Elm Street) and Kane Hodder, (Jason Voorhees from the Friday 13th Series). Only those with a strong stomach should attempt to watch Wishmaster, it is has a vein of tongue-in-cheek humour running through it, but the scenes of violence are excessive with all manner of nasty things happening to the unfortunate characters.
Some moments are a joy, and lift Wishmaster above some of the very poor Friday 13th sequels or the abysmal additions to the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. The Djinn twists virtually everything someone asks him into something unpleasant so by the time the final credits role the premise might be getting a little old. However, Divoff plays the Djinn with an obvious dark relish, and it is his smooth charisma that makes this film worth seeing.
Like a lot of horror films Wishmaster attempted to take the comedy character of a genie and turn it into something terrifying. The film recognises that it is a horror film, and sets out to milk its premise as much as it possibly can. The gore is extreme and excessive but this is a splatter film so that is to be expected. The ending is original and will leave the audience with a smile (assuming they are not still grossed out by the grisly final sequence).
Wishmaster should have been a single film but unfortunately it declined rapidly as three sequels were made. This was the first and should have been only one. Fans of gore and splatter horror films will not be disappointed and Divoff’s performance makes this worth a watch.
Whilst this is not the best film ever made it is a better than the average horror film and as a result lifts my Thumb from being Horizontal to being Up, it is not the most solid Thumbs Up I have ever given but it is Up regardless.
6.5/10 - Better than average horror film with a charismatic villain played by an actor that is clearly just having some fun with the role he knows is a bit on the ridiculous side but unfortunately the premise may get really old really fast