Director – Robert Kurtzman
Cast – Tammy Lauren, Andrew Divoff, Robert Englund, Chris Lemmon, Wendy Benson-Landes, Tony Crane, Jenny O’Hara, Kane Hodder, Tony Todd, Ted Raimi, George ‘Buck’ Flower, Dan Hicks, Angus Scrimm(voice)
Release Year – 1997
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Wishmaster has remained one of the genre’s most well-known films since its 1997 debut, whether or not horror fans have seen it. Horror FX maestro Robert Kurtzman made his horror film directing debut with this watch, and thanks to his FX trade as well as a plot we can all relate to we get one of the most fun to watch horror films of the late 90s.
In ancient Persia a powerful Djinn is banished to reside in a rare stone after wreaking havoc throughout a kingdom. His crime? Granting the wishes of those who ask, but with horrible results. Fast forward to present day and Alexandra Amberson, a young gemologist, is assigned to appraise a rare gem collected from an ancient statue purchased by private collector Raymond Beaumont(Robert Englund). While running a scan on the ancient gem the powerful Djinn is unleashed, and all he must do to acquire his full power is grant three wishes to any three individuals, and easy and bloody task.
I really enjoy horror films that incorporate a commonly known element into the plot, and Wishmaster uses one common idea we all grew up relating to…a genie. The Djinn in this film is nothing like the sissy Jafar from Aladin, in that his intentions behind granting someone’s wishes are intensely brutal, and I loved it. The storyline is a bit cheezy, but for a late 90s film it gives the “right” kind of cheese we horror fans always enjoy. The development behind who the Djinn is and the acts he was imprisoned for was awesome, and watching him expertly con anyone who crossed his path into asking him a wish(thus making him stronger) was a well written idea that came with some great gore as well.
Robert Kurtzman’s direction is positive, and it really is quite sad that he has not directed as many films as he should have with the talent he possesses. His sets were well used, his camerawork was great, and his execution throughout the film was great as well. I really loved how he used the Djinn, especially the look of the Djinn which is unlike any genie I have ever seen, and I dug that. Due to Kurtzman’s FX abilities all of the important scenes involving the Djinn were used with live-action effects, and the gore was ever-plentiful and downright awesome as well. I loved the scenes of chaos the Djinn would create, making him the ultimate “party crasher”.
To make things even cooler, we get a slew of horror legends thrown into this flick in small or supporting roles. We get Robert Englund(A Nightmare on Elm Street series) as Raymond Beaumont, Kane Hodder(Friday the 13th part VII, VIII, IX, X, Hatchet), Tony Todd(Night of the Living Dead remake, Candyman, Final Destination, Final Destination 2, Hatchet), Ted Raimi, George ‘Buck’ Fowler(The Fog, Maniac Cop, Pumpkinhead, They Live, Body Bags, Village of the Damned), Dan Hicks(Evil Dead II, Maniac Cop, Intruder, 2001 Maniacs, My Name is Bruce), and Angus Scrimm(Phantasm series, Chopping Mall, I Sell The Dead, ) as the narrator, all giving stellar performances that are sure to please fans of the genre.
Overall, this is a fun and awesome watch that I recommend to fans of cheezy 90s horror. We get great gore and FX, a cool story, and good direction from one of the genre’s FX veterans.