Wishmaster (1997): Evil a-Djinn

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Directed by Robert Kurtzman (Buried Alive, Deadly Impact) Wishmaster is a horror film that has its tongue firmly in its cheek. Starring Andrew Divoff and featuring a cornucopia of horror film alumni, as well as Jack Lemmon‘s son Chris. (Chis Lemmon sounds just like his dad and even has most of his mannerisms)

In the beginning of the film we see the “back story” of the evil Djinn (Divoff in heavy makeup) and we also see how he comes to be defeated by a court sorcerer. The sorcerer traps the Djinn in an opal the size of Texas and that is where he remains until a drunken crane operator smashes the statue that the jewel was hidden in.

This newly released opal is pocketed by a dock worker and it finds its way eventually to an auction house. The owner, Nick Merritt (Lemmon) gives the stone to Alexandra ‘Alex’ Anderson (Tammy Lauren) to see how much it’s actually worth. She in turn gives it to her best friend Josh Aickman (Tony Crane) to analyse and its while doing this that the Djinn escapes and starts his deadly path to Alex who actually woke him up.

I really enjoyed this film the first time I saw it. It was a case of “spot the horror star” with its long list of cameos by favourite genre actors. The list is long and impressive:

Like I said, quite a lot of folks to spot and enjoy recognising them before they each meet their respective ends.

The only real problem I had with the film was the female lead Tammy Lauren. Everything about this young lady; her actions, her voice, even her facial features,  screamed “Laura Hamilton” clone. It felt like the director and the producer really wanted Hamilton and since for what ever reason they couldn’t have her, they grabbed another female who resembled her and made her “act” like Hamilton.

I could be wrong, but man, she sure made me think of the Terminator gal.

I know that Wishmaster has been pretty much panned over the years and that it spawned three more sequels (none of which I’ve seen) that were equally panned. But if you took the film at face value and realised that from frame one it was never meant to be taken seriously; you would enjoy it. This film oozes a sly humour that is hard to avoid if you look for it.

Interestingly enough, Wishmaster was the only film out of a grand total of 4 in what became a series, was the only film to have the “Wes Craven Presents” credit.

I remember showing this to my daughter (at a pretty young age, yes I know, I was a bad parent) and once she got past a few of the scarier bits (scary if you’re that age) she found the film to be chock full of sardonic humour. The same way I did.

It’s a great film to watch and chuckle at. Kane Hodder’s scene with Andrew Divoff’s Djinn is hysterically funny. (Amazingly, it was this scene that scared the crap out of my daughter.)

I’d give this a 4 out of 5 stars for black comedy and sly innuendo and for Andrew Divoff and Chris Lemmon‘s performances. A big bowl of popcorn movie for sure.

Andrew Divoff and Robert Englund.
Andrew Divoff and Robert Englund.

Wishmaster (1997): Tongue-in-Cheek Horror

Wishmaster (film)
Wishmaster (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Made in 1997 and directed by Robert Kurtzman (this was his second feature film) Wishmaster is a fun frolic of a horror film. With a cast list that reads like a “who’s who of horror” it’s easy to see why it did so well at the box office.

Promoted as a “Wes Craven Presents” film, it definitely fits into the Wes ‘we are not worthy’ Craven style of horror film.

Now about that cast list.

Robert Englund as Raymond Beaumont
Kane Hodder as Merritt’s Guard
Reggie Bannister as a pharmacist
Tony Todd as Johnny Valentine
Ted Raimi as Ed Finney
Angus Scrimm as Narrator
Joseph Pilato as Mickey Torelli
Andrew Divoff as The Djinn/Nathaniel Demerest
Tammy Lauren as Alexandra Amberson
Chris Lemmon as Nick Merritt

With the obvious exceptions of Tammy Lauren and Chris Lemmon (Jack Lemmon’s son and he sounds just like dad) all the names on the above list are horror film ‘alumni’ and well recognised by film fans.

Peter Atkins who wrote the film, named some of his characters after real-life writers in the horror and fantasy genres.

The plot is about an evil Djinn, aka genie, who inhabits a jewel. This jewel is appropriated by Chris Lemmon’s Auction house and while being appraised by the lab enable the Djinn to escape and wreck havoc on the world. The sting in the tale of this “genie” movie is that the Djin are the original form of the ‘helpful’ genie.

Narrator Angus Scrimm tells us at the beginning of the film that the Djinn equal fear. What he does not tell us is that the Djinn have a wicked sense of humour. Played with evil relish by Andrew Divoff, the Djinn obviously enjoys granting wishes, even when the “wisher” doesn’t intend to wish for anything.

English: Photo of Andrew Divoff taken at Adven...

Some of the FX are a little dated but the intent is still there and the film works in spite of it. It is a brilliantly funny film and well worth the time spent watching it. Some of the things the Djinn does reeks of irony. There is a moment in the film where a door man tells the Djinn that if he wants in the building, he’ll have to go through him. The Djinn with an evil laugh and a grin turns the man into part of a glass door so he can do just that. Wicked fun.

Wishmaster was made for an estimated budget of five million dollars and grossed three times that in box office sales. It was popular enough that it spawned a total of three sequels, finally ending after Wishmaster 4: The Prophecy Fulfilled

Despite the popularity of the original, it is easier to find copies of the sequels that it is to  find Wishmaster itself.

I would definitely recommend this to any horror film fan. Hell, it’s worth a look to just watch Chris Lemmon who is definitely a slice off the old peel.

Chris Lemmon at the 1990 Academy Awards. NOTE:...

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