Robert Kurtzman’s Wishmaster was made with the avid horror fan in mind, but it is a film that largely flew under the radar at the time of its release. And that’s why I’m here, to campaign on behalf of this often under-appreciated horror flick. The film features a brilliant villain: What might have been a perfect gothic tale of the innermost desires of man ended up being a sadistic twist of wordplay for otherwise unsuspecting victims.
In spite of being overlooked, Wishmaster has a lot going for it, namely the cast of horror all-stars and nothing short of amazing and creative sequences of brutal carnage.
So, where did it trip up? Was it production issues, or audience reception, or a little of both? Well, the film does have narrative problems, offending its own laws as it goes. As the Djinn makes clear, he will grant a wish, in exchange for a soul. However, on more than one occasion, he grants two or more. The Djinn is supposedly bound by this rule, but apparently has the ability to bend the laws or even outright ignore the restrictions of his own power, which then removes any and all challenges for him to succeed. This can become a little tedious at times but is more than made up for by the film’s various strengths.
There were also a number of other noteworthy horror films released in 1997 that may have overshadowed the film. That year also saw the release of I Know What You Did Last Summer, Scream 2, Event Horizon, The Devil’s Advocate, Cube, Mimic, and more. So, it’s possible that Wishmaster got lost in the shuffle by being a little different from a lot of the films that were being released at that time and also going up against some pretty steep competition.
The Djinn was portrayed brilliantly by Andrew Divoff, who brought the character to life in an unforgettable way, conveying the Djinn’s expressions and mannerisms through his human form of Nathaniel Demerest. Divoff has said he enjoyed the role very much, having only portrayed the Djinn in two of the four films, and has expressed interest in reprising his role. Having gone so far as to have penned his own script for what was meant to be part 3.
Wishmaster boasts an amazing cast of genre regulars: Tony Todd, Angus Scrimm, Kane Hodder, Reggie Bannister, and Robert Englund to name a few. Being presented by Wes Craven, it’s hard to fully understand why this movie didn’t reach a wider audience upon its initial release. For a creature that managed to best Freddy, Jason, and The Candyman in the same film, tell me the Djinn doesn’t deserve a seat at that table.