Monday, 8 August 2011

WISHMASTER (1997)

Movie and TV Mistress back again with another Horror Franchise, this time it's WISHMASTER.


I actually remember seeing this at the cinema, as it came out in May 1998 in the UK. I do know I found it funny more then scary back then, I wonder if I still feel the same way, has this laughable film improved with age?

Directed by Robert Kurtzman, a founding member of KNB effects who have worked on EVIL DEAD films and lots of other horror films including the recent Zombie series THE WALKING DEAD. This was his second time directing, his first being THE DEMOLITIONIST (1995), think ROBCOP with out the robot, it sounds hilarious and I will now be looking for it.

On with this film, which if you don't know is about a Djinn which is a Genie unlike Robin Williams or Jeannie from I DREAM OF JEANNIE. The movie opens with a Gem being cast, the McGuffin of the film. Next we have a long scroll about the history of the Djinn, narrated by Angus Scrimm (The Tall Man from PHANTASM). We hear a man in Persia wishing to be shown all the wonders of the world, a man is made part of a wall and looks just like Han Solo in Carbonite.

OK I’m less then 5 minutes in and I’m already laughing, it kind of reminds me of ARMY OF DARKNESS, the Type face is the same and it seems to have a similar film quality. I do wonder, what was it about the 90's which made movies so self referential We get to see lots of great make up effects which KNB are excellent at. We have a guy with a weird alien like creature popping out of his chest which bites a woman, next we have a man's skeleton escape his skin and attack people and another man turned into a snake. The wizard to the sultan tells him not to make any more wishes and then traps the Djinn in the red ruby which is then encased in a statue for safe keeping.

It's a hell of an opening for a movie and sets the mood for the rest of the film, which to me like HOUSE it is a horror comedy.

We flash forward to present day and Robert Englund (Freddy Kruger) and Ted Raimi (Joxer the Mighty) are at a dock receiving a shipment of the very statue the McGuffin ruby is in and of course a crew guy is drunk and drops the crate with the statue on Ted's head. Ted always dies in horror films in the funniest ways.

The statue is broken and the ruby is exposed and a dock guy takes it to an auction house for appraisal. we are introduced to Alex the heroine of the film, who doesn't want to date a hot guy (Josh) who fancies her. OK so Alex is a gem expert at the Auction house and just happens to have a Genie bottle like that in I DREAM OF JEANNIE in her office, see you can't take this movie seriously. Alex rubs the gem and we get a jump scare of her boss being right beside her, she takes the gem to Josh to check it further.

Ah set up for the finale battle between Alex and the Djinn, she tells a girl basket ball team they need stillness. While Josh uses a laser scan on the Gem and releases the Djinn who kills him by wishing for the pain to cease. Alex feels the pain and death of every victim and is connected to the Djinn. The Djinn creature grows and gets stronger with every wish.

This movie has so many horror actor cameo's Reggie Bannister from the PHANTASM films is a pharmacist and Buck Flower who plaid Red Thomas the Bum in BACK TO THE FUTURE again plays a bum. They argue and The bum wishes for Reggie to die.

Meanwhile Alex is upset and her sister doesn't believe her visions, Shannon thinks Alex is just having nightmares, which is true she is having nightmares about the Djinn. Alex investigates where the Gem came from and meets Robert Englund and gets some history and advise while the Djinn gets a human face and blinds a medical student. Alex meets a folklore professor who explains the plot and how the Djinn works, while we have more silly jump scares just to keep the audience on their toes.

We have a montage of Alex reading about the Djinn's history and more exposition. While the Djinn goes to her boss to find out where Alex lives, and on the Boss's Desk has a classic Genie Lamp like that is Aladdin. More smoking from both Alex and the Djinn, meanwhile the Djinn puts the Gem back together so he can bring more of his kind into the world, bit like the dark overlords in HOWARD THE DUCK, which is funny since the Djinn sounds just like the possessed Dr Jennings.

Alex goes to the professor again but it's very obvious that the Djinn has taken over her body or something, it's very red riding hood. Alex gets a free wish and wishes the Djinn to blow his brains out which he does but he cannot die, she then wishes to know what he is and is then trapped in the Gem being chased by her fears. Alex wishes her second official wish and we have a scream moment with the house phone.

Alex heads to Robert's party where the final battle will take place and is stopped by Tony Todd (Candy Man), she gets in and the Djinn gets Tony to try and escape a water tank and tricks Robert into wishing that his party was like that at the start of the film. Alex promises that she won't wish and runs way but the Djinn makes the soldier statues come to life and attack her and traps her sister in a burning painting. So she wishes that the Dock worker had not been drinking on the job 2 days earlier so everyone including Ted Raimi is safe and sound and Alex asks Josh out on a date.

So that was WISHMASTER it was still as funny as I remember and gross and the make-up effects were just as good as you would expect from KNB. As a Director Robert Kurtzman didn't do a bad job, this film definitely deserved the 18 rating for the Make-up and effects alone, more so then HOUSE. I would not tell you to go out of your way and watch this film, but if you like 90's self referential horror and seeing loads of classic horror actors meet horrific ends in a movie you might enjoy this just for a laugh, plus I’m sure there are some fun drinking games you can have with this film.

Can you guess what comes next?


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