Though it says Wes Craven right in the title, it's really not a Wes Craven directed movie - Wishmaster.
Produced yet not directed by the recently deceased master of horror, Wishmaster is a prime example of a horror movie with some very good and unique ideas yet not used to their full potential.
It's a movie that generally gets a bad wrap and is not that much unknown as it is simply disregarded and lost in the dust bins of obscurity.
Let's take a closer look at Wes Craven's Wishmaster as one of the "Movies Nobody Talks About".
What is Wishmaster all about?
Wishmaster is a 1997 horror film directed by Robert Kurtzman and executive produced by Wes Craven, that centers around a djinn, an omnipotent, supremely evil entity who is released from a jewel and seeks to capture the soul of the woman, Alexandra, who discovered him, thereby opening a portal and freeing his fellow djinn to inhabit the earth.
Wishmaster is a full-on traditional mid-90s horror film and thus includes many trademarks of 90s flicks such as a fairly straightforward storyline, lots of gore, some impressive practical effects and now very dated early CGI-effects.
But considering that the movie revolves around an evil djinn who is basically capable of making anything happen yet not exactly having the freedom to do everything HE wants, Wishmaster uses a very interesting concept which alone makes it a standout horror flick on its own. There are actually only very few to no evil djinn movies out there aside from Wishmaster, and this is the best of them to date.
Wishmaster's premise and concept on its own are actually quite genius. Most probably thanks to the supervising eyes of Wes Craven himself, you can clearly tell that the script writer of Wishmaster obviously had some advice coming to him from Craven himself: Why? Because Wishmaster's Djinn is a special kind of villain with a unique feature that grants him to harm you only during special occasions.
Wishmaster's Djinn, played by Andrew Divoff, is an evil creature, that when accidentally summoned, has to grant its summoner a total of three wishes to be set free and to be then able to bring his army of evil djinn into the humans' Earth realm. The catch is that the Djinn can only grant wishes and not do harm from his own willing. With that said, The Wishmaster's evil Djinn always takes advantage of people's wishes by pushing them to wish for something that can have double meanings. For example, an innocent cashier woman that wishes for eternal beauty is suddenly turned into a mannquin by the Djinn (you can watch the kill here), or a suffering accident victim who wishes for his pain to go away is then suddenly killed.
Thus, it's especially the wishes uttered in Wishmaster and their morbid outcome that make most of the fun in the movie. You can clearly tell that the movie's Djinn is enjoying to torture and kill people yet letting their own greed and idiocy do most of the job. The amazement of seeing people actually somewhat wish for their own demise without knowing it, is so fun that is actually makes up for Wishmaster's otherwise very generic plot and quite lame final twist ending.
|Be careful what you wish for.|
But why does nobody talk about Wishmaster then?
In short, because even with its great concept, Wishmaster is a very inconsistent movie and resultingly received mostly bad reviews from critics.
Even though Wishmaster's concept is actually quite imaginative and screams for its potential to be fully used to the max, one cannot shake off the feel that the movie in its entirety is filled with huge ups and downs.
For every cool kill scene in the movie using gory practical effects, you get another scene with horribly dated early CGI-effects and some nonsensical trippy mind-torture montages that make no impact on the story or let alone sense whatsoever.
It doesn't help either that, despite the movie's straightforward and easy to follow premise, some of the movies rules are oftentimes bent really far, making the movies titular villain sometimes come off as the biggest douche AND idiot ever. Sure, the evil Djinn is quite talented in twisting his victims' words in their mouths, making them wish for their own deaths, yet regarding the movie's rules, the Djinn oftentimes seems to make up some rules on the fly. For example, in some instances, people actually have to explicitly say that "they wish" for something to happen in order for the Djinn to grant their wish. Othertimes, it seems like the Djinn just assumes that some people wish for something and then makes it happen, making you question how the whole "wish thing" even exactly works and where the limits are.
|Behold! The ancient powerful djinn who never learns from his mistakes!|
Yet worst of all is the fact that the Djinn is, all things considered, a complete moron.
The Djinn's urge to twist peoples' wishes around is so huge that he seemingly ALWAYS wants to grant each of their wishes with an evil catch to it. So no wonder that after two horribly gone wrong wishes, nobody wants a third wish from the Djinn to happen. This raises the question why the hell the Djinn doesn't just grant his summoner two wishes in a "nice way" so that he will then wish for a third time guaranteed and resultingly free the Djinn. This plothole is so huge that it seriously makes you question the logical thinking brainfunctions of the titular evil WishMASTER.
On top of that, the evil Djinn eventually gets so powerful during the final showdown of the movie that viewers really anticipate a big final twist that puts the Djinn's own rules upside down making his summoner, the museum appraiser Alexandra, use the Djinn's own power to defeat him.
Yet what we actually get is a lame twist that even kids can see coming from a mile away, since it's the exact same twist that is practically always used in each and every djinn episode in every kids cartoon show at the end (most notably, the genie episode from Disney's Rescue Rangers).
So, Wishmaster is actually a horror movie with some very good ideas who just seem to not have been thought through completely and thus only sporadically work within an already very straightforward story to begin with.
|"I tried to be nice once...I hated it."|
Effectswise and regarding the imaginative kills themselves, Wishmaster is absolutely worth watching though.
Although still quite a bit tame in comparison to some hardcore gorehound movies out there, Wishmaster makes up for it by making you anticipate each new naive victim that falls into the Djinn's grasp.
Once again utilizing the feature of the victims wishing for their own deaths, it's always fun to find out just how exactly the Djinn manipulates peoples' wishes and what he turns them into.
While some of the kills are more of a smart and more subtle "tricked you"-kind of nature, others are flatout gory in their execution with some people puking out their own guts, only for the guts to become some tentacle monster-thingy. It sometimes really gets otherworldy gross but awesome to watch as it fits the grotesque world of the Djinn himself.
With that said, the design of the Djinn himself as well looks very outlandish and fittingly bizarre. Although it mostly looks like some sort of slimy weird alien (at least in its true form), the creature designers did well in still incorporating some Oriental styles into it, as for example the Djinns big Buddah-esque earlaps and his beetle-like armor/robe.
The Djinn can easily be called very well designed and executed with stellar makeup work that makes him look inhuman but still featuring actor Andrew Divoff's key facial trades and expressions.
|"You rubbed the wrong lamp, motherfucker."|
Actingwise, Wishmaster is nothing to truely write home about - actually it's mostly bad.
Much like its overall camerawork, the movie mostly feels very much like a straight-to-DVD/TV effort regarding the performances.
While main protagonist Alexandra, played by Tammy Lauren, feels like a wet blanket just moving from scene to scene and not in the least acting like a scream queen (actually she almost never screams), the movie's prime performance is done by Andrew Divoff, the Djinn, himself.
Though many might call his performance drastically overacted, Divoff absolutely fits the bill and gets the job done. His performance as the Djinn is so over-the-top and fun to watch that it somehow feels just perfect. With that more than unsubtle evil grin CONSTANTLY present on his face, you can just tell that Divoff had loads of fun playing the part. His performance is actually so spot-on that one could easily forgive the fact that the Djinn himself is actually mostly present in human form as Divoff himself (meaning without the Djinn makeup) to blend into the crowd.
Other than that, Wishmaster is often referred to as a movie featuring a lot of cameos from other notable horror movie franchises, like Robert Englund (Freddy Krueger), Kane Hodder (Jason Voorhees), Tony Todd (Candyman) and many more. Though they only fulfill rather small roles in the movie, it's a nice bonus for horror fans to have them point out each and every one of them.
|"This is my scared face."|
Wishmaster is sure enough very far away from being a horror masterpiece. With so many plot holes, a generic main storyline, and mostly bland performances, the one big thing that still somewhat manages to hold the movie up as something special, is its core premise and concept.
There certainly aren't too many evil djinn movies out there, and to this day, Wishmaster still manages to stand out as the best out of all of them. Though this doesn't have to say too much, Wishmaster can actually be a rather good time if you crank down your expectations quite a bit. Although you will surely notice that you are watching a horror movie that feels like it came out straight-to-DVD or TV, Wishmaster's unique kills and very enjoyable cool-looking villain will still somehow make it worth your time.
It might not be a must-own horror movie by any means, but you should definitely give it watch with some friends if you happen to stumble across it. With some creative wish-kills, lots of cameos and some laughably dumb plot holes in it, Wishmaster might even become a guilty pleasure for some.
Also, considering that Wishmaster's core concept fares way better than its actual execution, Wishmaster would be a perfect fit for a movie that has to be remade in order to have it use its full potential.
P.S.: And even when some might regard its sequel Wishmaster 2 as still watchable, do not ever waste your braincells on watching the horrible Wishmaster 3 and 4! (Don't believe me? Then watch this.)
Where to see it:
Wishmaster is quite common and cheap to get on DVD, while it's often used as a filler flick on TV during late nighttime hours.