Wishmaster (1997)

Wishing is natural for human beings. Even at our most satisfied, we could always use more. Contrary to what most religions would have you believe, this is not greed but a good instinct. Constantly striving to better your situation is a good thing. Who in the world does not want a better life than they have right now? For those of us in the lower and middle classes, it is something we are born into. Rich people have the drive to stay on top rather than to achieve but a lot of them also desire even more than they already have. Where we get in trouble is wishing for things that we do not realize that we should not have or do not actually want. For example, I have spoken to people who wanted to achieve something because they were expected to achieve it and were dissatisfied when they got it. Some people get married and then realized they were gay or the relationship was built on an illusion. Some people get a job because it was their parents’ dream and then realize that they did not actually share the dream.

Similarly, anger and frustration are natural feelings. Living in a society, we are forced to interact with so many people. Many of them we probably would not talk to given the choice. Sometimes that works out but sometimes that really goes south. Polite society dictates that we keep negative thoughts about people to ourselves instead of letting them slip out. So at any moment during, before, or after these interactions, we have errant thoughts running through our heads. I used to have a much bigger problem with this before I started taking anxiety medication which cut down on my flight or fight instinct. I would have little thoughts like when a noisy kid was running around a store while I was ordering. I would think “I’d like to throw that kid like a frisbee out the door”. I did not really mean it, it was just something to focus my anxiety and anger on instead of actually acting. We do not mean thoughts like these and they are completely natural. When we act is when they become wrong.

The first thing I noticed was how much I liked the special effects for a late nineties movie. There are a lot of surreal moments in this movie in the tradition of earlier movies like the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise and Leprechaun. I do not think it spoils much to say that the villain is a djinn. When you have a villain who can magically alter reality, things are going to be weird. Still, I was surprised at how innovative a lot of the deaths were coupled with some great practical and digital effects. As expected, the movie kind of subverted the usual pop culture depiction of the ‘genie’ which horror is pretty good at doing. Similar to The Mummy, the villain spends time both in human form and in monster form which allows for unexpected scenes. The pacing is also pretty good and the action barely stops nor are there a lot of tangents.

One of the things that really attracted me to this movie was the cast. The first name that grabbed my attention was the legendary Robert Englund (Freddy himself) who does a good job playing a complete jerk. The next name that popped for me was Tony Todd (Candyman himself) who only plays a minor part. Finally, I recognized the name of Kane Hodder (Jason himself in 4 films) who plays a minor but imposing role. Then I looked into it further and found the following: Angus Scrimm (Phantasm), Reggie Bannister (Phantasm), and Ted Raimi (A lot of Things) among a ton of other actors from other horror movies. It was like the movie is filmed at a horror convention (in a good way). Andrew Divoff is very imposing and easy to hate as the title character. Tammy Lauren does a pretty good job as the movie’s protagonist, a gem expert who becomes the obsession of the djinn. She had very little experience in a lead role but really hit it out of the park.

Overall, I really liked this horror movie and I am excited to see its sequels. The deaths were innovative and exciting and the suspense really worked for me. The movie does not get bogged down with any real nonsense and keeps a good pace which helps keep the fear going. We also get some really good body horror moments which I should have expected but I did not. On top of that, they really could have gone heavy into cultural appropriation with a middle eastern monster in White America but it really worked.


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One Response to “Wishmaster (1997)”

  1. Media Update 3/31/22 | Wolf of Words Says:

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