body horror

[Movie Review] Wishmaster (1997) ★★★★☆

The Djinn in Wishmaster 1997

Wishmaster is a slasher fantasy delight with the most fanciful practical effects. 


Wishmaster is a fantasy horror film with slasher elements and gruesome practical effects. With a solid story, a solid structure, and delightful cheesy dialogue, the emphasis is on the gory fantasy aspects of the most gruesome and fantastical imaginative deaths. The practical effects throw a big party and mixes this fantasy slasher with graphic cosmic horror, turning this cheesy film into something highly entertaining with a nostalgic feel. 


Plot

When an ancient statue of Ahura Mazda is bought by wealthy collector Raymond Beaumont, a freak accident happens and exposes a red opal inside the head of the statue. One of the dockworkers slyly steals it and sells it, whereas it falls into the hands of Nick Merritt who lets it get appraised by Alex Amberson. When she rubs it clean and breathes on it, she accidentally sets free a Djinn who has been imprisoned in the opal since 1127. 

Now he is set free, he gains souls by granting people’s wishes, which don’t turn out quite how they imagined it. But his main goal is to free his kind from the void between the worlds to enslave the earth. To accomplish this, the person who freed him has to make three wishes. Now Alex has to outsmart the Djinn, who has left a whole pile of gruesomely slain bodies in his trail, to stop him and to save the people she loves.


Why you should watch it

Wishmaster is a delightful cheesy story, that revels in its own slyness and gruesomeness. With a simple and solid premise, the Djinn can perform the most imaginative and gruesome deaths by tricking people into making a wish. The tagline comes down to ‘be careful what you wish for’ but the execution is a slasher delight. The practical effects, the original and imaginative ways people are getting killed, are the big features of this film. 

It starts out at a party in 1127, where the Djinn has granted a wish and turns the party in the most memorable of the ages. People get slashed and hacked very originally, they turn into lizard creatures, tree creatures and their skeletons rise from their bodies. It’s really a hell of a party and this is repeated in an even more exciting fantastical way in the last battle between Alex and the Djinn. 

But in the meantime, the Djinn entertains himself with the most gory and original granting of wishes. It’s a slasher fantasy feast that makes this film worth a watch.

Alex is the heroine of the story and takes full responsibility in freeing the Djinn and to stop him. She’s smart, she’s athletic, educated, brave and once saved her younger sister from a fire, whereby her parents died. That is also the backstory to define her character. While she managed to save her sister she feels she has failed her parents and feels guilty. But this trauma doesn’t get further elaborated. It only shows how determined and strong she is. And she therefore makes a great adversary for the Djinn, who’s all too cocky and arrogant.

But the practical effects steal the show. They’re gory, oozy, bloody and sticky and are shown with great delight. Monsters with tentacles, give it even a cosmic feel and the graphic practical gore is a throwback to the eighties. The Djinn himself is wonderfully designed and is very detailed. His conjured creations are evenly imaginative and the mayhem he causes feels like an action sequence of a horror fantasy series. It’s all very entertaining and there’s much going on and to see and to enjoy. 

And with horror legends like Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street 1984), Tony Todd (Candyman, 1992) and familiar face Ted Raimi (Ash vs Evil Dead), and Angus Scrimm (Phantasm, 1979) as the narrator, it’s the cherry on the pie. 


My favorite part

The practical effects are wonderful to watch and with parties to die for, one at the beginning and the one at the end, that show so many practical gory goodness that you don’t even know where to look. It’s like a ride in an amusement park with all the wonderful creations that rush you by. It’s detailed and gory and bloody and gooey and gross and imaginative and a little horror feast. But the sequences inside the opal are great too and turn the film into more cosmic horror with hell as it’s guide into damnation. For the practical and special effects alone, this film is great fun. Add to this a strong woman as the lead character and a cheesy villain and it’s a great way to spent your time. 


Ratings

Rating: ★★★★☆

Gore factor: ★★★★★

Popcorn factor: ★★★★★

Gruesome factor: ★★★★☆

Originality factor: ★★★★★

Entertainment factor: ★★★★★


Cast and crew

Wishmaster is directed by Robert Kurzman and written by Peter Atkins. It stars Tammy Lauren (Alex Amberson), Andrew Divoff (The Djinn/Nathaniel Demerest), Robert Englund (Raymond Beaumont), Chris Lemmon (Nick Merritt), Wendy Benson (Shannon Amberson) and Jenny O’Hara (Wendy Derleth).

Duration: 90 minutes. Music: Harry Manfredini. Cinematography: Jacques Haitkin. Edited by: David Handman. Produced by: Wes Craven, Pierre David, Clark Peterson, Noël A. Zanitsch. Production companies: Image Organization, Pierre David. Distributed by: Live Film & Mediaworks Inc.


Check the trailer below


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