Wishmaster is a 1997 American horror feature film directed by Robert Kurtzman. It was executive produced by Wes Craven – the only film of the Wishmaster series with his name attached.
The plot of Wishmaster concerns a djinn (evil genie), an omnipotent, supremely evil entity who is released from a jewel and seeks to capture the soul of the woman who discovered him, thereby opening a portal and freeing his fellow djinn to inhabit the earth.
The movie stars Andrew Divoff and Tammy Lauren, and features many actors from other popular horror movies such as A Nightmare on Elm Street, Day of the Dead, and Candyman. Three sequels followed: Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies,Wishmaster 3: Beyond the Gates of Hell, and Wishmaster 4: The Prophecy Fulfilled.
Ahh, ‘Wes Craven Presents’… was there ever such a trademark of poor quality? Whatever Craven’s quality as a horror director – and let’s be honest here, his work was extremely variable – the films that he ‘executive produced’ (or, more cynically, lent his name to in exchange for money) seem to be almost uniformly dreadful. Mind Ripper, the unnecessary Carnival of Souls remake, Dracula 2000 – these are not good movies by any stretch of the imagination. Wishmaster is probably the most successful of the lot, in the sense that is spawned three sequels, but despite everything that is seemingly has going for it – a good screenwriter, a cast of horror icons, a not-awful idea – the film is shockingly poor.
Taking the legend of the djinn into modern-day America, the film sees evil genie Andrew Divoff accidentally set free to start claiming souls through manipulated wishes while searching for the person who released him, Alex (Tammy Laure), so that she can make three wishes and so unleash legions of djinn into the world. Popping up along the way, for no reason other than marquee value, are the likes of Robert Englund (who at least has a fairly substantial role), Tony Todd, Kane Hodder, Joe Pilato, Ted Raimi, narrator Angus Scrimm and other familiar faces, none of whom really add any value to the film, though all of them give better performances than the leads, all of whom apart from Divoff are quite awful.
Peter Atkins’ screenplay feels like a slight variation on his Hellraiser sequels (you could replace the Djinn with Pinhead without having to change much of the story), and feels very much like it was done on auto-pilot – he can do better than this film, which is continually bogged down with clumsy dialogue, badly delivered by unconvincing characters. Director Robert Kurtzman seems more at home with the splattery action scenes than the narrative (unsurprisingly, given his FX background), and saves the film from being a complete disaster with a boffo finale that sees plenty of imaginative gory moments and visual style to spare. But these ten minutes are hardly enough to justify sitting through the previous eighty. If only we could wish this into being a better film…
David Flint, MOV!ES and MAN!A
“Some of the kills are done digitally and they look like sh*t. I think it’s what keeps this movie from being considered a classic. That and I find the lead Tammy Lauren to be incredibly annoying. Also, some of the Djinn’s dialogue is so-so.” Awful Horror Movies
“Wishmaster is low-budget horror fun with plenty of blood and a pleasingly retro feel that’s well worth ninety minutes if you’re in the mood for a dose of light horror from people who know what they’re doing.” House of Mortal Cinema
” …it never quite shakes how hokey it is. It’s apocalyptic in scope, yet most of the movie revolves around the Djinn harassing one woman, and it never escapes its threadbare trappings. Wishmaster seems to herald a bold new icon, but it’s all so silly that you can never seriously consider adding him to the pantheon of the true greats…” Oh, the Horror!
“The new movie is an extravaganza of bad special effects and worse acting. People lose their skins and become gloppy latex freaks, or have mucusy monsters burst from their stomachs, or simply blow up entirely and splatter fake blood hither and yon. Make that yawn.” San Francisco Chronicle
Cast and characters:
- Tammy Lauren as Alexandra Amberson
- Andrew Divoff as The Djinn / Nathaniel Demerest
- Robert Englund as Raymond Beaumont
- Chris Lemmon as Nick Merritt
- Wendy Benson as Shannon Amberson
- Tony Crane as Josh Aickman
- Jenny O’Hara as Wendy Derleth
- Ricco Ross as Lt. Nathanson
- Gretchen Palmer as Ariella
- Angus Scrimm as narrator [voice only]
- George ‘Buck’ Flower as Homeless Man
- Ted Raimi as Ed Finney
- Kane Hodder as Merritt’s guard
- Tony Todd as Johnny Valentine
- Reggie Bannister as Pharmacist
- Gretchen Palmer as Ariella