Retro Film Review: Wishmaster (1997)

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Wes Craven is one of the most respected horror film makers of today, mostly due to his bringing horror genre back to mainstream with Scream in 1996. Only a year later Wes Craven's name was associated with the film very like one of those films that had given horror genre such a bad name in the past. He was executive producer of Wishmaster, 1997 horror film directed by Robert Kurtzman.

The script by Peter Atkins draws inspiration from Arabian Nights, some horror classics and Twilight Zone episodes. Beyond our world exists the race of Djinns, nasty, malevolent spirits that destroy people by making their wishes in the nastiest ways possible. In 1127 AD one of them was captured by the wizard at Persian court and imprisoned in the opal. Centuries later, the Djinn (played by Andrew Divoff) is accidentally released in present-day California. When the person that set him free makes three wishes, our world would be invaded by other Djinns. While jewelry expert Alexandra Amberson (played by Tammy Lauren) struggles with that terrible situation, Djinn enjoys himself by wandering the Californian streets, granting wishes to unsuspecting people and wreaking terrible havoc.

Although not particularly original, the premise behind film could have provided film with additional layers - any ambitious film maker could have made this film into allegory about evil and misery having deep roots within human character. Former make-up artist Robert Kurtzman had little interest in that and instead used his directorial debut as an opportunity to show as much realistic gore as possible. The scenes in which various human bodies get burned, mutilated and disembowelled are quite impressive, but all that gorefest gets repetitive after a while. Kurtzman cares very little about script failing to use opportunities for some dark humour or for bad acting. Even such horror movie icons like Kane Hodder, Robert Englund and Tony Todd fail to make much of an impression. The result of all that is an utter disappointment after which horror fans would probably wish for Wes Craven to stop risking his reputation by lending his name to such projects.

RATING: 2/10 (-)

(Note: The text in its original form was posted in Usenet newsgroup on January 21st 2004)

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