Written by Shannon McGrew
I’m not going to pretend that I knew much about the “Wishmaster” series until as of late. Growing up in the 90’s, my main source of horror was from films that were being mass marketed in theaters and on TV, and for whatever reason, “Wishmaster” never made it onto my radar. With that said, this past week, the fine folks over at Vestron Video released the “Wishmaster Collection Series” which includes all four films; “Wishmaster”, “Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies”, “Wishmaster 3: Beyond the Gates of Hell”, “Wishmaster 3: Beyond the Gates of Hell”, and “Wishmaster 4: The Prophecy Fulfilled”, that are beautifully restored and remastered. Not knowing what to expect, I took a week to binge watch all four, and let me tell you it was one hell of an experience.
Let’s start with the original “Wishmaster”, the film that started it all. To my delight, I found that I absolutely loved this entire film! The first film in the series introduces us to the evil, demonic Djinn, played spectacularly by Andrew Divoff, who becomes freed from his stone of secret fire, having been placed there by a sorcerer. The Djinn must grant his owner (aka the waker) three wishes so that he can summon his legion of evil Djinn down to Earth. The film is directed by FX legend Robert Kurtzman, and features amazing cameos from Robert Englund, Kane Hodder, Tony Todd, Angus Scrimm and Ted Raimi. What makes this movie so enjoyable is a combination of the talent and charisma that Andrew Divoff brings to the table as the Djinn/Nathaniel Demerest mixed with the unbelievable practical effects.
Moving on to “Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies”, I still found plenty of things to delight in, but I will admit, I it felt like it was missing some of that charm that the first movie had. It may be due to the fact that this film had a new director, Jack Sholder, or perhaps the storyline wasn’t as enticing, but regardless, I still found myself highly entertained with the film. This time around, the Djinn must collect 1001 souls so that the can commence the Apocalypse, and what better way to find these souls than in a prison. Andrew Divoff once again returns as the devilish Djinn and is just as mesmerizing as he was in the first film. As for the practical effects, they are not at the same level as the first film, but are still quite impressive and there is a fair amount of blood and gore to whet the appetite of gorehounds.
The third film is where we begin to go south real fast. I was optimistic going into “Wishmaster 3: Beyond the Gates of Hell” because of how much I enjoyed the first two movies, but that was because I assumed that Andrew Divoff would be returning. Spoiler alert: he doesn’t return for this or the next one. In his place is actor John Novak, who isn’t terrible, but he doesn’t bring that same level of diabolic charm and 90’s humor that Divoff has. Once again we have a new director, Chris Angel (not the magician), and there is a definite shift in tone and atmosphere. This time, the Djinn is causing chaos and carnage at a college university, because why not? As for the practical effects that I’ve come to love from the first two movies, they weren’t as detailed or as unique as the ones in the prior films. Also, the “human” form of the Djinn, Professor Joel Barash (Jason Connery) was super annoying and his persona irritated me throughout the entire film.
If I thought “Wishmaster 3” was bad, oh man, was I in for a doozy with “Wishmaster 4: The Prophecy Fulfilled”. I think overall this film just made me mad. Director Chris Angel and actor John Novak return once again for the latest installment and I swear this movie is a cross between a low budget horror flick + soft core porn + that scene where Jack draws Rose like one of his girls in “Titanic”. The film is supposed to be a horror movie yet it played out more like a tragic love story with blood and gore thrown in. Combine that with an evil Djinn who suddenly has a conscious, and terrible, terrible acting, I was left feeling disappointed and annoyed due to how far the quality of these films had fallen. The only thing about this installment that I enjoyed was the Djinn in human form, played by actor Michael Trucco. He was much more bearable than the last version in “Wishmaster 3”.
Though the last two films left a lot to be desired, I still enjoyed the first two films enough to recommend this collection to horror fans across the spectrum. The visuals are sharp and gorgeous with colors that pop off the screen making this one of the better restored films I’ve seen. This collection is also chock full of special features that include interviews, commentaries, behind-the-scenes footage, and more. Overall, I’m glad I had the chance to watch all these films, and though the last two were pretty painful, I’d be remiss if I said a part of me didn’t enjoy them. Fans of “Wishmaster” will definitely want to scoop this collection up.