Sunday, March 28, 2010

Quadrilogy: Wishmaster

So many film series' try to make it big.  I could spend months talking about these guys and, to a certain extent, I have.  Case in point: Critters.  They got four films out- all with different locations- but never really broke into the hearts and minds of America.  You know what also got four films?  The Wishmaster series!  These films were made in the last '90s to early '00s and were attempting to become the next Nightmare on Elm Street series.  Last time I checked, that film series had seven films, a spin-off film, a television series spin-off and even an Indian rip-off.  This series- not as much.  Success isn't everything though, so let me give this series a fair chance.  Part one -obviously- sets everything up.  As a bonus, it's supporting cast is full of people you may not recognize, but you should.  This is...
Our story begins with a long, silly narration by...Angus Scrimm.  That's odd, but okay.  It's all about people being born from fire, genies not and blah, blah, blah.  The film proper begins with a flashback to ancient Persia.  Is that a good start or a bad one?  Anyhow, some crazy shit is going down and a bunch of people die in freaky ways.  One guy gets morphed into a wall (an effect that became popular in the series) & another one had his skeleton burst out of his skin and bit a guy!  This awesomeness cannot last, however, as the plot intervenes and sets up the events to come.  In a nutshell, the Emperor's adviser turns out to be an evil Djinn (aka Genie) and gets trapped in a big, red gem.  Cutting to present day, we get a statue arriving off of a boat.  The owner turns out to be...Robert Englund.  As the winch begins to lower down the item, his lackey runs over to complain about how they're jostling it too much.  That man is...Ted Raimi.  Aw shit, you know what that means!  Sure enough, Ted is crushed by the falling statue when, of all things, a guy spills his drink on the console.  This reveals the big, red gem from earlier and Englund takes it to a museum curator's assistant to have it appraised.  While looking at it, she accidentally drops it when it turns hot- that's a bit odd, don't you think.  The guy covers for her and uses some sort of laser system to scan it, only for the evil Djinn to come out and take on human form.
The man/creature has a very simple- but obtuse- goal.  He has to find 'the freer' (a term you will hear a lot in these reviews) and make her use her three wishes.  The switch-up: when she does so, all Hell will break loose on Earth.  Why?  They actually never quite explain that in any great detail, but I can live with it.  His human form goes around wreaking some havoc by offering other people wishes.  He grants a bum's wish to get back at a rude drug store pharmacist (a bit eerie, since a friend of mind is training for that job) by killing him.  He also stops by a police station while trying to find information on 'the freer' (see- I told you).  A cop comments in an off-hand manner that he wishes that they could catch a suspect in the act.  This prompts our genie to give the man super-strength and allow him to kill several cops.  When the cop sees our villain pawning off some information on the lady, the Djinn grants the man more strength.  This allows him to rip the lower half of a cop's jaw off!  Damn!  Oh and he gets shot 50 times and dies.  During all of this, our heroine is depressed about the man's death, since they were sort-of/sort-of-not a couple.  Boo-hoo.
While our heroine begins to look into the legend of the Djinn, he gets ever closer to her.  A stop at an art exhibitor's manor leads him to be confronted by a cop played by...Kane Hodder.  He tricks the guy into wishing that the Djinn could walk through him and gets turned into a glass door.  He gives the guy $1 million dollars, but does so by killing his mom in a plane crash.  Finally with enough information, the Djinn confronts our heroine.  He tricks her into using two wishes, but she gets away before a third can be made.  Thanks to a minor sub-plot with her sister, she goes to a party at Englund's house.  The Djinn tries to get in, but is stopped by...Tony Todd?!?  Okay, this is getting silly.  He kills him off by using a vaguely-worded wish & puts him in a glass tank like Houdini.  Once inside the party, he sets loose a ton of crazy kills/wishes.  Some high-points: a woman turned into glass and a harp string ripping the head off of a guy (played by the director, apparently).  Oh and Robert Englund gets turned into a monster.  Our heroine flees...some more and finds that our villain can summon statues to life.  A bunch of them kill some guards and corner her.  She finally makes her wish and wishes that the statue was never broken, putting an end to this film with a Deus Ex Machina.  Hurray.
This movie has its moments, but is really not that good.  The premise is unique and they do some interesting stuff with it.  The problem is that it's pretty one-note.  The whole thing has a straight-forward A-to-B premise, but likes to stall along the way.  Most of the sub-plot stuff (whether it involve the Djinn information or the sad stuff) just feels like filler at times.  Do we need three scenes explaining how Djinn's work?  Apparently, since we are just that dumb.  Thanks, movie.  The acting is pretty decent and the horror heavies do their usual level of acting in their cameos (good or bad).  To its credit, the special effects are not that dated (although the bit with Hodder seems silly) and there is some real creativity.  Now, does this feel like a set-up that needs three more films though?  No.  Of course, they made them anyway, so you get to 'enjoy' them with me.
Next up, we get Part 2 in the series.  What does it bring us this time?  If you said, the same basic plot, but with the Russian mob, you would be right!  Stay tuned...


  1. I LOVE the WISHMASTER series. Such unashamed, b-movie goodness. Part 2 is the more "unique" of the bunch, what with the Russian mafia and its prison locale; genie in jail? Love it... although the 4th one and its hokey, oddball "true love" premise gets points, too. I was disappointed when Divoff left the series, and the angel crap in the 3rd and 4th is retarded and unnecessary... but overall, the Djinn and his franchise are always welcome in my collection.

  2. Don't spoil all the fun for everyone else, J. Astro. Not everyone is OCD enough to have watched all of this series, especially considering the disconnect between 1-2 and 3-4.

    As for this film, it is a great film in theory. It's just a bit flawed in execution for my taste. Besides, casting so many famous horror names in bit parts just screams out 'desperation' to me.