When you think of the concept of a Genie, many things may come to mind. The hilarious Genie from Aladdin voiced by Robin Williams (1992). The gorgeous Jeannie played by Barbara Eden from I Dream of Jeannie (1965-1970). Maybe it’s Shaq in the kid-friendly Kazaam (1996). Or even Jeannie and Babu from the short-lived Hanna-Barbera cartoon, Jeannie (1973). But what if genies weren’t well-intentioned, kindly, and oftentimes comical manifestations that appear from a lamp to grant their so-called “master” three wishes? What if there was something malicious in store for the one who summoned them?
Welcome to the world of Wishmaster. A world where the phrase “Be careful what you wish for” has never been more apt, and in this four film series, what a person wishes for can have very deadly consequences. In fact, deadly, disgusting, and demoralizing are all perfectly accurate words to describe what the evil Djinn has in store for those who seek his services.
If you haven’t guessed by now, Wishmaster is a horror franchise that started in 1997 and spawned three sequels: Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies (1999), Wishmaster 3: Beyond the Gates of Hell (2001); and Wishmaster 4: The Prophecy Fulfilled (2002). Only the original Wishmaster made it to the big screen and was produced by horror master Wes Craven.
The first, like many franchises, is the best of the series with plenty of great practical horror effects, a game cast that includes Tammy Lauren (The Young and the Restless, Martial Law), Robert Englund (the original A Nightmare on Elm Street series), and Andrew Divoff (Lost, Air Force One), and an intriguing storyline with plenty of jumps and scares for horror fans. While it’s also has the shortest runtime of the four, it’s also the best in terms of narrative setup and execution without being too excessive.
Following the law of diminishing returns – as most horror franchises often do – the three movies that follow are not nearly as intriguing, but the basic premise remains the same throughout. I also felt that the films lost the magic and fun that the original had. After Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies, the Djinn is recast with John Novak who does a decent job in the role, but Divoff’s presence is definitely missed.
Now, I can’t place all the blame of the filmmakers. After all, some premises are hard to stretch and prolong for a series of films. Heck, some films can’t even stretch their premise across just one storyline, let alone many. But like the Saw and Final Destination franchises, the characters are less important than the creative manner in which each victim is killed. And if it’s kills you want, this franchise is chock full of ‘em in every manner and method possible. And isn’t that essentially why we watch films like this? It’s not for the acting or the story, it’s for the inevitable blood and gore.
The Wishmaster Collection is a very impressive box set with four films on three Blu-ray discs. There are many, many special features, the bulk of which are for the original film. The full rundown for each film is as follows:
• WISHMASTER SPECIAL FEATURES
o Audio Commentaries:
· Director Robert Kurtzman and screenwriter Peter Atkins
· Director Robert Kurtzman and stars Andrew Divoff and Tammy Lauren
o Isolated Score Selections/Audio Interview with composer Harry Manfredini
o “Out of the Bottle” – Interviews with director Robert Kurtzman and co-producer David Tripet
o “The Magic Words” – An Interview with screenwriter Peter Atkins
o “The Djinn and Alexandra” – Interviews with stars Andrew Divoff and Tammy Lauren
o “Captured Visions” – An Interview with director of photography Jacques Haitkin
o “Wish List” – Interviews with actors Kane Hodder and Ted Raimi
o Vintage Featurette: “Making of Wishmaster”
· Trailers, Spots, Galleries: Teaser & Theatrical Trailers, TV & Radio Spots, Storyboard & Still Galleries
· Behind-the-Scenes Footage Compilation
• WISHMASTER 2: EVIL NEVER DIES SPECIAL FEATURES
o Audio Commentary with writer/director Jack Sholder
o Still Gallery
• WISHMASTER 3: BEYOND THE GATES OF HELL SPECIAL FEATURES
o Audio Commentary with director Chris Angel and cast members John Novak, Jason Connery, and Louisette Geiss
o Vintage Featurette: “Making of Wishmaster 3: Beyond the Gates of Hell”
• WISHMASTER 4: THE PROPHECY FULFILLED SPECIAL FEATURES
o Audio Commentaries:
· Director Chris Angel and cast members Michael Trucco and Jason Thompson
· Director Chris Angel and actor John Novak
o Featurette: “Wishmasterpiece Theatre”
Horror movies are meant to scare and entertain, and sometimes we can learn a lesson or two from those nefarious evildoers who wish to cause the characters harm. Perhaps Wishmaster is a morality play about the dangers of greed and excess in the modern age. Perhaps the Djinn has come to tell the world that even free wishes come at a price; and that price is your soul!
I enjoyed the series, and while the first one was by far the best, the rest were Saturday afternoon escapist fare that was still enjoyable. I recommend the Wishmaster Collection!
The Wishmaster Collection is available now on Blu-ray!
What is your favorite Wishmaster scene or film? Leave a comment and let us know!