31 Days of Horror(1)


The Original

An evil genie (Andrew Divoff) is released when the statue in which he is imprisoned is smashed in a shipping accident.  The genie latches on to the woman (Tammy Lauren) who found his stone prison as he must grant her three wishes so that he can fulfill a prophecy and bring about the end of the world.  The Djinn is malevolent and every wish he grants has a dark consequence.  The movie ends when the woman wishes that the man who dropped the container which held the djinn’s statue hadn’t been drinking on the job that day, effectively erasing the entirety of the movie from continuity.

Wishmaster came along at a point in the 90s when the world was sick of fast-talking wiseacre supernatural villains in the Freddy Krueger mould.  It was also after Scream had “revitalized” the genre and brought on a wave of teen-drama horror movies of varying quality.  I can only assume it was the “Wes Craven presents” before the title that got anybody to actually watch the film in the first place.  Regardless, Wishmaster is a fairly solid movie with some excellent special effects and gore and a great villain played wonderfully by Andrew Divoff.  Robert Kurtzman hasn’t done much that’s worthwhile since, but this was a legitimately good horror movie.

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The Sequel

Since the first movie technically didn’t happen, the djinn is still tucked away safely in his statue prison.  So when Morgana (Holly Fields) and her boyfriend rob the museum and get in a shootout with the security guards, the statue is destroyed and Morgana takes the stone thinking it might be of value.  The stone takes a bullet, saving her life in the process but also releasing the djinn.  The djinn takes its human form of Nathaniel Demerest and takes the rap for Morgana, using prison as a place to farm the 1001 souls it needs to take to fulfill the prophecy.

The movie really should be over in the first few minutes.  The Wishmaster grants Morgana’s dying boyfriend a wish when he says he wishes he was never born.  Shouldn’t that mean that they were never at the museum in the first place and he would still be trapped again?  It doesn’t matter, Morgana isn’t as smart as her counterpart from the first movie so rather than make a wish to erase her deeds and save the day she decides to trap the djinn using the method that a mystic did hundreds of years ago.  The problem is that she needs to be pure of heart which is an issue since she looks like the sort of person who shops at stores that carry mostly candles, rolling papers, and Meredith Brooks CDs.  So she purifies herself by cutting off her pinky, going to church, taking out her nose ring, and dressing like Mandy Moore’s character from A Walk to Remember.

Meanwhile the djinn gets his 1001 souls on a technicality when he grants Bokeem Woodbine’s wish.  Or rather, as Woodbine is giving him a tour of his casino, he offhand mentions that since the house always wins they wish all the gamblers the best of luck and he grants that.

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Does It Hold Up?

Not quite.  Wishmaster 2 has some great gore gags and Andrew Divoff is just as wonderful as last time.  Though Divoff is right on the edge of dipping into self-parody here; his stiff posture, unflinching gaze, and Cheshire cat smile are creepy in some shots but in others they make him seem like a malefic mash-up of Ryan Reynolds and Carl from Slingblade (with maybe a pinch of Jim Carrey in there.)  One thing that definitely carries over from the first film is that, even though the monster make-up looks great, Divoff is 1000 times more intimidating as a normal looking human.

There’s also no rhyme or reason to the djinn’s powers this time.  In the first one it was pretty cut and dry: if you say “I wish” before something, he’ll grant it.  This rule is even proven when Kane Hodder’s security guard says “I wish you would leave” and he begins walking away against his own wishes.  He also causes a security guard to freeze solid when he orders him to freeze.  First of all, he didn’t say “I wish” and the freeze wasn’t him voicing a desire to be frozen but for the djinn to freeze.

Also, the djinn’s wishes all have that Monkey’s Paw thing where they all have consequences that the wisher maybe didn’t consider.  Except sometimes they don’t.  A man wishes to escape prison and so he does, Morgana wishes a man back to life and he returns to life with no ill effects and this is the one wish that it really would be in the djinn’s best interest to mess up.

The movie also doesn’t have much plot.  Morgana and The Wishmaster exist in separate movies that occasionally cross over until the end.  The Wishmaster’s movie isn’t too bad, but Morgana’s movie is awful and I grew bored of her shit easily.  It’s not really surprising since Wishmaster 2 involves none of the people behind The Wishmaster except for Andrew Divoff, and he bailed on the two garbage sequels that followed.

It’s still an enjoyable movie but this movie has a lot of what cynical audiences probably thought the original would have.

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Watch, Toss, Or Buy?

Watch it.

Where Can I Find It?

There’s a dual-disc DVD of both movies and it can be found on Amazon Instant.