Twenty years ago this September launched a little horror series called Wishmaster. Back when a horror movie could do over fifteen million at the box office and be considered a success, that’s what this was. While coming post-Scream, it was before the effects and wave had taken over (That would come a month later with I Know What You Did Last Summer). In a way, it made the monster one the last one of an era before the Scream-like slashers would take over in iconography before the remakes and Jigsaw carried on from there. Wishmaster did spawn three sequels in a 5 years run from 1997-2002, but none of them ever found major theatrical release (Straight to video in the US). The series and character of the Wishmaster has lied dormant ever since, yet to make a return, but who knows, maybe this set will spark an interest or drum up nostalgia or a new fanbase for the little underground cult series.
Magically powerful. Supernaturally evil. The ancient entity known in human legend as the Djinn can grant a person’s wildest dreams. And in the process, it unleashes your darkest nightmares. The moral of this explosively terrifying, special-effects-powered, horror-fantasy spectacular; Be careful what you wish for!
Wow, I never realized at the time, but man oh man was Wishmaster the ultimate Fangoria fan movie of the entire decade (The 90s). Heck it would’ve been for the 1980s as well. If you look at the list of people involved with this movie, you’d almost feel like you were at a Weekend of Horrors convention. Everyone who was anybody for those in the know in horror showed up. Hell, the opening narration is done by Angus Scrimm and a random drunk construction worker is none other than Rhodes from Day of the Dead. It starts with this being the 2nd film (1st horror) directed by Make-up effects wizard Robert Kurtzman who also brings his KNB brethren on board from a script by Peter Atkins (Hellraiser 2-4). Now just look at this roster of a supporting cast from supporting roles to cameos; Robert Englund, Kane Hodder, Tony Todd (Yes, that just read Freddy, Jason, Candyman), Reggie Bannister, Ted Raimi, Joseph Pilato. Now have it scored by Harry Manfredini and then slap Wes Craven presents on it. Seriously…is there a bigger fan dream (On paper) than this?
Did it wind up being an all time classic? Nope, not really even close. Wishmaster very much falls in the realm of typical 90s horror, but its on the better side of it. The film isn’t scary, but I do think its a pretty good bit of fun and has a the right sense of camp. It features a load of special effects that will gross out and impress along the way. The make-up and design of the Djinn is also pretty cool, too. And, the film pulls from a unique background and manages to deliver a bit of settings and vibes not really found in a lot of its colleagues of the time or from the years prior to it.
Making Wishmaster all wort the while is Andrew Divoff as the Djinn. A man with a ton of credits and character acting gigs to his name, this is his pinnacle role. And he chews it up. He’s both devious, fun and vile. Its all played with such devotion and commitment. You can tell Divoff is having a load of fun playing the role. In a film featuring lots of horror legends and vets with staple and iconic characters to their own name, Divoff is carving his own niche and memory right in front of all of them. Its a definite welcome to the table by the end of it. The Djinn may not be the greatest ever even for his decade, but Divoff makes him a worthy monster in the vein of Freddy Krueger to have been given more than one movie.
Wishmaster isn’t high art, nor is it high horrors, but very fun at times the movie can be. What carries this movie well is a mixture of effects, action, Andrew Divoff, the Expendables-level horror cast and a campy monster. Its not a long movie and it doesn’t really find time to drag too much. With years removed and looking back, its a much more pleasant watch with no stakes and finding appreciation in other areas.
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Clarity/Detail: Wishmaster makes its Blu-ray debut with a really crisp and clean looking picture. Sometimes 1990s movies don’t come over too, but this one brings plenty of detail, especially on the make-up and effects as well as surfaces and clothing in a pretty sharp looking image. Sometimes things will look soft, but that is moreso in the source than anything else. No, this isn’t a groundbreaking transfer, but its pretty damn good for a movie like Wishmaster.
Depth: There are some good front to back feelings and spacing with the film. Its not “woah 3D-like”, but it stands to be very solid and works for the film. Movements are cinematic and smooth without any noticeable blur or jitter to distract.
Black Levels: Blacks are deep and can carry a little bit heavier of grain in darker spots and shadows. Details to uphold decently and minimal is hidden on clothing and surfaces that may have been visible otherwise. Hair, clothes and surfaces do hold up quite well when colored in black or a darker color. Dark alley scenes actually do impress quite a bit. No crushing witnessed on this viewing of the film.
Color Reproduction: Red is a standout color as it is used quite frequently and some scenes are filtered in the color. Whites are pretty impressive when they have a big presence. Many of the colors come on in their natural appearance and hold strong but don’t pop. A blue suit worn by the Djinn in human form does deliver a good buzz in the movie.
Flesh Tones: Skin tones come on a bit warm at times, but maintain consistency throughout the film. Facial features like stubble, wrinkles, make-up, moles, scars, wrinkles and the texture of the Wishmaster’s face all come through very well in close-ups and medium shots.
Noise/Artifacts: Some light grain and maybe a spec here or there, but its a rather clean print.
Audio Format(s): English 2.0 DTS-HD MA
Subtitles: English SDH
Dynamics: This was listed in the press releases as well as the box as a 5.1, but its 2.0. And its a pretty loud and effective 2.0 mix. A lot of the deep sounds are very heavy and impacting. The intricacies and layers could find themselves to be a little more crisp and whatnot, but they are fine and more than get the job done. Its not 5.1, but I’m sure after that initial bit you’re not going to care.
Low Frequency Extension: N/A
Surround Sound Presentation: N/A
Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are a little boomy when it comes lower vocals, but Divoff’s come across sounding extra devious.
Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies
When the legendary monster, the Djinn, is re-released, he begins his reign of terror plunging the earth into horror and chaos. As the Djinn reaches is goal of one thousand captured souls, it us up to Morgana to stand between the world as we know it and a terrifying future beyond our darkest fears.
Coming two years after the original was a nice hit at the box office, the smart decision was made at Wishmaster headquarters to cash in their chips and opt for a straight to video offering for the follow up sequel. The market had turned to Scream-based slashers and some notable horror figures were heading their for continued offerings to some buzz and success. Leprechaun, Candyman within the next year (But probably in production or pre-production when this was shot) Pinhead would all skip the theater. Straight to video wasn’t what we think of it as today with some quality stuff hitting streaming services, but not all of it was garbage back then and for fans, they were at least getting more chances to at seeing certain monsters and getting sequels.
As far as straight to video sequels go, Wishmaster 2 isn’t that bad. Yes, I’ve given a subpar rating, but its not completely awful. In all honesty, the difference in technical quality and visuals between this and the original isn’t very much at all. This one just hangs out inside and on sets a little more is most of it. Jack Sholder, a veteran horror director, is on board to helm it and he really does elevate this thing above what one would think of in terms of direct to video and makes this feel up there with lower grade theatrical offerings.
The special effects in this film are definitely up to snuff with what has been brought on before. There are some really gross moments in this film that you won’t believe look so good. One instance, a criminals gets squished slowly through jail bars is pretty gnarly. The film isn’t afraid to hold back and shows as much where it has the money to and it can. In one sequence, multiple people are slaughtered and it has some limbs flying. Also of note is that the Wishmaster costume/suit looking pretty seamless and impressive in the film. And it comes across as a much more comfortable piece to wear as well.
Speaking of the Wishmaster, Divoff reprises the role here. And honestly, he’s the reason this movie is totally watchable and gives it the most bit of fun. The man just chews scenery and camps to a degree of expertise that really rocks the house. His eyes and grin light up and scene with such evil. This would be his last film in the role, and this leaves and ridiculously large whole in the next two films if I’m not mistaken. While Wishmaster may be nobody’s favorite series or monster, you can’t deny Divoff gave a pretty outstanding and iconic performance, and we may not be talking about it today if he didn’t pull it off.
Wishmaster 2 gives us a bit more direct version of things we liked in the first movie while giving the mythology a little more meat to chew on. It definitely feels more akin to a Leprechaun movie this time around, where you just take a script and swap a monster, but its from one of the better(?) Leprechauns that it gets its feels from. Its not that great of a movie, but its better than expected, and if you like the first movie, you can easily just this one out harm free.
Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Clarity/Detail: This second film looks pretty good, but about a hair lesser than the first film. This new transfer features some stronger detail, but also comes across a little too smooth on some of details that may just be a sorta “late 90s film” thing. Gore effects show every little splatter of blood, dried or wet and piece of flesh. Its the best the film has looked and the fact that it gets to be here is a victory in itself.
Depth: Very average depth work. There are some spacing moments that wind up very good, but overall its just sort “okay”. Movements come on smooth and clean though.
Black Levels: Blacks are deep and rich, grain is a little heavier on really dark or shadowy spots. No crushing witnessed on this viewing. Details and textures comes through pretty solid on darker hair, clothing and surfaces in most instances.
Color Reproduction: This is a late 90s plain jane straight to video movie, so things sort of look basic. Reds punch through and blues feature a lot of variety and saturate but bump out a little more than most other colors in the mix.
Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and maintain a consistent look throughout the film, except in the strongly red filtered sequences. Facial details tend to look very good in medium and close up shots with scars, dried blood, wrinkles, stubble and more.
Noise/Artifacts: Grain accompanied by minimal dirt/specs.
Audio Format(s): English 5.0 DTS-HD MA
Subtitles: English SDH
Dynamics: The box lists this as “5.0” but it read 5.1 for me on multiple players/receivers. Kinda odd, but this track makes use of everything but your subwoofer. Still there are some good uses and performances on the deep sounds. You will feel a little rumble when necessary. Effects are pretty well done and rounded to a nice degree of depth. While sometimes they bump into one another, its minimal, but it includes some pretty good balance on vocals, score and dialogue.
Low Frequency Extension: N/A
Surround Sound Presentation: Not gonna change the world, but a solid 5 channel mix here. Whenever we’d get the Djinn’s world, speakers were active and pretty fun. Echos and other sound traveling mechanisms placed at good volumes and make for some fun voyages along world.
Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is good clear and audible and located in the correct position or movement on the screen.
Wishmaster 3: Beyond The Gates Of Hell
When Diana, a beautiful coed, discovers an ancient gem inside of a mystical Persian case, she unwittingly unleashes the mercilessly evil Djinn. The gut-slinging demon uses fiendish trickery to take the form of a professor in order to slice, dice and burn his way through the university staff and students. If he can overpower Diana, his “waker”, and grant her three sick and twisted wishes, the very gates of hell will open up and engulf the world into eternal damnation. With help from the man she loves, she must impale the bloodthirsty demon with a sword from heaven to save herself and the entire world.
And here’s a film that’s more like it in terms of a straight to video affair (or what was typically thought of during this era). Gone is Andrew Divoff and gone is the sorta “adult” horror film the first two in the series were. No, I’m not talking an adult targeted movie, but one that featured adults over teens. This one skews young, all the way to college and takes place with a buncha rambunctious, annoying guys and gals. Like the previous film it takes place within a lot of interiors. This is the template and haven within which to both save the money, keep the franchise going and be able to do again and again if need be.
Andrew Divoff’s absence takes a gigantic chunk out of this and we are just left with some whatever to waddle in. They decide to go a different route in terms of how the Wishmaster is presented. There is an actor who plays the monster (In costume), but now the character will transform into the likeness of different characters we meet instead of this one human form. Now, the guy in the costume is fine, though the costume’s head looks a little cartoonish and dopey. The humans he transforms into, mainly the professor, just all kinda such. And mainly its on the actors that this happens. Their evil scenes just suck the film dry. Why this is kept is to keep the scenes of using the full on Wishmaster to a minimum (In terms of days of shooting, I know he appears quite a bit throughout, but he’s on the same or similar set.).
Unlike the last time, the special effects take a dip here. There aren’t too many cool gore sequences I really could recall after I saw the film and nothing too innovative in terms of the eerie and evil wishes. The sex factor is ramped up a little bit, but mainly in the sense the people get some love on, not that there are any real gratuitous or racy scenes. I mentioned before that Wishmaster came before the whole scream vibe too hold of the horror genre, and its sequel avoided it too. But, here, it full on tries to find itself a seat at that table. The movie wants to be an “also ran” in the world of teen horror, but winds up wishing it could be that and is very forgettable.
Wishmaster 3 is probably moreso what you were expecting out the second film, or hell, for many people, maybe even the first film. Its a complete boring, uninteresting slog that comes from people that are out of ideas after two films. Now, oddly, I feel like there are other places and a few plenty ideas that you could do with the Wishmaster. But, it probably would involve taking some chances and risks, and that’s not the game here. The game here is to just sit in place and go through motions. And that comes across just as boring as that little sentence description I typed sounds.
Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Clarity/Detail: Wishmaster 3’s Blu-ray debut comes with an image that’s pretty comparable to the one for the second film. Maybe just a hair of a step down but not enough to drop the scoring or anything (WHERE ARE MY DECIMALS, BRIAN!?!?). Details are decent, but it does look a bit more smooth on things. It carries that very 90s and straight to video look to it, if that makes sense. Its a little soft but carries a crisp enough picture to be a much clearer and better image than its DVD predecessor.
Depth: Dimensions here are pretty average. There is solid spacing between characters and objects with the background and the hold on through camera movements. Nothing is too impressive (Its not bad by any means) and its enough to get by.
Black Levels: Blacks are deep and provide a bit more of grain in dark areas of the image and shadowy/dark scenes. No crushing witnessed during this viewing of the film.
Color Reproduction: Colors are solid and pretty bold. Nothing really sits and pops, but the colors are strong and saturated pretty well. The overall coloring on the Wishmaster himself looks very good. Of course reds come on strong and are notably used as a filter at points in the film because…of course.
Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural in appearance and maintain that look consistently throughout the feature’s runtime. Facial details like make-up, lip texture, wrinkles, stubble and dried blood all give a more distinct and better appearance in close ups than other distances (Medium shots are all-right).
Noise/Artifacts: Grain with some dirt/specs.
Audio Format(s): English 2.0 DTS-HD MA
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Dynamics: As weak and easy as I described the film’s plot, the audio goes that route as well with a 2.0 track. Its a decent enough track to get the job done, but its also nothing special. The sound is spaced out good enough that there is a nice clarity in between the score, vocals and sound effects. The low end sounds do get some solid depth in there and bump a little to combine with some decent right to left movement and sound saturation based on distance and character/action placement.
Low Frequency Extension: N/A
Surround Sound Presentation: N/A
Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is easy, clear and clean.
Wishmaster: The Prophecy Fulfilled
The evil Djinn returns in the fourth installment of this popular shocker. Released via an ancient antique box opened by Lisa Burnley, the spirit assumes the identity of Lisa’s lawyer and aims to fool her into making three evil wishes. Although suspicious of her suddenly very different lawyer, Lisa nevertheless makes the three wishes, causing all hell to break loose as members of the Brotherhood of Djinn are spectacularly awoken.
Here we are at the fourth and final film in the original Wishmaster quadrilogy. Its another go at it from the director of the third film, Chris Angel. He also keeps his Wishmaster, with John Novak returning to don the Djinn outfit for this one. Once again, its a Wishmaster possessing the identity of someone, so its a dual role. This time its carried on by 90210 and Battlestar Galactica alum Michael Trucco. I’ll give him that he was much better than the professor in the last one, but still the furthest cry from Andrew Divoff.
The Prophecy Fulfilled feels like someone took a script from one of those 90s late night Cinemax erotic thrillers (Shut up, you know you’ve seen more than one Shannon Tweed movie in your life) and then decided to add the Djinn to it. This one looks and plays like one. Its got itself plenty of sex, cheap locations, lighting and film stock. Hell, its even got that fake looking sense of wealth or what the director and producers think is wealth with as little of money as they can to show it. Oh, its got that “dangerous love triangle” thing going on as well. Sorry, but I’ve seen my fair share of these.
While it ups the sex, there also is a bit more “showing” of gore this time around. Some of it is admittedly kind of cool and something that felt more enjoyable than the last outing. Granted, this stuff only shows up at certain little intervals, but it is something. They also give us more Djinn (Do I add an ‘s’? How do I make it plural) this time around and seemingly try and add to the mythology or end it. I’m sure had there been some success there would be more of these by now. But, at the fourth film it was nice to see them try and bring something new to the table, while doing some of the same old thing.
I can’t tell you whether I enjoyed this one more than the the last film or not. Both are snoozers and pretty full bags of garbage. But, in terms of what they bring to the table in the scope of the overall series arc and character, this one at least seems to try even if it might be a worse movie. The film is cheap, sleazy and just rather dull at most corners, but there are some little bright spots at times. If you’ve made it through three films this far, its kind of silly not to just go on and push yourself through one more.
Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Clarity/Detail: Well, Wishmaster 4 comes to Blu-ray with a nice, clear and clean look to it. It has some very good details in close-up shots. While the effects in this movie aren’t very good, this transfer doesn’t wrong them by making them look worse. I mentioned in my review that this was a Cinemax movie and that’s pretty much what this looks like in its aesthetic too.
Depth: This is some dimension work that really just gets the job done and not much more. Characters look and act free with smooth movements.
Black Levels: Blacks are deep and will carry some more grain. Aside from close ups and some well lit medium shots, details can be hidden on dark clothing and surfaces as well as nighttime or dark and shadowy scenes. No crushing witnessed.
Color Reproduction: Colors are more realistic in look and don’t carry a lot of pop. The Wishmaster himself and his special effects are are a bit more vibrant. The opening credits feature some flames which might the most overall impressive bit of color in the film. Reds come through best in terms of standouts.
Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and have a more lifelike look from scene to scene for the film’s duration. Freckles, wrinkles, make-up moles and the like all show through better in close ups than they do further shots in the film.
Noise/Artifacts: Clean, some light grain, but that’s really it.
Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Dynamics: The fourth Wishmaster brings about a pretty much just okay track. Its effective enough, but if this was a 2.0 track you probably wouldn’t even notice. The overall sound is a little on the lower end and rumbly, but it does have solid intricacies and overall works pretty well for what it is. I mean, c’mon folks, this is the fourth film in the Wishmaster series.
Low Frequency Extension: Club music, punches and mystical sounds all bring some bump to the subwoofer, as well as roaring fired, engines and some other action sounds.
Surround Sound Presentation: There is some presence from the rear channels in this mix, but this is a more front heavy track. Sound travels accurately across and back and volume placement is pretty accurate to what it is going on onscreen.
Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is clean and clear.
Wishmaster Collection is a 3-Disc Blu-ray set. The 3rd and 4th movies share a disc.
Disc 1 (Wishmaster)
- With Director Robert Kurtzman and Screenwriter Peter Atkins – Ported over from the DVD release of the film.
- With Director Robert Kurtzman and Stars Andrew Divoff and Tammy Lauren
- Isolated Score Selections and Audio Interview with Composer Harry Manfredini
Out Of The Bottle (HD, 21:55) – Interviews with director Robert Kurtzman and co-producer David Tripet. A fascinating back and forth that goes from the genesis of the production through casting, Wes Craven’s involvment, Andrew Divoff and making this a horror-allstars film. Its accompanied by some on-set/behind-the-scenes footage. This piece is extremely informative and features plenty of anecdotes on shooting the film as well as the effect used in it that went right and ones that went wrong. Kurtzman mentions that at one point he was offered the sequel but studio hands changed and he never heard back. But it was straight to video and he would have passed on it at the time (He does praise the realm in today’s environment as very successful and full of quality).
The Magic Words (HD, ) – An interview with Screenwriter Peter Atkins. Atkins is very enthusiastic to discuss the job he took that he thought sounded stupid. He says he’s the guy who changed the movie from using the term genie to Djinn (“How the hell do you pronounce that anyway?”). Atkins talks about focusing on certain areas in characters with horror movies where he feels some things will writer or play out themselves. He also wows about the cast they were able to assemble for the film. And then, he also takes a moment to share his brief interaction with Wes Craven.
The Djinn and Alexandra (HD, 25:57) – Interviews with stars Andrew Divoff and Tammy Lauren. Divoff opens by sharing his love for horror and Lugosi and Karloff. Tammy Lauren is the first to mention that Kurtzman was aiming to make a “throwback to the 80s” horror film, of which the film does feel. The actors celebrate working with one another, never having met til the table read for the film and finding they both studied under the same teacher. They discuss the awe of working with their co-stars and Lauren cracks up and talks about the humor of herself and having to do the sports related scenes in the film. Divoff briefly touches on his role in the second, but doesn’t seem as happy with that film and quickly reverts back to praising the first film. Tammy Lauren talks her first Horror Hound convention and interaction with the fans and Divoff shows off his Djinn ring that he had made to wear to commemorate the film.
Captured Visions (HD, 12:43) – An interview with director of photography Jacques Haitkin. A quick observation, he sits in a chair at his home and has like 4-5 remotes in front of him opting for that instead of a master remote just like myself. Jacque talks more in a scope of horror, filming and art to go into his experience of doing the film and already having tons of experience with KNB which made Wishmaster to be an easy fit. He’s a bit of a jokey, giggly guy but I enjoyed his enthusiasm as he goes through the film describing the lighting and filming technique throughout of their stylized and heightened reality.
Wish List (HD, 12:04) – Interviews with actors Robert Englund, Kane Hodder and Ted Raimi. They all comment on how they didn’t have to wear any make-up and could just be a human. Hodder thanks Kurtzman for giving him his first real non-monster role and gushes over working with Andrew Divoff and how great he found him to be. Englund talks how impressed he was with the suit for the Djinn and how he was excited to play a fussy character that he hadn’t tackled before. Raimi said he was getting away from horror at the time, but when Bob Kurtzman is doing a horror movie, you just show up. He’s surprised at the longevity of this film on people’s minds and he’s very proud of the film, one of his favorites. Englund and Hodder discuss how they are constantly signing the picture of them with Tony Todd from the set.
Teaser Trailer (HD, :45)
Theatrical Trailer (HD, 1:37)
TV Spots (SD, 3:00)
Radio Spots (HD, 1:09)
Vintage Making Of Featurette (SD, 24:45) – Carried over from the DVD release. This features press junket interviews from the production of the film with Andrew Divoff, Robert Kurtzman, Peter Atkins and Tammy Lauren.
Vintage EPK (SD, 5:39) – A brief little generic sell of the movie, but it does feature some words from Wes Craven about the film (As well as Tammy Lauren and Peter Atkins).
Behind-The-Scenes Footage Compilation (SD, 11:58) – Ported over from the DVD release. Features raw video footage of actors hanging out between takes, the shooting of scenes, effects tests, blocking them out, Kurtzman directing and some screwball fun.
Storyboard Gallery (HD, 7:37) – Pulled from the prologue and the big party murder sequence.
Still Gallery (HD, 6:42) – Publicity photos, promo shots and a couple effects publicity stills.
Disc 2 (Wishmaster 2)
- With Writer/Director Jack Sholder
Trailer (HD, 1:07)
Still Gallery (HD, 5:22) – All production/promotional stills.
Disc 3 (Wishmaster 3/ Wishmaster 4)
- Audio Commentary – With Director Chris Angel and Cast Members John Novak, Jason Connery and Louisette Geiss.
- Behind-The-Scenes (SD, 5:51) – From the DVD edition. Very much an EPK piece in different segments, one, goes over story, stunts, etc. There is also some on set and behind the scenes footage mixed in for good measure.
- Trailer (HD, 1:52)
- Audio Commentary – With Director Chris Angel and Cast Members Michael Trucco and Jason Thompson
- Audio Commentary – With Director Chris Angel and Actor Jason Novak
- Wishmaster Theater Featurette (SD, 7:13) – A behind-the-scenes/making of from the previous DVD, done as a farcical masterpiece theater type thing (Mainly just the musical choices and narrator voice).
- Trailer (SD, 1:21)
The first Wishmaster film can be found to be a passionate horror film made “for the fans”. It features an all-star cast of genre icons and builds a new one in Andrew Divoff. The second film finds some goodwill leftover and more Divoff fun, but the remaining two films are kind of complete dumpster fires. This set, unsurprisingly focusing the majority of its newly crafted bonus mater and all on camera interviews to the first movie with a little here and there about the second in those questionings. The films all look and sound up to spec with how some of the above average presentations have been in recent years. Its got a high pricepoint for people that are probably moreso looking to pick up just the original and maybe the second movie. You could honestly look at the final two films as a bonus if you want. Until the price comes down this is for the hardest of hardcore Wishmaster fans only.