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Title: Wishmaster Collection

Movie: :3stars:
Video: :4stars:
Audio: :3.5stars:
Extras: :4stars:

HTS Overall Score:73


Ahhh genies and Djinn. Those happy little things that grant you three wishes. What better memory of Robin Williams do we have then his stint as the famed Djinn in the lamp? I mean, aren’t they all fun loving and all powerful creatures that just grant wishes? Well, not exactly. The original tale of the Djinn (shortened and twisted to be Genie after a while) were of horrifying monsters that would grant wishes, but only out of necessity due to being enslaved to an object and usually the stories of the Djinn were used to act as terrifying lessons for those who wanted something the easy way. Well 20 years ago this September Lionsgate and Artisan films came together with Wes Craven and Director Robert Kurtzman (who was most well-known for his special effects and makeup work) to create the “Wishmaster”. It was evil, delicious and while not wildly profitable (I believe it was made for about $15 million), “Wishmaster” was a modest success that spawned three sequels and established Andrew Divoff as another cult horror villain. Now, after years and years of languishing in the world of DVD, Lionsgate is bringing forth the entire franchise in the Vestron Video lineup of collector’s editions with a really nice triple disc set for fans.

Wishmaster :3.5stars:
“Wishmaster” was every horror fan’s dream come true. I had everyone who was anyone in the business involved in the production. Wes Craven, Robert Kurtzman, Robert Englund (best known as Freddy Kruegger), Kane Hodder, Tony Todd, Reggie Bannister, Ted Raimi, Peter Atkins in the writing department. It was one of those 90s conglomerations of talent that wouldn’t happen in today’s horror world. I’ve long since waxed eloquent on how I love 80s horror films, but the 90s had their place as well, and “Wishmaster” was one of those passion projects from the horror community that just still lives as a truly awesome bit of nostalgia.

The film opens up with a little tale about the Djinn and their evil past. Monstrous demons who would grant you WHATEVER wish you desired, but in doing so they wouldn’t always make it as “nice” as our mind would think up. The human language is complex and wishing for something can be taken in many different ways. However, the Djinn do have a weakness. They can be trapped in the nether realm if someone binds them to an object, and in this case, a giant ruby. Fast forward thousands of years and this ruby has made its way to the United states. In a drastic “drinking on the job” accident the ruby ends up in the hands of Alexandra Amberson (Tammy Lauren) who accidentally awakens the evil Djinn (Andrew Divoff). Free from his torment, the Djinn begins to grant wishes to those around him, but in doing so those wishes unleash their greatest nightmares.

While this is all fun and games, the real end game is Alexandra. With her being the “waker” the Djinn has to grant her three wishes. Wishes that that once all three are granted will allow the opening of the worlds and free the Djinn and his brethren to walk free upon the earth. So naturally our murderous demon is “hell” bent on making sure Alexandra completes those three wishes. Whether by hook or by crook.

“Wishmaster isn’t exactly a brilliant film, but it takes a fun look at Persian/Middle Eastern mythology and has devilish glee with bringing the monsters to life. Most everyone is having a blast in the flick, with obvious reveling done by Kane Hodder, Robert Englund and Raimi. It’s a veritable who’s who of the horror film genre and they just had FUN with the concept. Andrew Divoff just chews up the scenery with his overacting, but it’s so much hilarious fun that you can’t help but love his portrayal as the Djinn himself. The gravelly voice and modified synthetic twist to it in his demon form made him a horror icon. Sadly not as great as Michael, Freddy, Candyman etc, but an Icon nonetheless.

Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies :3stars:
“Wishmaster” was the only one of the franchise that got a theatrical release, but the enthusiasm for the project hadn’t waned much since 1997. Two years later it was given a sequel with “Wishmaster: Evil Never Dies”. Andrew Divoff once again donned the mantle of the prosthetics laden Djinn and is back for another round. The famed ruby gets stolen from the museum during a robbery from a trio of thieves including a woman named Morgana (Holly Fields, who shares a striking resemblance to a young Wynona Ryder). In the process our favorite friend is released once more and is off to try and complete his mission of acquiring a thousand souls necessary to free himself (hmm, even though the concept of the three wishes granting him freedom also comes into play during the film). Now, Morgana is aware of his murderous appetites and, being that she is the waker, is inexorably bound to the demon while he completes his quest.

Like usual there’s not much to the story. The Djinn goes around granting twisted wishes to his victims, torturing them with their own words, and the audience laps it up like a kitty to a saucer of milk. The Djinn still needs three wishes (or a thousand souls) from Morgana and everything he does is in an effort to get that third wish. But, much like the first film, that third wish may end up undoing his entire strategy.

The sequel is basically a retelling of the first movie, just in a different setting. The Djinn is released, he starts tearing apart the world piece by piece in his “is that what you wish for?” method. This time it’s Morgana instead of Alexandra, and he’s after 800 more souls to get out. Interestingly enough the movies end in the same way really. The heroine wishes something undone that actually created the opportunity for the Djinn to get out. In the first movie it was Alexandra wishing that the dock worker who accidentally unearthed the stone wouldn’t have done what he did, and this time it’s that the person Morgana killed would be alive so she could be pure of heart once more (yeah, I know, it’s kind of trite but it works in the context of the film). Another oddity is Andrew Divoff taking the same face as the first movie. The Djinn can magically transform into anyone he likes by cutting off their face and putting it on their own (and the magic does the rest). In the first movie it made sense because he cut off the guard’s face and used it to get around unseen. In the second movie that guy is dead, and he magically can take the SAME face? Weird little inconsistency, but aw well, what did you expect.

As a sequel, “Wishmaster 2” is not half bad. The passion is still there and Andrew gives it a devilish charm that is intoxicating. Plus, it was great to see practical effects in a world that had moved onto special effects and CGI laden slashers once again. “Scream”, “I know what you did last summer” and the like were the dominate form of horror film at the turn of the century, so heavy prosthetic and practical effects use was a dying art form. One that made the film feel all the more authentic. I could tell that the charm was dying with this one, but it still was a fun horror flick that was more than enjoyable.

Wishmaster 3: Beyond the Gates of Hell :2.5stars:
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand we knew it would happen sooner or later. This is the point in the franchise where it starts spiraling downhill. We’d already had a good first movie and a worthy successor, but now you have to start mixing things up or you just have endless sequels with the same storyline of the Djinn coming and getting defeated. Well, I do give them props for changing things up a LITTLE bit, but it turns the whole story into a joke and the series morphs more and more into being another “Leprechaun” movie, just without Warwick Davis.

This time we have a cute coed named Diana (A.J. Cook) who unwittingly unleashes the Djinn out of his little crystal once more. However, with Andrew Divoff gone from the production, we don’t have the same charm and “fun” that he gave to the previous two films. Thus the demon (now played by John Novak) has to inhabit the body of one of Diana’s professors in order to blend in with the rest of the world. Like usual, the professor REALLY wants Diana to make those three wishes and he’ll cut through just about anyone in order to get to her.

Diana is a bit of an interesting heroine. She’s suffering from PTSD and depression after her parents were murdered as a child, so a girl talking about an evil Djinn and spiritual things coming to get her seems a bit strange to her boyfriend Greg (Tobias Mehler) and her friends. However, it’s not long before the Djinn starts granting wishes and racking up the body count for at least Greg to get on board. Sadly it’s not as easy as just wishing the inciting incident away this go around. Diana takes a different approach by summoning the spirit of Michael the Archangel to defeat the demon. Something that at least slows him down enough until she can figure out another way to end the monstrosity.

Andrew Divoff’s departure from the franchise really hampered it in my opinion. John Novak as the Djinn is nowhere near as devilish and the prosthetics used feel cheaper and more “chintzy” this go around. I will have to fully admit that while “Wishmaster” and “Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies” were a lot of fun, they were mostly made enjoyable by Andrew Divoff and some great practical effects. The acting was abysmal like most other horror flicks. Without Divoff as the lead the poor acting and incredulously stupid actions by the teenagers makes the crummy storytelling all the more obvious.

Wishmaster 4: The Prophecy Fulfilled :2stars:
There comes a time when even a crummy DTV movie is enough to put the final nail in the coffin. “Wishmaster 3” was a crummy horror flick, but this one was the death knell for the series. The whole franchise was made in the span of 5 years, but “Wishmaster 4: The Prophecy Fulfilled” was out in less than a year after the 3rd one hit the scene. Not exactly going for script of the year there when you have writing/directing/shooting/editing all done in under 11 months. Well, it’s not much of a surprise when “Wishmaster 4” turned out to be an utter abomination, even for this series.

Once again a couple of young people, a woman being at the forefront” opens up the little old ruby and voila, Djinn on earth ready to tear everything apart to get to his three wishes. Now it Lisa (Tara Spencer-Nairn) who is living with her disabled husband trying so desperately to win a damages lawsuit for an accident he had a short while back. Her husband Sam (Jason Thompson) is bitter and angry at life, pushing Lisa away at every turn and right into the arms of her lawyer Steven Verdel (a pre “Battlestar Galactica” Michael Trucco). When Steven gives Lisa a gift of a “ruby” we all know what’s coming. Out pops the Djinn and he’s off to make sure that Lisa requests her three wishes.

Like usual he makes mincemeat of everyone around him and steals their souls in the process, but here he actually GETS his third wish request. Lisa wants to love Steven as he really is, a pardox as love can only be given. It can’t be granted as a wish by the Djinn. And since the Djinn is occupying the body of Steven at the moment that means Lisa has to GRANT her love to him in order the Djinn to grant the request. That means he’s kind of at an impasse here unless he can somehow manipulate Lisa into loving him. With the third wish given, but not granted, Heaven has a contingency plan in mind. A “hunter” (played by a baby faced Victor Webster) has been dispatched to kill the Djinn, and the Djinn’s own brethren are chomping at the bit to get out and cause trouble in the human realm.

The rest of the movie turns out to be a giant “what the blue blazes?” jumble of scenes where the Djinn is half in love with Lisa and figuring out a way to have her love him back. The end result is like an HBO or Skinemax late night erotic thriller where the budget is about on par with my house payment for the month. It’s laughably bad and even as a fan of the previous “Wishmaster” movies I have to bang my head against the wall in horror. Michael Trucco hams it up incredibly well, but his “charm” that he had in “Battlestar Galactica” is not there and John Novak still can’t make a very intimidating Djinn. Victor Webster is only in the movie 10 minutes before getting offed, and director Chris Angel (who directed the 3rd movie as well) can’t seem to do much with the ludicrous plot lines.


R for horror violence and gore, and for language.

Video :4stars:


Wishmaster :4stars:
The first “Wishmaster” is probably the best looking of the encodes, and that is probably due to the fact that it had the highest budget being the only theatrical release of the lot. I’m guessing there’s been a FAIRLY recent scan, as it looks heaps better than the grungy looking DVD I have lying around from the old Lionsgate set. Colors are fairly warm and there’s a goodly amount of detail on the screen. Grain levels are a bit thicker due to the 90s film stock used, and there’s a few speckles and flecks on the print, but otherwise it looks to be in great shape. Honestly, the nasty little genie movie has never looked this good and I ALMOST hesitate in giving it a 4/5 rating. The thing is hovering on a 4.5/5 but JUST not there all the way. Black levels are good, and there’s very little artifacting besides some obligatory crush in some of the deepest shadows and a glimpse of banding in one scene.

Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies :4stars:
There is supposedly a 5.0 track on the second disc, but for some reason it is showing up as a 5.1 track on my receivers (tested on two different systems), although I wouldn’t be surprised if it IS just a glitch in the encoding process as I didn’t hear much activity that would activate the subs. Once again, dialog is a bit muddy, and feels like it’s squashed by the rest of the track. There’s a nice aggressive feel to the mix and Divoff’s deep voice makes for a menacing sensation in the recording. Surrounds get a decent workout with the craziness at the casino, as well as when Morgana and Eric get transported to the Djinn realm, but there is still a distinctly front heavy vibe to the mix.

Wishmaster 3: Beyond the Gates of Hell :3.5stars:
“Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies” was the first of the sequels, and also the first of the series that went straight to DVD. Well, “Wishmaster” was never a big budget film so the sequel naturally looks rather good as well. The fine detail actually looks a little bit crisper and more defined on this one, but there’s also some smoothness to the image that comes from the late 90s special effects. Grain is pretty intense in the darker sequences, but in the daylight, it cleans up quite nicely. Blacks are deep and inky and I didn’t notice any crush or banding in this watch. If I had to differentiate I’d say that while I give a 4/5 rating for both “Wishmaster” and “Wishmaster 2”, “Wishmaster 2” is on the lower side of that 4 star rating while “Wishmaster” is on the upper end.

Wishmaster 4: The Prophecy Fulfilled :4stars:
Being the newest of the 4 films (although all 4 were shot in a 5 year period so it’s not like there’s a significant age difference here), “Wishmaster 4: The Prophecy Fulfilled” has a rather clean look to it. Colors are well saturated and the image has a cleanness to it that belies the DTV filmography. There’s nothing wildly new or fresh about the look. Darks still play a heavy role, but like the last film the red push is mostly gone expect for the ruby crystal that our nasty friend always come out of. The grading of the film looks a bit neutral for the most part and doesn’t carry a whole lot of pop, but black levels are deep and inky without being overly grainy or crushed, and the artifacting is almost nonexistent.

Audio :3.5stars:

Wishmaster :3.5stars:
The box and press release listed “Wishaster” as coming with a 5.1 mix, but in reality, it is a 2.0 DTS-HD MA track. Of course, we would have loved to have gotten a 5.1 track, but the 2.0 track does the job rather well. The track is fairly aggressive and loud, but I did notice that dialog felt a bit squashed and some of the lower end vocals sounded a bit boomy. Something which makes Andrew Divoff’s gravely Wishmaster voice sound all the more menacing. Low end effects are minimal, but there are a few crashes and booms to keep the track hopping.

Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies :3.5stars:
There is supposedly a 5.0 track on the second disc, but for some reason it is showing up as a 5.1 track on my receivers (tested on two different systems), although I wouldn’t be surprised if it IS just a glitch in the encoding process as I didn’t hear much activity that would activate the subs. Once again, dialog is a bit muddy, and feels like it’s squashed by the rest of the track. There’s a nice aggressive feel to the mix and Divoff’s deep voice makes for a menacing sensation in the recording. Surrounds get a decent workout with the craziness at the casino, as well as when Morgana and Eric get transported to the Djinn realm, but there is still a distinctly front heavy vibe to the mix.

Wishmaster 3: Beyond the Gates of Hell :3.5stars:
“Wishamaster 3: Beyond the Gates of Hell” goes back to a 2.0 mix like the first film and really is just an ok track. The spacing in the mix is adequate and the does the job rather well, but without any pomp or fanfare. The dialog is still a bit muddy, but decidedly cleaner and more crisp this go around (although I really do miss Andrew Divoff’s voice for the Djinn Wishmaster). There’s some low end effects here and there and the imaging in the two mains make for a satisfactory listening experience.

Wishmaster 4: The Prophecy Fulfilled :3.5stars:
And like a yo-yo we go back to a multi-channel track for the 4th film, this time a full-fledged 5.1 mix. For a 5.1 mix it’s actually a pretty weak sounding track. Most of the heavy lifting is still done in the front three speakers and LFE is minimal at best. The DTV nature of the low budget horror flick shows the cracks in its armor big time and while there’s nothing horrible about the mix, it just doesn’t differentiate itself that much from the 2.0 and 5.0 tracks that came before it. Imaging in the front two speakers are decent enough, vocals are the MOST impressive of the 4 films but the surrounds really don’t get a whole lot to work with here. Solid, but nothing spectacular.

Extras: :4stars:
• Audio Commentaries:
- Director Robert Kurtzman and screenwriter Peter Atkins
- Director Robert Kurtzman and stars Andrew Divoff and Tammy Lauren
• Isolated Score Selections/Audio Interview with composer Harry Manfredini
• Featurettes
- “Out of the Bottle” - Interviews with director Robert Kurtzman and co-producer David Tripet
- “The Magic Words” – An Interview with screenwriter Peter Atkins
- “The Djinn and Alexandra” – Interviews with stars Andrew Divoff and Tammy Lauren
- “Captured Visions” – An Interview with director of photography Jacques Haitkin
- “Wish List” – Interviews with actors Kane Hodder and Ted Raimi
• Vintage Featurette: “Making of Wishmaster”
• Trailers, Spots, Galleries: Teaser & Theatrical Trailers, TV & Radio Spots, Storyboard & Still Galleries
• Behind-the-Scenes Footage Compilation
Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies
• Audio Commentary with writer/director Jack Sholder
• Trailer
• Still Gallery
Wishmaster 3: Beyond the Gates of Hell
• Audio Commentary with director Chris Angel and cast members John Novak, Jason Connery, and Louisette Geiss
• Vintage Featurette: “Making of Wishmaster 3: Beyond the Gates of Hell”
• Trailer
Wishmaster 4: The Prophecy Fulfilled
• Audio Commentaries:
- Director Chris Angel and cast members Michael Trucco and Jason Thompson
- Director Chris Angel and actor John Novak
• Featurette: “Wishmasterpiece Theatre”
• Trailer

Overall: :3.5stars:

The “Wishmaster” series kind of reminds me of the ‘Species” franchise (also a four-film series ironically). The first film is a classic genre film made for the fans, and the sequel even has quite a lot of heart to it. Sadly the last two films are nothing but DTV schlock and are pretty much only for the hardcore fans. Still, this collection hasn’t ever been released before on Blu-ray and the TLC that Lionsgate gave to the series is more than I would have expected. Lots of good extras, healthy doses of commentaries, and some nice packaging. Even the price is outstanding coming from the Vestron Video line that Lionsgate is releasing. Usually the Vestron Video films are about $22-$26 street price for a single film, but all four films in this collection are only about $38 on amazon, making them less than $10 per movie! My only real complaint comes from the fact that the movies don’t look like they’ve gotten a brand new 2K or 4K master in a while, and that the last 2 films are put on one single Dual Layer BD-50 instead of given their own discs (something which really isn’t a big deal, but for collector’s and collector’s editions those little things mean something). A solid collection of tasty gooey horror morsels in one set and while the first two films are the real pull, I definitely think it’s worth nabbing.

Additional Information:

Starring: Tammy Lauren, Andrew Divoff, Robert Englund, Holly Fields, Chris Weber, A.J. Cook, Tara Spencer-Nairn, Michael Trucco
Directed by: Robert Kurtzman : Jack Sholder : Chris Angel : Chris Angel
Written by: Peter Atkins : Peter Atkins, Jack Sholder : Peter Atkins, Alex Wright : John Benjamin Martin, Peter Atkins
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC / 1.85:1 AVC / 1.85:1 AVC / 1.85:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1 (Wishmaster 4), English DTS-HD MA 2.0 (3 and 4), English DTS-HD MA 5.0 (Wishmaster 2)
Studio: Lionsgate
Rated: R (all 4)
Runtime: 90 minutes : 96 minutes : 92 minutes 92 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: March 28th, 2017

Buy Wishmaster Collection Blu-ray on Amazon

Recommendation: Recommended

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