(Submitted with utmost sincerity by Mr. Anton Phibes…Thanks, Ho-rror Ho-mie…As a Stephen King fangirl, I didn’t want to touch this one!! 😉 xoxo)
I’ve not read a single book in Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. At best, I have passing familiarity with the basics. However, I am aware of the enormity of its fanbase and the lofty expectations thrust upon this particular picture. For a good many years, Hollywood had attempted to bring this towering (Pun very much intended) series to the cinema, with the project being shuffled from one filmmaker/studio to another. With each crumb of new information offered on the project, fans expressed extreme excitement. After many false-starts and failed attempts, the film was finally made. And it is because of this wait that my heart goes out to all the Dark Tower fans. Even in my vast ignorance of the series, I can tell that this is not the Dark Tower film readers were clamoring for.
As a man simply looking for a good time at the movies, I wasn’t entirely displeased. The film had some small delights to offer and was mostly competent. Sure, it was riddled with cliche, but that’s something I can stomach. For the casual viewer, this film might be a pleasantly forgettable romp. It’s a lean, mean fantasy adventure with a few thrills and chills to offer, if nothing truly special. But audiences expected more from this material, and I certainly don’t blame them for doing so. When you’re drawing from a story told in eight volumes, a 95 minute film just isn’t likely to do the trick. From what I’ve gathered, the movie picks bits and pieces from various books in the series for its plot. I’ve also heard it said it that, outside of those cherry-picked elements, has very little to do with the series. As it is, the film’s plot concerns the last Gunslinger and his quest for revenge the Man in Black, a devilish sorcerer out to destroy existence. The Gunslinger is joined by Jake, a young man with the gift of the “Shine”, first seen in King’s The Shining. With The Gunslinger’s skill and Jake’s Shine, they must stop the mad magician before it’s too late.
The primary reason to watch this film are for the performances by the actors. Unfortunately, the script doesn’t allow them to utilize their full potential, but they’re still rather good. Idris Elba is always a fantastic addition to any film and his gruff demeanor suits the Gunslinger well. Tom Taylor as the young Jake is very likable and his performance brings to mind some of the great family fantasies of the ’80s. Matthew McConaughey steals the show with a hammy portrayal of evil that’s delicious in its daffy depiction of deviltry.
The Dark Tower is far from the epic people had hoped for. As agreeable popcorn nonsense, it’s perfectly serviceable. As an adaptation, I feel that fans will likely be disappointed. However, a TV series is still in development, so perhaps that will put the franchise back on the right trail. Let’s hope that the Gunslinger’s next ride is a glorious one.
(Submitted with an eXXXtra heaping helping of Awesome Sauce by one Mr. Prince Adam…who is in no way biased in this review, I’m sure. 😉 Thanks, Super Fiend! 🙂 xoxo)
“He-Man and the Masters of the Universe team up with the ThunderCats—the epic crossover event you’ve waited thirty years to see! In his ever-living desire to destroy the mighty ThunderCats, Mumm-Ra quests for a weapon that can rival the legendary Sword of Omens: He-Man’s Sword of Power! But his dimension-spanning scheme kick starts a cataclysmic crisis that will embroil heroes and villains—Masters, Mutants and ThunderCats—in a mind-blowing six-part saga!”
The books description is 100% accurate in that this crossover has been thirty years in the making for me! I loved both shows as a kid, giving the slightest edge to He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. Coupled with the fact that I’m loving the latest Masters of the Universe comic book series. At the end of this six issue mini-series, I was overall very happy with it. I liked the way the writers brought these two characters together. Before even discussing that, the book clearly establishes the fact that He-Man’s Eternia and Lion-O’s Third Earth occupy separate universes. This one line allowed my inner child to come to terms with why these characters never interacted in animation. Thankfully, comic books are not restrained by the rules and regulations of network television. The book quickly reminds the reader, that Thundera was destroyed long ago, and that the ThunderCats are transplants to Third Earth. I must admit, it was refreshing to be reminded of that fact, as some ThunderCats factoids had slipped my adult mind. (Growing up sucks) The benefit of having a relatively current MotU book, is that our He-Man knowledge has been brought to the forefront of readers mind. That’s one thing I wish DC had done differently. I wish they had given readers a ThunderCats mini-series, re-establishing them in the world of comic books and giving readers a refresher in terms of their status quo. It’s worth noting that the recent Masters of the Universe comics from DC aren’t referenced or in continuity with this story, unlike the DCU/Masters of the Universe crossover I reviewed here a while back. So, what brings these two worlds together? The Ancient Spirits of Evil, after being fed up with Mumm-Ra’s failure to acquire the Sword of Omens, so they use black magic to create a tear in the multiverse and seek out Skeletor’s help to do their bidding. In exchange they promised him their help and Mumm-Ra as a minion to help defeat He-Man and capture Castle Greyskull. I have to wonder if the Ancient Spirits of Evil did their due diligence. If they had, they would’ve had to have realized Skeletor was as ineffective against He-Man, as Mumm-Ra was against the ThunderCats. The two villains join forces in the weirdest way. Skeletor mixes Mumm-Ra’s ashes with a potion and drinks it. Mumm-Ra’s essence became one with Skeletor and the struggle for physical control plays like someone struggling with dissociative identity disorder. It is pretty humorous when they hurl insults at each other though. They’re like two children trapped in one ugly, menacing adult, monstrous looking body. Despite the push and pull between the two, they make a formidable team. They turn on the Ancient Spirits of Evil, and end up gaining the upper hand on the Masters of the Universe and ThunderCats, while Lion-O and He-Man are otherwise occupied. They commandeer Castle Greyskull and set their sights on the Orb of Power, with the intention of reshaping the multiverse, to their dastardly liking.
While the rest of the ThunderCats and Masters of the Universe appear in the book, He-Man and Lion-O are the stars of this tale. Aside from being powerful heroes with big muscles and a cool magic imbued sword, they both share a longing to live up to their father’s legacies and expectations. Lion-O has already inherited the title of King from his deceased father but with every decision, he seemingly makes, he wonders if his father would approve. It is only after the events of the book unfold and he gets positive reinforcement from King Randor and He-Man, does he start believing his father would approve. This is an understandable reaction though because despite being physically strong and appearing to be an adult, Lion-O is really 12 years old. He-Man’s situation is slightly different. His father, King Randor is alive, yet the aloof, constantly tardy persona He-Man puts on as Prince Adam. Leaves his father unimpressed and convinced he is unfit to be king. The reason I know this book isn’t cannon with the other DC He-Man book, is because King Randor finds out Adam is He-Man for the first time in this book. In the ongoing title, he’s known for quite a while that his son is He-Man. Despite both our heroes being built bigger than The Rock and Arnold Schwarzenegger, this story shows them in situations where they are at least temporarily defeated by the Mumm-Ra/Skeletor hybrid Mumm-ator. I’ve never seen He-Man so defeated. So much so that he was temporarily dead. His death scene was appropriately heroic. He battled tirelessly against a mix of his rogues and the ThunderCats rogues even without his Sword of Power, which had been stolen. After being changed from He-Man back to Adam, he succumbs to his wounds. While this death was heroic and shocking, it’s rendered moot almost as its happening. Did anyone actually expect He-Man to be killed and stay dead in this? Of course not! After hearing of He-Man’s death, Lion – O transports the body back to Third Earth, and uses Mumm-Ra’s own regenerative sarcophagus to return He-Man to life. He-Man’s temporary death does take both our main heroes out of story for a bit, and showcases just how strong and vital to their universes they are. In their absence, both the Masters of the Universe and Thundercats get decimated by Mumm-ator and his evil horde. This is more powerful a statement about He-Man and Lion-O then any feat of strength they could perform. When He-Man is resurrected, the dark magic of Mumm-Ra’s sarcophagus has driven him mad. If you think about it, the sarcophagus is this universes Lazarus Pit in function and side effects. He-Man’s altered state, provides motive for the obligatory hero vs hero fight. This story answers another childhood question of mine, who’s stronger, He-Man or Lion-O? The answer is He-Man, by a little bit…even with both getting a power boost from their swords. Of course He-Man would win, his name is Adam after all! 😉 This book skews more as a He-Man story though, with the ThunderCats as guest stars. Even still, it takes the combination of the Sword of Omens and the Power sword, coupled with knowledge discs and some multiverse travel, for He-Man & Lion-O to defeat Mumm-ator. The finale of this book is deserving of the word epic, and defies the scope and budget that animators could have achieved when these two characters first occupied our TV screens.
Freddie Williams II brings this epic team up of animated titans of the 80’s to life artistically. Much like the artist on the ongoing Masters of the Universe title, he captures the look of both animated series, while giving them a more detailed look. I didn’t think this was possible but Freddie Williams II has given He-Man and Lion-O larger bi-ceps, triceps and quads, then they had in the cartoon. Skeletor and Mumm-Ra were bad ass looking villains on their own right, but when they are combined, they’re much scarier. There are specific pages that I absolutely love. Seeing He-Man and Lion-O stand side by side for the first time will give you goosebumps. If it doesn’t, you’re not a fan of these characters. There is some dark imagery in this book. You see the Thundercats and Masters of the Universe literally laid out unconscious and bloody in front of Castle Greyskull. There’s also the page where Lion-O uses sight beyond sight to try and calm He-Man’s rage post resurrection. What we see is a vision of a future where the world is in ruins and enslaved by Mumm-ator. It’s very Jack Kirby New Gods/Darkseid inspired. Speaking of inspired, there are pages where He-Man & Lion-O travel through the multiverse. They look like a cross between Thor travelling through space via the rainbow bridge and the psychedelic look of Doctor Strange. During their travels through the multiverse, they travel to Metropolis where He-Man is Clark Kent/ Superman. It was so cool to see two of my childhood heroes morph into one for a bit. Honestly, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to see that as an Elseworld’s mini-series.
This book had 30 years of anticipation to live up to and you know what? For the most part, it did just that. This book feels like a first go around in the shared adventures of these characters. The door is open for a continuation and I hope it happens. At the very least, I hope this leads to more new issues of the Masters of the Universe comic books and launches a new ongoing Thundercats book. If you haven’t yet, help that cause by buying and reading this book. If you’re a fan of these characters, you’ll love it!
Happy Birthday to the always amazing Ms. Shelley Duvall! 🙂
Shelley Duvall is one of the most awesomely eccentric women in entertainment history. She made her film debut in Robert Altman’s utterly bizarre Brewster McCloud. After that, Ms. Duvall teamed up with Altman for six more films: McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971), Thieves Like Us (1974), Nashville (1975), Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull’s History Lesson (1976), 3 Women (1977), and Popeye (1980). For her work in 3 Women, she earned the Best Actress prize at the Cannes Film Festival. Beyond Mr. Altman, Ms. Duvall worked with Woody Allen in Annie Hall (1977), Terry Gilliam in Time Bandits (1981), and Steve Martin in Roxanne (1987).
Shelley Duvall went on to become an unconventional icon of fantasy television. In 1982, Duvall narrated, ho-sted, and was eXXXecutive producer on the fantasy anthology Faerie Tale Theatre, which won a Peabody Award, TCA Award and Golden CableACE. The series is quite wonderful, filled with beloved Ho-llywood stars, theatrical effects, and an offbeat charm. Any series that has Vincent Price as the Magic Mirror in Snow White and Jeff Goldblum as the Big Bad Wolf in Three Little Pigs is pure magic in my book. 🙂 In 1985, she created Tall Tales & Legends, another fantasy anthology. That series only lasted 9 episodes, but it earned Duvall an Emmy nomination. It’s worth noting that one of the 9 episodes is an adaptation of ho-rror classic The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. That’s a story we lose our heads over… 😉
Speaking of ho-rror, Ms. Duvall has dabbled in spooky stuff a few times. As most of you know, she played Wendy Torrance in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, a favorite of many, many fright fans. She also starred in Frankenweenie (1984) by Tim Burton, who would go on to direct a Faerie Tale Theater episode. In the (jugular) vein of her previous shows, Duvall created a short-lived ho-rror anthology called Nightmare Classics. Keep it kreepy, Ms. Duvall! 🙂
In ho-nor of her birthday, we dug up an episode of Nightmare Classics! It’s a vamp-tastic retelling of Sheridan le Fanu’s Carmilla, starring Meg “Psycho II” Tilly and Roddy “Fright Night“ McDowall. Enjoy, Fright Fiends!
Happy Birthday, Shelley Duvall! You truly are a Shining star! 🙂 xoxo
Happy Birthday to Cinema’s Great Magician, Ray Harryhausen!
As you cool ghouls and groovy ghoulies probably know, Ray Harryhausen was the mightiest stop motion animator in the cosmos. He was both Prometheus and Athena, sculpting creatures from clay and breathing life into them. Mr. Harryhausen brought many great monsters into existence with just his skilled hands and superhuman patience. What he did was magic, pure and simple.
In ho-nor of Mr. Harryhausen, we’ve dug up this groovy interview… conducted by Mr. Tim Burton! In it, you’ll hear Ray talk about the birth of several of his creations, watch Tim Burton try not give in to his inner-fanboy, and see the two mess around with a flying saucer from Earth vs. The Flying Saucers! It’s an incredible watch for lovers of fantastic cinema and Master Harryhausen. Enjoy, Kinky Ho-mies! 🙂 xoxo
Happy Birthday, Ray! Thanks for all the cinematic magic. 🙂 xoxo
Showtime’s American Gods is a leisurely stroll through a dream. It dazzles, delights, and confuses the viewer, but its story unfold at a mummy’s pace. Much of the series involves road trips and I suspect that was the point: the journey is much more fulfilling than the destination. Every episode is brimming with disturbing beauty and faerie story detours that are fantastical in every meaning of that word, but the primary story often feels like a skeleton to hang such fancies on. It could be said that the story doesn’t even really kick off until its first season finale, and that the entire season was essentially a prelude to what lies ahead. In that way, it’s easy to see why many would frustrated by the series. For me, it was very much a journey worth taking.
American Gods is based on the Neil Gaiman novel of the same title. It’s an incredibly strange book and I adore it for that reason. Showrunners Bryan Fuller (developer of Hannibal, creator of Pushing Up Daisies) and Michael Green (writer on Alien: Covenant, writer/producer Heroes) are certainly no strangers to bizarre material. What they have crafted is a work that is faithful to the spirit and strangeness of Gaiman’s novel, if not its story. That’s not to say that their series isn’t recognizable as American Gods, but it’s certainly no word-for-word retelling. For those unfamiliar with the material, the central premise is that gods and mythological creatures exist because people believe in them and immigrants have brought with them their deities and sprites. As humanity’s faith in such beings wanes, New Gods have been born: figures who represent society’s obsession with modern forms media, transportation, technology, and other such concepts. At the center of this world of gods and monsters is Shadow Moon, a recently released convict who has lost everything that matters to him, including his wife. With nothing left, he accepts a job as the bodyguard of an enigmatic conman, known as Mr. Wednesday. In no time at all, Shadow finds himself involved in a conflict between the Old Gods and the New Gods. The world of American Gods is not far removed from our own in many ways, and completely alien in others. It’s a realm that has everything ours has to offer, but where belief is powerful enough to give life to legends. Anything a person can think of can potentially exist within this world, which gives many opportunities for truly magical imagery. And the series takes full advantage of it. Some of it is gruesome, some of it is weird, and some of it is gorgeous. But all of it is fantastic. In fact, it’s some of the most spectacular imagery I’ve seen for a television show in some time. The cinematography is nothing short of breathtaking, and the visual effects are a magician’s feat.
Like the book, American Gods takes many detours from its main plot. Though it’s easy to see why this would annoy the heck out of some viewers, most of these detours are pretty darn groovy. There’s one episode that’s mostly dedicated to the tale of an 18th-century Irishwoman (Cornish in the book) that really doesn’t further the conflict of the Old Gods and New Gods, but it makes this universe all the richer. When the series pauses to tell short stories, it feels more like an anthology than an epic. I certainly didn’t mind these diversions.
On paper, the cast seems exceptional. In execution, it’s pure perfection. Ricky Whittle’s Shadow and Ian McShane’s Mr. Wednesday play off of each other in marvelous fashion. As far as I’m concerned, McShane is Mr. Wednesday. Gillian Anderson is delightful as Media, wearing the guise of a new pop culture icon in each of her appearances. (Any show that has Dana Scully doing a David Bowie impression is fine by me!! ;)) Orlando Jones is wildly charismatic as the trickster Mr. Nancy and Yetide Badaki’s Bilquis says a lot with very little dialogue. As always, Crispin Glover is sensational as the mysterious Mr. World.
Perhaps the most surprising and delightful aspect of the first season is the inclusion of a new subplot with leprechaun Mad Sweeney and walking corpse Laura Moon, played by Pablo Schreiber and Emily Browning respectively. Both characters have been expanded far beyond their book counterparts. With Sweeney given a longer lifespan and Laura given more personality and backstory than just a dead wife, the pair very nearly steal the entire show away from the main characters. Their insult-laden repartee and unusual chemistry are nothing short of brilliant. If the series has outdone Gaiman in any regard, it’s in the handling of Laura and Sweeney.
All in all, the first season of American Gods is one heck of road trip. If one doesn’t mind frequent stops and detours, the series is superb fantasy. Gaiman’s magnificent novel is done great justice, and even improved upon in some regards. It’s very episodic, but most of its diversions are strong in their own way. We’ll have to wait to see if the second season stays in this direction, but I wouldn’t be disappointed if it did. American Gods is truly divine.
Even though I feel as if the fantasy genre has been more redefined toward films such as Harry Potter-type movies, to me it will always be about sword and sorcery. Movies like Waxwork and yes, even WaxworkII: Lost in Time captured that feeling while mixing and comedy and horror, although not so much with the latter. It must have been around the early 2000s when these kinds of films seemed to have vanished or shifted into something else completely, so what happened?
I’ll tell you what happened. The Wishmaster films happened. Well, I don’t have concrete evidence to back this up and the type of film that I am talking about are still around, but I seem to recall a massive drop off in the genre after the fourth and so far the final Wishmaster movie was in 2002. Sure, it’s purely coincidence, but I feel like the Wishmaster franchise perfectly represents what can go right, but also can go wrong with a franchise. The first film, while overlooked, is great and the second expands upon what the first introduced even if it’s not as good… then you get to the third and fourth films where a different studio is now making the films, totally doesn’t understand the property they have, never takes risks with expanding the lore or characters and just makes pretty, young adult dramas and can’t afford to make the movies. Fortunately, it ends there, unlike the Hellraiser films that just kept going and going.
Before the series quickly dropped in quality (and even some will argue with me on that) the first film was somewhat fanciful, had an interesting story with a very unique character and great special effects, as it should seeing as the film is directed by Special Effects man Robert Kurtzman. You got it, the ‘K’ in KNB. Wishmaster is kinda like Aladdin, a supernatural genie is connected to the person who awoke him and causes all kinds of misinterpreted shenanigans. Only in Wishmaster, the genie’s shenanigans are deadly. Oh, and he’s not called a genie, he’s called Djinn (which to me sounds like a Mortal Kombat character).
Wishmaster opens a couple of hundred of years ago where the Djinn is talking a Prince or King (it’s unclear, but irrelevant) into granting his third wish so that he and his brethren can walk the Earth, basically causing Armageddon. The opening scene boasts some wild and impressive special effects as people are turning into all kinds of reptiles or dying in horrific, body twisting ways. It not only showcases the type of creativity and imagination the film has to offer, but it also displays the overall tone for the movie. Anyway, the Djinn is stopped and encased in a small stone rather than the typical lamp. Cut to present day, or present day 1997 rather, and a rich art collector named Raymond Beaumont (played by Freddy Krueger himself, Robert Englund) is waiting for the latest statue for his collection to be unloaded off a boat. Unfortunately, a drunk dock worker spills his drink all over the controls, squishes Ted Raimi in his quick cameo and the statue smashes all over the ground. A worker cleaning up the mess notices a familiar looking stone and steals it after making sure no one was looking.
Having pawned the stone off, it eventually gets into the hands of an appraiser, Alexandra (Tammy Lauren) and her boss who is played by the rubber faced son of Jack Lemmon, Chris Lemmon and determine that the stone is worth quite a pretty penny. Alex awakens the Djinn by rubbing the stone on her shirt to clean it, which I have to admit is kind of an obvious clever way to do that since you had to have been wondering how they were gonna work the whole rubbing-the-magic-lamp thing into this. Even though the Djinn is awakened, he is not freed, at least not until Alex passes the stone off to her scientist friend who has the hots for her and he accidentally frees the Djinn who then takes the face (literally) of a corpse on the table to assume his human form. Now, this is where the film is its most entertaining, at least when there aren’t cool special effects on screen. The Djinn is played by Andrew Divoff who, when he isn’t buried under makeup and prosthetics, is quite a remarkable character actor. He speaks with a low, gravely, but commanding voice behind a very sinister, Joker-esque grin. Something I didn’t notice til much later in the film is that Andrew Divoff never blinks when he’s in human form and there’s something very unnerving about that. He’s a man who understands his character and really gets into the role. If you watch this movie for anything, it should definitely be for Andrew Divoff’s performance.
The Djinn is connected to the person who awoken them, so he now has to convince Alex to ask for three wishes, but before doing so, he’s gonna need to charge his batteries for the lack of a better pun. The only way to do that is to grant a person’s single wish in exchange for their soul. Seems like a fair trade to me. Souls are pretty much useless these days. Anyway, this is an easy way for the filmmakers to give the movie a body count, not that I am complaining. Since the Djinn twists his victim’s wishes, this is where Wishmaster gets really creative. Whether it’s tricking Tony Todd into making a wish that traps him in a famous Houdini-esque watery grave or Kane Hodder into glass… oh, that’s right. Candyman and Jason Voorhees also make cameos in this film. That’s one thing I love about it being directed by a really talented special effects guy; all the cameos. It’s actually with Kane Hodder’s character that we learn a very important piece of exposition. At this point in the film, you may be wondering that since the Djinn is all powerful, why doesn’t he just kill people or force Alex to make her three wishes? Well, while trying to enter a building where Alex is, he’s stopped by the security guard who won’t allow him to enter and gives him some trouble about it. He states that it’s frustrating to have all that power and only being able to use it when someone makes a wish. That’s a real smart way to give a being that’s all knowing, all powerful and immortal a serious achilles heel.
By now, Alex realizes that the visions she’s been having are a psychic connection with the Djinn who is tormenting her and she scrambles to stop him. Her story is somewhat uninteresting, but not so much so that you would want to shut off the film. She’s just a rather dull character. The climax of the film is nearly mirrors the opening via Beaumont’s wish, but it’s a little more gory. The special effects remain consistently great throughout the entire film and I should point out that they are so good, that if you pay attention, the little horns or tentacles (whatever they are) that are coming out of the Djinn’s head are always wiggling around. I thought that was a really unique touch and something I hadn’t seen before. Wishmaster takes an old fantasy tale that been watered down by children’s movies for far too long and really turns it on its head, making it a really fun movie to watch.
For Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies, they really took it by the horns and got nuts with it. Jack Sholder, who directed A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, directs this picture and I swear he must’ve lost his mind. Everything is dialed up, way up to the point of ridiculousness and some of it is so incomprehensible, you’ll be sitting there bug eyed, jaw dropped at some of the things you will see. I’ll tell you one, because it’s also somewhat sentimental to me. It was shortly after this started playing on HBO or Showtime, whichever, and my step brother and I tuned in right when a prisoner was telling this cartoonishly smirking jerk that he wishes his lawyer would go fuck himself. Sure enough, that man’s lawyer twists and folds over and begins to literally fuck himself. Do you have any idea how many guys out there wish they could do that? Alright, movie, enough with the hard sell. I’m already sold! And that’s not even the tip of the iceberg. That may have to go to the film’s finale that takes place at a casino where a woman playing craps actually craps quarters. Yes, that happens in a movie. Complete with fart sounds and all. But hey, let’s talk a little about how we get here.
Once again, the main characters we are supposed to follow are the most uninteresting. A goth chick, Morgana (Holly Fields) and her boyfriend are robbing the Beaumont’s art gallery when things go south, it turns into a shootout, a bullet cracks open the statue, the stone falls out, Morgana finds it and yeah, you see where I’m going. Her boyfriend is fatally wounded by a security who Morgana kills in return, but seems remorseful about it on and off throughout the film. She never turns herself in, but turns to her ex-lover turned beefy hunk priest, Eric, for advice. It’s a priest, what do you think he’s gonna say? God this and god that, blah, blah, blah, I have feelings for you, but I can’t touch your cute little butt, because god, blah, blah.
Taking the blame for Morgana’s crime, the Djinn is now in prison to collect souls. Trying to expand upon what the first film started, the Djinn now needs a thousand souls in order to grant Morgana’s three wishes. This is not only a great way to take the character and story back just a little step and let the climax build, but also allow for more really great random character deaths! Some of these aren’t nearly as outlandish as the first, but as I told you earlier, some of them are pretty damn absurd. A prison has plenty of fresh souls willing to do anything in exchange for a wish, but not nearly enough. Maybe the filmmakers didn’t quite think out this one thousand souls idea, because the final act of the film at the casino feels like a copout. Not only is there far more souls, but the Djinn is now just granting the greedy wishes he overhears rather than having one on one conversations with people like he has previously. It feels like a plot writing device, because the scripts needs it done and quick and it was the only thing they could think of at the moment.
Nevertheless, our really boring duo of the goth chick trying to solve a supernatural crime, which honestly sounds like a failed CW show, learn of a way to defeat the Djinn, one of which is death. Unfortunately for those doomed souls, we find out that Morgana can’t be killed at the moment as she is being magically protected by the Djinn. Seems rather contrived, but I guess how else would you explain something we’ve all been thinking. Regardless, they head of to the casino for the final showdown that’s pretty amusing, mostly due to all the people running around panicking and an increase in the level of gore. That’s something I didn’t notice until the end is that this film is far less gory than the original. They ramp everything else up except for the gore, which is a rather odd thing to do. Sequels are usually bigger and bloodier and while this one is bigger, gotta say, not as bloody.
You can definitely say that like the original, the human characters are the least interesting, but with Wishmaster 2… boy are they REALLY uninteresting. As cute as Holly Fields is in this film, I just didn’t care what was happening to her or her relationship with that human plank of wood priest as her love interest. They were so boring, I didn’t even notice how bad the acting was in the movie until the very end. Not that any of that really matter, because Andrew Divoff as the Djinn appears in this movie more than he did in the first and he steals every scene that he’s in. He’s the reason you watch these movies. Well, him and the good special effects and interesting death scenes and I gotta admit that this one does have some interesting ones. Aside from the two aforementioned ones, my favorite and probably the best looking was when a man tells the Djinn he wants to walk through the bars of his cell. Bad choice of words, bub.
The Djinn is really brought to life, made both frightening and funny kinda like Freddy Krueger by Andrew Divoff. If you take anything away from the first two films, it will be his performance. He’s an actor that can pull his role off whether he is behind all that makeup or not. With some actor’s performances, you can tell whether or not they are enjoying themselves and Andrew Divoff is clearly having the time of his life and it shows. If not for him, this character wouldn’t work and in retrospect, I wondered why more people haven’t heard of this character or why he’s not as remembered as Freddy or Jason… and then I saw Wishmaster 3: Beyond the Gates of Hell.
And now is where the series not just nose dives, but nose dives and hits the side of a mountain. Hard. We’re talking only a few survivors, but they eat each other to try and stay alive, but the last survivor has gone so mad, that he can no longer return to civilization. Wishmaster 3 is… well, it’s… shit. I have no words for it other than “it’s shit.” Rather than expanding on the previous idea or building a new one in what could perhaps be the Djinn’s mythos, the film decides it would rather be a run of the mill, stale, uninspired slasher film that were coming out a dime by the dozen at that time. And if you’re thinking Andrew Divoff is gonna save you, you’re wrong. He’s been replaced by some wormy, lanky British guy who reeks of being a rejected Buffy the Vampire villain. Come to think of it, that’s the best way to describe this movie; like it’s the worst kind of fantasy/drama that not even the WB would show. It’s like an aborted Buffy or Xena episode. Now I know everything thinks a bad movie somehow equates to good because it’s bad, but some movies are just bad and shouldn’t be watched.
Wishmaster 3 revolves around your typical, cliched group of college kids that you instantly don’t care about and they aren’t relatable. Ok, not off to a good start, but unfortunately they are out leads. The center of which is a non-descript student, Diana, whose professor has an unhealthy obsession with her. Come to find out, he’s kind of a sexual deviant, which seems to always be a staple with these college-kids-partying movies. Well wouldn’t you know it, the pair uncover the stone that contains the Djinn and Diana accidentally frees it and almost immediately assumes the identity of Professor Barash. This is a good time to mention that not only has the whole subplot about the Djinn needing a thousand souls to become more powerful been completely forgotten about, but it’s different actors playing the Djinn, one in makeup and one out. Neither manage to capture the character you’ve come to know and neither even come close to living up to Andrew Divoff’s performance. This makes the entire film a chore to sit through, that nothing is worth mentioning.
As I stated earlier, the film is now a early 2000s paint-by-numbers slasher and the most unwatchable variety. Hell, even most of the victims aren’t friends of Diana’s, but more classmates. They weren’t developed, but they dress kinda slutty, so I guess we are supposed to care? In an attempt to try something different, Diana’s boyfriend becomes possessed with the spirit of Michael, an angle that I guess hunts down the Djinn. Sure, that’s fine and all except the previous films had gone out of their way to say that religion has nothing to do with them. Now I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure magical genies aren’t in the bible. Maybe if the film had anything I cared about, I would be more upset about retconning the most obvious thing, but this comes off as so stupid it would be like making fun of the biggest idiot in your class when he does something stupid. It’s kind of redundant.
Wishmaster 3, for whatever reason, is one of those films that was made for the falsely angst, Hot Topic teen that assumes this movie is both horror and fantasy. Nothing about it sticks out, nothing about is fun, nothing about is any good. Everything from the lighting to the cinematography screams TV drama. Angles are stale and the camera rarely moves and I consider this a problem in horror and fantasy, because your shots and lighting and determine whether or not there is any mood. The special effects are pretty bad this time around. The Djinn looks exactly like what it is; a guy in a rubber suit and since we’re cutting costs, the tentacles no longer wiggle. None of the death scenes were memorable or at least worth mentioning. There’s nothing bloody or over the top violent or even creative. It’s so uninspired and lackluster that I actually had to pop the movie back in and watch some of them to be sure I didn’t miss one worth mentioning. I didn’t.
But all the hatred I feel for the third film is nothing like I feel toward Wishmaster 4: The Prophecy Fulfilled. You would think that this movie killed my family and left me for dead with the way I feel toward it. I was seriously dreading watching this one, knowing that there would be nothing of enjoyment to come out of it. For some reason, I want to hate it more than I hated Wishmaster 3, but I just can’t. Seeing as it was shot back to back with the third film, Wishmaster 4 is the same level of quality, if you want to call it that. My complaints are the same only I feel slightly stronger about them, because absolutely nothing was improved. I know, they were shot at right after each other, so there was no time to learn from mistakes. Both are directed by Chris Angel and I know you are all thinking the Mindfreak guy, but no. This is a guy who primarily directs awful video shorts. Clearly, he’s your candidate for a full length feature that relies heavily on special effects and mythology.
Would you believe that this film actually has worse characters than the ones in the previous film? I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s true. Bland college kids looking to party are the worst characters you could ever put into a movie, but Wishmaster 4 is full of sulking, overly brooding, self pitying characters that it’s impossible to even try and like them. The main two are a couple who seem to be so in love, having great sex and and drawing each other naked (you know, like every good relationship). The boyfriend, Sam, gets into an accident and can no longer walk, so he wheels himself around, drinking and feeling sorry for himself while being a total dick to his girlfriend, Lisa. Lisa also mopes around, but to her credit she at least tries to be caring toward Sam, even if most of the time it seems really spiteful. Their lawyer, Steven, is in love with Lisa and even offers her a gift that he accidentally drops and when it breaks open, wouldn’t you know it… the stone that contains the Djinn! How did it get there from the previous film? An explanation is never even attempted and quite frankly, I don’t care. Writing isn’t this film’s strongest feature.
The Djinn soon steals Steven’s face and if you thought the British guy from the previous movie was bad, hoo-boy. Wait’ll you get a load of this guy. He seems like he wants to emulate Andrew Divoff’s performance, but it comes off as a cheap Halloween discount store imitation. Rather than creepy and tongue in cheek, this performance is rather douchey and smarmy. Once again, he’s twisting people’s wishes and just as the previous film, none of them are memorable and not worth talking about. The only thing this film introduces that could have been really interesting was that Lisa actually makes three wishes, but there’s a catch; her third wish cannot be granted by the Djinn as she believes it’s Steven and wants to fall in love with him, so it’s up to her to grant her own wish. Unfortunately, the film fails at doing anything with this and almost seemingly forgets about it often. They also try to throw in another angelic figure that is now sent to kill Lisa so she can’t grant her third wish, although she already made it. Now, the film tries to be like The Terminator for a few moments as he chases Lisa like the T-1000 and trying to terminate her until he’s killed by the Djinn in a Highlander like sword battle. This film just can’t decide what it wants to be.
I would say it’s up to the viewer to decide, but it’s pretty unanimous that this film is total garbage. Like with the third movie in the series, Wishmaster 4 is unlikable and forgettable. Moments after seeing this you will ask yourself, “huh, did I just watch a movie?” Not to repeat myself, but nothing is memorable or worth mentioning. I could go on about the terrible special effects, but once again, I would just be repeating myself. Everything that made Wishmaster 3 a complete waste of time is present here at the same capacity.
All in all you could say that the Wishmaster Collection from Vestron Video is worth owning for the first two films alone and if you are some kind of masochist, then you can watch the last two. Personally, I have no desire to revisit Wishmaster 3 and 4 ever again, but upon watching the first two films, I had an urge to rewatch them. The first disc, which is all about the first film contains a good chunk of the bonus features that are worth checking out. There’s an audio commentary with the director Robert Kurtzman and writer Peter Atkins and another commentary track with Kurtzman and the Djinn himself, Andrew Divoff. There’s a good number of interviews with the cast and crew, including Kane Hodder, Tony Todd and Robert Englund, as well as a vintage making of featurette, some behind the scenes footage and the classic TV spots, trailers and so on. There’s enough for the first film to make this set worth it, but having Wishmaster 2 and all its bonus features is a plus, even if the bonuses are limited to an audio commentary with Jack Sholder, a trailer and the still gallery. Not that I’m complaining, because really that’s all you need for the second film. If you care, Wishmaster 3 and 4 also include audio commentaries, which may be worth it to hear if it’s delusional praise or to listen to them try and defend those movies. So the Djinn may not have the staying power or notoriety of Jason of Freddy, but he’s far better than Horace Pinker from Shocker or the Trickster from Brainscan. Whereas the two latter villains were made to be horror movie icons, the Djinn wasn’t. He just turned out to be interesting and played by a talented guy. Wel, the first two movies anyway, which I highly recommend if you are looking for extremely imaginative horror/fantasy flicks and as for the last two films, I’d encase them in a stone and cement them so that they never may be found and curse the poor fool who unearths them, bringing armageddon to the eyes of those who watch it.