Monday, April 21, 2014

Film Review: Wishmaster (1997)

Wishmaster (Review)
United States/1997
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Streaming
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: Yes

"...a unique concept with great execution, and fantastic special effects."

Alexandra Amberson (Tammy Lauren) unwittingly releases a djinn, an evil genie whose goal is to grant three wishes and unleash his evil brethren across the world, from a jewel she was supposed to appraise...

Wishmaster continues as the djinn is released, killing one of Alexandra's friends. Alexandra doesn't know all of the details, so she conducts her own research on the jewel, while the djinn starts wrecking havoc. The djinn can only use his unlimited power when a wish is made, and, fortunately, he can easily persuade his victims into telling him their desires; it's a bit too easy for the djinn, and it can be seen as a plot contrivance. Anyway, the djinn has to get Alexandra to make three wishes; if she makes the wishes, the djinn can release hell on Earth; if she doesn't make three wishes, she'll be tormented by the deaths of the djinn's victims. Like its introduction, Wishmaster ends with a fantastic, gory set piece; the ending itself feels like a bit of a cop-out, it's not really playing by its own rules.

Wishmaster is a gory 90s horror film. The concept is creative, interesting, and very entertaining -- it's a breath of fresh air. Fortunately, the execution is also great. The story focused on both Alexandra and the djinn, and gives some insight on these powerful demon-like genies. The story is neatly packaged and very well paced, too. The convenient plot contrivances may hold more weigh for others, but they didn't bother me much. Although it has plenty of loud-noise scares, Wishmaster's main attraction is its practical gore effects. The introduction and ending have plenty of gore, with some disturbing visuals and "wow" moments. The in-between also features some very interesting kills, or rather wishes, that show off the special effects.

The biggest detriment for Wishmaster is its leading actress. Tammy Lauren is mediocre during most of her performance, but she often delivers terrible scenes -- she's either serviceably bland, or ridiculously over-the-top. Her character has scenes where she has visions of the djinn's victims, so she yells and yells; the overacting is so exaggerated, these scenes are laughably bad. However, the bulk of the cast consists of great cameos, especially for horror fans, so not all is lost. The special effects and makeup are the next highlight; these effects are spectacular for fans of old-school gore, delivering some cringe-worthy death sequences. The computer effects are mediocre, but it's a film from the 90s, so I can't fault it, especially since its not used much. Aside from those terrible shouting scenes, director Robert Kurtzman delivers a fresh and creative horror film.

Overall, Wishmaster is a great horror film. It's a unique concept with great execution, and fantastic special effects. It's fast paced and very entertaining. Leading lady Tammy Lauren is bad, but the cameos are awesome. Definitely check this film out, it's one of my favorites from the 90s.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood, graphic gore.

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