The original Wishmaster is not for everybody, and it is far from a perfect movie, but it is the kind of movie that is made especially for diehard horror fans. This movie probably should have been standalone, but like all things, in Hollywood, it made enough money to justify not one, but four sequels. The thing that is unique about the Wishmaster sequels is that, unlike other horror sequels which jump around in quality, each Wishmaster sequel took a significant step down in quality and continuity. To elaborate on that point, I have written a short review of each movie showcasing the downward slope.
The idea behind Wishmaster is an original one that extends far behind the idea of being a star vehicle for some of horror’s biggest faces. The movie is about an ancient evil called the Djinn who ruled the earth before organized religion. One particular Djinn was trapped for centuries in an ancient stone, leaving his world trapped in limbo. For his world to merge with ours and rule again, he needs his waker to make three wishes. That is not the only caveat. However, the Djinn must also collect a number of souls to make the shift happen. Being an evil being, the Djinn uses trickery to collect his souls by promising the grant a single wish in turn for the wisher’s soul; these wishes always comes with consequences.
When Alexandra accidentally releases the Djinn, her personal life starts to fall apart. People close to her are starting to die, and her sister may be next. It is up to Alexandra to figure out how to defeat the Djinn and save those closest to her. Though the movie is a little cheesy, the story isn’t terrible and the ending is satisfactory. In this movie, the cast is who is important.
Whoever made this movie must have some great Hollywood connections because it is like and I Spy of horror icons. Robert Englund, Kane Hodder, Tony Todd, Jenny O’Hara, and Ted Raimi are just a few of the faces that you will recognize in this movie. This film perfectly encapsulated late ‘90s horror and earned a spot in the horror lexicon; then they went and ruined it with sequels.
Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies
As far as sequels go, this is not the worst one I have ever seen. They did their best to keep the continuity of the series by having the gem that traps the Djinn fall out of the same statue that has ended up in a museum. During a failed robbery, Morgana knocks over the statue, releasing the Djinn and threatening our world once again. Now it is up to Morgana to set things right in the world with the help of someone from her past.
Unlike the original Wishmaster, there are no cameos that horror fans will love. The story is also a lot flimsier than the original, and the production quality is noticeably worse. The ending of this film, although earnest, is downright ridiculous. They somehow find the incantation that it takes to trap the Djinn back in his stone, but it takes a woman pure of heart to read it. Morgana wishes that she had never killed a man, which the Wishmaster grants and this somehow makes Morgana the bank robber pure of heart. This movie is not unwatchable, but it is a definite departure from the original film.
Wishmaster 3: Beyond the Gates of Hell
This is where the Wishmaster series jumped the shark. The series did not get back Andrew Divoff, who played the Wishmaster in human and Djinn form through the first two movies. Wishmaster 3 gets a new actor to play the Djinn, which is painfully obvious, and with the new Djinn comes a new human form played by a separate actor. The production quality of this film is even lower than the second installment, but that is the least of their woes.
The story is almost unintelligible and completely disregards the canon that fans of the series had come to know. We spent two films being told that “you can’t kill that which is eternal,” then this movie comes along and says, “sure you can kill the Djinn.” A college inexplicably comes into possession of the gem holding the Djinn, and he is once again let loose by an unassuming female. This time, instead of trying to go back to before the Djinn was released or trap in back in its prison, the main character invokes the spirit of the Archangel Michael to help her defeat the Djinn.
This movie leaves fans of the series scratching their heads and wondering how they can get an hour and a half of their life back. Don’t worry, though; Artisan took one more crack at ruining the franchise for everyone.
Wishmaster 4: The Prophecy Fulfilled
If you thought the third installment in the franchise sounded bad, you have got to see this last one. Any aspect of continuity that the movies held onto is completely wiped away in Wishmaster 4. The only thing that they do keep contiguous is that the Djinn is awoken by a female. How does she get the stone? Her boyfriend’s lawyer gives it to her as a gift, duh. Then the Djinn takes the form of her boyfriend’s lawyer.
Unlike other movies, he does not choose to reveal himself as the Djinn and instead uses his looks to trick her into making her three wishes. When she finally makes her third wish it seems as though the world is set to end, but it turns out that the Djinn has fallen in love with his waker and refuses to grant her third wish, citing that she has created a paradox by wishing for something that only she can grant. They again ignore the fact that a Djinn can’t die and use a sword to kill him.
There are so many components to this movie that just don’t make any sense like the fact that a “hunter” is released to kill Lisa before her third wish can be granted; something that we didn’t see in any other Wishmaster movie. Then there is the fact that the Djinn is talking to other Djinns in his home realm, something that is unprecedented in the series and doesn’t make any sense in this movie. It is no wonder that this film killed the franchise completely because it barely belongs in the franchise the way it is.
The Wishmaster series may be far from perfect, but it is still a fun one to revisit every once in a while. There is no better time than now with the new Bluray box set being released. Hopefully, if enough people buy the box set, Lionsgate will see that there is still an interest in this franchise and reboot it for old fans and new generations.