1 item from 1997
22 September 1997 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »
It's a safe rule of thumb for genre movies that the longer the scroll of explanatory text that appears before the action begins, the more unendurable the film is likely to be (okay, "Star Wars" is an exception). At the beginning of "Wes Craven Presents Wishmaster" -- which is executive produced by Craven -- the latest horror opus to open sans press screenings, we are greeted with verbiage telling us about the villain to whom we will shortly be introduced. He is the Djinn (it's the same for singular or plural, in case you were wondering), a particularly malevolent genie, not exactly, as one character later advises, Barbara Eden or Mork. If the Djinn is able to grant three wishes, the legend goes, all hell will break loose. Needless to say, it does.
A short prologue set in 12th century provides the first glimpse of the ultraviolent mayhem that the evil genie can produce. The Djinn, as charismatically personified in both human and creature form by actor Andrew Divoff, makes his way to our shores after being unleashed via the accidental destruction of an ancient statue. Soon, he is wandering through the streets of Los Angeles, inducing hapless victims to make wishes so he can turn the tables on them and wreak havoc. His chief object of attention is perky young Alexandra Amberson (Tammy Lauren), who unwittingly awoke him from his centuries-long slumber.
"Wishmaster", like most horror efforts these days, mainly relies on sudden jolts of sound to awaken the audience from its otherwise peaceful slumber, but Peter Atkins' screenplay does contain the occasional bon mot, as the Djinn turns out to be a rather witty raconteur of destruction. But the setups here are not nearly as clever as those in say, the "Nightmare on Elm Street" series, despite Craven's involvement. It does not appear likely that a similar franchise will be born.
To increase the film's marquee value, the cast has been beefed up with several horror stalwarts in supporting roles, including Robert Englund ("Nightmare on Elm Street" films), Tony Todd ("Candyman") and Kane Hodder ("Jason Goes to Hell"). Unfortunately, none of them has much of anything to do, and their presence is mostly wasted. It's too bad, considering that it's been years since horror films have benefited from an all-star stock company.
The chief value to "Wishmaster" is the overtime and bonus pay provided to the legions of makeup and special effects artists, who no doubt rejoice whenever the trade papers announce a new Wes Craven effort. Their hard work here has produced an impressive array of gory dismemberments and horrific-looking creatures, which should easily satisfy the standards of their acne-scarred target audience.
Wes Craven PRESENTS WISHMASTER
Executive producer:Wes Craven
Producers:Pierre David, Clark Peterson, Noel A. Zanitsch
Director of photography:Jacques Haitkin
Alexandra Amberson:Tammy Lauren
Anthony Beaumont:Robert Englund
Johnny Valentine:Tony Todd
Shannon Amberson:Wendy Benson
Nick Merritt:Chris Lemmon
Running time -- 90 minutes
MPAA rating: R
1 item from 1997
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