monster

Shaun vs. Wishmaster (1997)

Centuries after being imprisoned in a gem and hidden away, an evil genie is awoken in modern day America and goes back to doing what he does best: granting twisted wishes and stealing souls.


Judging a Book by its Cover

– It’s a little simplistic with the black background.  The marketers could only afford one big head on the poster, I guess.

– Spoiler:  The djinn looks nothing like that face on the poster.  Did someone grab concept art and just run with it?

– There’s no way that head fits in that little gem.


Be careful what you wish for!

Directed by Robert Kurtzman

Starring Tammy Lauren, Andrew Divoff and Robert Englund

Centuries ago, a Persian emperor caught himself a genie (Andrew Divoff) and started making wishes.  Trouble is, the genie is part of an evil race of magical creatures that live between the worlds known as the Djinn who are hellbent on taking over our world.  They pervert every wish into something awful in exchange for the soul of the person making the wish.  Luckily, the emperor’s resident sorcerer knows what the creature is and stops the genie before the third wish is granted.  He traps the creature in a fire gem and there the evil djinn with stay for all eternity.  Or until after the credits are finished.  Skip ahead to present day 1997 and the shit hits the fan.

HAHAHA soonIwillkillyou HAHAHA

A collector of rare artifacts (Robert Englund) is waiting for his latest acquisition only for a drunk crane operator to drop it, crushing poor Ted Raimi. A construction worker finds a gem inside the artifact and lifts it to pawn it off later. It winds up in the hands of a gem appraiser named Alexandra who accidentally rubs the gem and wakes up our friendly neighborhood genie.  He goes on his soul shopping spree as Alexandra bears witness to the wishtakers demises.  The souls are used to charge the fire gem to a point where it can open a portal and let the Djinn out after he gets Alexandra to make her three wishes.  Unable to physically defeat a god-like figure, Alexandra must outsmart the creature for all mankind.

On loan from the Evil Dead Museum of Evil Skeletons

Well, a creature granting cursed wishes isn’t exactly the most original plot (Leprechaun 2 had just recently done that gimmick a few years prior and let’s face it, it’s essentially “The Monkey’s Paw”) but what the hell, as long as it’s entertaining.  And it certainly is entertaining, in more way than one. The main course of the movie is seeing how the Djinn messes around with people’s desires. A bum wishes someone (“Phantasm’s” Reggie Bannister) to get cancer and die so we are witness to the man getting essentially every form of cancer and dying in mere moments. Yikes!  Not every kill is a winner, but most of them are fun to watch. The opening Persian scene and the ending both have parties where the Djinn just goes all out where people are blown up, deformed, torn up from the inside out (indeed a man’s skeleton rips itself out of his body!), etc. Clearly, the director being a member of the awesome KNB Effects team has its advantages and the those practical effects look great in comparison to the old, obvious CGI that is used occasionally.

 

Smells like cherry

Now that we got the bloody stuff out of the way, it’s time to discuss everything else. Again, the direction from Robert Kurtzman is well done and shows what he’s learned from working on so many movies in the past (and I’ll forgive his debut with the awful “The Demolitionist.”) The story works for the most part but there are many plot holes you can drive a car through.  However the movie isn’t trying to give you Shakespeare unless Shakespeare did a really super gory sonnet I’ve never heard of.

Andrew Divoff is awesome as the Djinn and his alter ego, Nathaniel Demarest. He really looks like he’s enjoying chewing the scenery and I enjoyed watching him chew. Our heroine, Tammy Lauren, tries but her delivery at the moments that matter aren’t all that convincing. And maybe it’s just me, but every time she screams, she looks like one of the aliens from “They Live.” Maybe that’s another wink at horror fans?

 

At least people see my face in this movie.

There are many winks actually. I’ve already name dropped Robert Englund (Nightmare on Elm Street), Reggie Bannister (Phantasm) and Ted Raimi (Evil Dead 2) but there’s more! The most popular Jason Voorhees of them all, Kane Hodder, makes an appearance as a guard while Candyman himself, Tony Todd, shows up as a bouncer and even the Tall Man, Angus Scrimm (Phantasm) opens the movie as the narrator!  If that isn’t enough, this time around, I actually caught the statue of Pazuzu from “The Exorcist.”  Most of these characters get killed off too (aside from the narrator and statue of course) which is a wink from the makers of the movie telling us that the Wishmaster is better than every other horror icon.  Only time will tell on that.

He farted in the elevator.

TL;DR

Story: 6 – A bit of a convoluted take on “The Monkey’s Paw” but it does introduce a new film monster that is entertaining thanks to actor Andrew Divoff.

Blood: 8 – The CGI is obvious and bad, but the practical effects are fantastic and nasty!

Nudity: 1 – Tight shirts is all we get, boo!

Rating: 7 – Making no bones about it, the movie isn’t as great as it should come off, but it’s an entertaining watch none the less as long as you don’t think about those plot holes too much. For horror nuts, it’s a must watch to see who can point out the most cameos.

Trivia

– Many crew members played extras in scenes during the movie including director Robert Kurtzman getting killed by piano wires.

– At some point during filming, someone had broken onto one of the sets and stole all the cameras.

 

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