Featuring a perfect blend of entertainment, gore, and humor, Wishmaster is one of those fun horror movies. You know the ones I’m talking about, where the atmosphere is vibrant, the main villain is cracking jokes and there are a lot of gruesome scenes. It feels like a grisly fairy tale and opens like one with a sorcerer mixing all these different potions. And we get the infamous party scene that will tell you everything you need to know about this movie. The creativity and quality of both practical and special effects was really on another level. You will feel like you’re watching a much bigger movie. Just think of The Mummy and Hellraiser, on a bit of a budget.
Mostly because the director, Robert Kurtzman is a great make-up artist and the rest of the department was headed by none other than Greg Nicotero. As the final nail in the coffin, I also want to add that the producer was Wes Craven. This all-star roster extends to the cast of Wishmaster, comprising of horror legends like Tony Todd, Andrew Divoff, and Robert motherfucking Englund. Tammy Lauren was also pretty good as Alexandra. However, Divoff stole the show here as Djinn. The creature design became truly iconic with one of the best evil voices in horror I ever heard. And that stencil, hot damn! I remember trying to draw his face over and over back in the nineties, fascinated by that “evil look”.
It is the year of our lord Ahura Mazda 1127 and the Persian king is hosting one hell of a party. After asking Djinn, an evil entity who grants wishes, to make his party memorable, everybody started dying. Luckily, the king’s sorcerer manages to trap the Djinn in a fire opal. Now, almost a thousand years later, he’s about to walk free again.
As you might have guessed from the title, Wishmaster revolves around the whole “careful what you wish for” gimmick. And while that element is quite familiar, the rest of the stuff feels refreshing and original. I have to admit that this is the first time that I learned about the Djinn and just how evil they can be. And by the way, Zoroastrianism is one of the world’s oldest continuously practiced religions. So, Ahura Mazda is a real ancient deity and not some riff on the Japanese car manufacturer. This gave the movie an exotic and mysterious vibe as we’re not dealing with classic entities but something different.
However, you should also know that there are some pacing issues and stilted dialogue also present here. It’s like they didn’t know what to do with all these potent elements. Robert Kurtzman only had six months to finish the movie working on a $5 million budget. The whole thing reminded me of Warlock, a much tamer eighties fantasy movie. Finally, if you’re looking for movies like Wishmaster check out The Relic. Also, I don’t recommend watching the rest of the Wishmaster franchise as the quality really went down the drain.
Director: Robert Kurtzman
Writer: Peter Atkins
Cast: Tammy Lauren, Andrew Divoff, Robert Englund, Wendy Benson-Landes, Ricco Ross
Fun Facts: One of the statues in Raymond Beaumont’s room with the statues is a statue of Pazuzu from The Exorcist (1973). Also, the knife that Jack the Ripper uses towards the end of the movie is taken from Cobra.
IMDb Link: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120524/