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Monday, November 26, 2012

Day 331: Wishmaster

More like Pissmaster

What would you ask for if you were given three wishes? Besides infinity White Castle, I'd have to say I'm still mulling over my choices. Winning Mega Millions would be pretty nice also. But what if those wishes came with a price? The “evil genie” character appears more in literature than in the movies. Why is that? If anything, having a magical being in your movie allows for almost limitless potential. You can have all sorts of creatures and situations, giving you a freedom that many other horror movies would kill for. Of course, maybe the reason why there are more evil genie horror movies is because of Wishmaster.

Wishmaster is a 1997 supernatural horror movie from executive producer Wes Craven. The film stars Tammy Lauren (The Young And The Restless, Home Improvement) as appraiser Alexandra Amberson. In a prologue, we learn of creatures called the Djinn, creatures who lived in the void between worlds. When one wakes a djinn, they are granted three wishes. Once the third wish is granted, the djinn is freed. In 1127 AD Persia, a djinn (Andrew Divoff, Toy Soldiers, Air Force One) grants the wishes of the emperor, twisting his wishes into hideous monstrosities. The emperor's wizard traps the djinn inside a jewel which is then hidden inside a statue. In present day, collector Raymond Beaumont (Robert Englund, A Nightmare On Elm Street, Inkubus) is receiving the statue when a freak accident causes the statue to fall on his assistant (Ted Raimi, Midnight Meat Train, Spider-Man) and shatters. A worker steals the jewel containing the djinn and it ends up being appraised by Alexandra Amberson. She takes the jewel to her friend josh to analyze it and he unwittingly releases the djinn, who kills Josh by granting him a wish to “release his of his pain”. The djinn grows stronger by granting wishes and taking people's souls. Alexandra shares a connection with the djinn and is able to see his murders. He takes the form of a man, calling himself Nathaniel Demerest and continues his reign of terror until he finds Alexandra and forces her to ask for her three wishes. Will Alexandra be able to stop the all-powerful djinn and send him back to the void before he destroys the world?

"Somebody stop me!"

It's important to mention that Wishmaster is directed by Robert Krutzman, an award-winning make-up and effects artists. His work includes Cabin Fever, Vampires, Night Of The Creeps, and Army Of Darkness. That's an impressive group of movies without a doubt. The monsters and creatures in Wishmaster continue Krutzman's run of great makeup and traditional effects. There is a wide variety of creatures that keep the action interesting when the story fails to do so. One thing I found funny was that characters acted shocked when they saw the djinn's true form. Truthfully, he looked like Jim Carey from The Mask with a little more detail. Beyond the make-up, there is a myriad of special effects, some decent and some clearly steeped in mid-90's computerization.

Of course, the problem then lies with Krutzman's directing abilities and the story itself. The story is all over the place while still managing to go absolutely nowhere. The movie has a lot glaring plot holes that are hard to ignore. In the very beginning, we learn that there are more than one djinn. Shouldn't these things be popping up all over the place? And why can't they get someone to ask for three wishes? It shouldn't be that hard. Why did the djinn bother to take human form? It's not like he was having a problem getting people to wish for things before? The acting is absolutely horrendous and downright painful at times. Tammy Lauren is really miscast as she seems out of place in almost every scene. Andrew Divoff is hilariously over-the-top, practically gnawing on the scenery. It's nice to see Craven stalwarts like Robert Englund and Tony Todd in small roles, but if you're going to have them in your movie, give them more than just 2 or 3 scenes. For a horror movie, there is not a lot of atmosphere and almost no subtlety. 

"You love the 90's? No way! Me too!"

When I decided to watch Wishmaster, I was expecting something at least halfway decent. I knew there were a few sequels, so, like Hellraiser and Puppet Master, I figured the original movie would be great. How wrong I was. Other than some good make-up and a few scenes of violence, Wishmaster has very little going for it. The acting really stands out as being particularly horrendous. The story is pretty boring and the ending seems pretty obvious. I think I've decided on another wish; to erase watching Wishmaster from my memory.


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