aka: Wes Craven’s Wishmaster
Director: Robert Kurtzman
Starring: Tammy Lauren, Andrew Divoff, Robert Englund, Chris Lemmon, Wendy Benson-Landes
Be careful what you wish for
Raymond Beaumont is eagerly awaiting for his new priceless collector piece to be unloaded from the shipping boat. The piece is a unique statue of the ancient Iranian God Ahura Mazda that he has been searching after for over ten years.
A drunken crane worker accidentally drops the box it is in on the ground and a fire opal that was hidden inside the statue pops out and is stolen by another worker. The opal ends up in the hands of the young appraiser Alexandra Amberson, who unleashes the terror within the opal out to the world and now has to make three wishes before the Wishmaster destroys the lives of all of her loved ones.
The djinn, or genie in a bottle, is usually portrayed as a fun and positive character in cinema that helps a main character in getting his or her wishes fulfilled. The original legend of the djinn however tells another story and doesn’t make the entity have good intentions all the time. Wishmaster, executive produced by Wes Craven, tries to tell that story and make the Wishmaster into a new horror icon that could go on to become an on franchise.
And it succeeded, the film was successful and three sequels was made, although none proved to be highly regarded even amongst horror fans. It was however one of the few horror franchises of the late 90’s that didn’t rely on being a Scream ripoff and I appreciated it for what it was back then just as I do today.
The film also acknowledge that it is playing in the same field as the Freddy Krueger, Candyman and Jason films and has plenty of references to the older films, including cameo’s and parts for horror legends such as Robert Englund, Tony Todd, Kane Hodder and more. You can also spot a Pazuzu statue (The Exorcist) in the museum. These days it is more common to do that, but getting all of these references in this film felt fresh to me in 1997.
There is a fun fantasy tone to the film that makes the gore feel more fun than disturbing. The practical effects are done quite well, while the computer effects are very poor. Andrew Divoff’s devilish and at times humorous portrayal as the Wishmaster is awesome. His makeup is excellent and gives an original look to him that horror fans can accept and enjoy.
The director of this film is the special effects wizard Robert Kurtzman. It’s the second film he had done after an obscure film called The Demolitionist two years before this. There is a focus on the effect scenes and the character development isn’t given that much focus, as to be expected when the film is directed by a special effect guy, but he delivered a fun product with this one.
Wishmaster would probably end in the top 10 slasher film list of the 1990’s, although that’s probably not saying very much. It is an entertaining horror fantasy film that is trying to satisfy the horror audience and I think it succeeded in doing just that.