DirectorRobert Kurtzman/Jack Sholder/Chris Angel
Release Date(s)1997-2002 (March 28, 2017)
Studio(s)LIVE/Artisan/Lionsgate (Vestron Video Collector’s Series)
- Film/Program Grade: See Below
- Video Grade: See Below
- Audio Grade: See Below
- Extras Grade: B+
- Overall Grade: B+
An evil wish-granting genie called the Djinn is loosed from its prison within a red jewel to bestow humans with their deepest desires, only to twist their choices to its own malevolent advantage. Collecting the souls of its victims one by one, each wish granted moves the Djinn further towards its goal, which is to bring others like it to Earth and reign supreme. So begins the Wishmaster series.
Spearheaded and executive produced by Wes Craven, Wishmaster is cited by many as the strongest entry into the series. Filled with clever ideas, well-executed gore effects, and a plot that moves fairly quickly, it’s certainly the most watchable of the four films. It also helps that KNB veteran Robert Kurtzman is sitting in the director’s chair, giving the movie some horror credibility. There’s also a number of familiar horror faces in the cast as well, including Robert Englund, Ted Raimi, Kane Hodder, Reggie Bannister, Joe Pilato, Tony Todd, and Tom Savini. Keen ears can also pick up on the late, great Angus Scrimm performing the opening narration. Andrew Divoff stars as the Djinn, and even though some of the other performances are a bit laughable, it’s an entertaining horror movie with something different to offer than most.
The sequels that came soon after were released directly to video, starting with Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies. This time around, Jack Sholder (A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2, The Hidden) directs. As a sequel, it’s only tied to the first movie by the Djinn itself and none of the surviving characters. Even with an over-the-top finale, which is the movie’s main highlight, it feels longer than it actually is and just isn’t as interesting or memorable. Wishmaster 3: Beyond the Gates of Hell has even less to work with. The movie’s main problem, other than Andrew Divoff not returning, is that most of the characters are difficult to get behind as they’re so poorly written, nevermind the humdrum story itself. Conversely, Wishmaster: The Prophecy Fulfilled has better characters and a better setup than its predecessor. Unfortunately, it’s barely about the Wishmaster at all, neglecting the horror and attempting to be a romantic drama of sorts. Because of this lack of focus, it’s actually worse by comparison. It also tries to slightly expand upon the Djinn mythology, but all hope of caring is lost by that point. It only underlines why the Wishmaster series doesn’t work much outside of one movie. It’s a one-shot premise, and the sequels forgot to have fun with it, which is what they needed in order to be interesting. Yet, for the most hopeful amongst us, there are moments throughout worth appreciating, just within subpar movies.
The transfer for Wishmaster is clean with strong levels of fine detail on display. Grain is pretty evenly-keeled with good depth and strong texturing. It has a slight overall softness to it and is never fully sharp, but it’s never an issue and comes off very filmic. Color reproduction is good and skin tones, although dipping into orange territory at times, are mostly uniform. Blacks aren’t thoroughly solid as grain tends to lighten them up from time to time, but shadow detailing comes through well. Overall brightness and contrast levels are also good. The elements for Wishmaster 2 are also in similar condition. It’s a tad softer than the previous transfer, but there’s excellent detailing and texturing on display. Grain is light, and there are next to no instances of damage leftover. Colors are good, but never great – the same goes for skin tones, which are uneven throughout. Blacks are decent while brightness and contrast levels manage to help bring out depth, mild though it may be. Wishmaster 3 and 4 are also solid. Shot back to back, they feature many of the same visual similarities. They’re slightly sharper compared to the first movie and have more clarity. Grain levels are stable with decent depth, color reproduction offers up some nice hues, skin tones are uneven but mostly pink, blacks are solid, and brightness and contrast levels are satisfactory. They’re actually the strongest presentations of the bunch.
The audio selection for each of the four movies is interesting. There’s no uniformity to them as they all offer different presentations. For Wishmaster, there’s an English 2.0 DTS-HD track available, which is incorrectly listed on the case as a 5.1 track. Just as a note, it was released previously on DVD with a 5.1 presentation, but hasn’t been replicated here. It’s a solid stereo soundtrack with decent dynamics and clear dialogue. Everything is prioritized well enough with occasional speaker-to-speaker activity, but there’s nothing overly showy about the presentation as a whole. For Wishmaster 2, there’s an English 5.1 DTS-HD track (also misidentified as a standard 5.0 track). Low end activity is patchy and the mix seems a little muddled at times, but dialogue reproduction is good and both sound effects and score have decent heft. The audio for Wishmaster 3 comes as an English 2.0 DTS-HD track, which is strange as the final Wishmaster film comes with a 5.1 track. Regardless, it’s decent with some mild stereo movement and clear, discernible dialogue. The score also has some nice depth and sound effects play their part well. Low end is also lacking, making for a good, but not great stereo presentation. The final Wishmaster film, which as previously mentioned comes with an English 5.1 DTS-HD audio track, has a little more punch than its predecessors. Low end is definitely improved, along with clear dialogue, strong sound effects & score, and active surround activity. It’s the best track of the lot, overall. Each film carries subtitles in English SDH, while the last two offer an additional option in Spanish.
WISHMASTER (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): B-/B/B
WISHMASTER 2: EVIL NEVER DIES (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): C+/B/B
WISHMASTER 3: BEYOND THE GATES OF HELL (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): D/B+/B
WISHMASTER: THE PROPHECY FULFILLED (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): D-/B+/B+
As for the extras selection, the sequels don’t offer much, but the original on the first disc gets a vast amount of them. There are two audio commentaries, one with director Robert Kurtzman and screenwriter Peter Atkins, and the other with Kurtzman and actors Andrew Divoff and Tammy Lauren. In addition, there’s an isolated score track containing an audio interview conducted by Michael Felsher with composer Harry Manfredini. New featurette material includes 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 actors Andrew Divoff and Tammy Lauren; Captured Visions, an interview with director of photography Jacques Haitkin; and Wish List, interviews with actors Robert Englund, Kane Hodder, and Ted Raimi. You’ll also find both the teaser and theatrical trailers; 7 TV spots; 2 radio spots; the Wicked Wishes: Making the Wishmaster vintage featurette; a vintage EPK featurette; a compilation of behind the scenes footage; an animated storyboard gallery; and an animated still gallery.
On the second disc containing Wishmaster 2, there’s an audio commentary with writer/director Jack Sholder, moderated by Michael Felsher; the movie’s video trailer; and an animated still gallery. On the third disc, there’s an audio commentary for Wishmaster 3 with director Chris Angel and actors John Novak, Jason Connery, and Louisette Geiss; the vintage making of Wishmaster 3: Beyond the Gates of Hell featurette; and a video trailer. On the same disc are two audio commentaries for Wishmaster 4: one with director Chris Angel and actors Michael Trucco and Jason Thompson, and another with director Chris Angel and actor John Novak. There’s also the Wishmasterpiece Theatre featurette and the movie’s video trailer. Not carried over from the fourth movie’s extras on its previous DVD release is The Djinn’s Guide to Dating: A Question and Answer Session and a storyboard gallery, which was likely left out due to space constraints.
It’s clear that the Wishmaster series really should have ended after the first two movies, perhaps even the first. It’s a concept that has limited potential. The sequels opted to try and take it more seriously, which wound up being a mistake in the long run. If you enjoy the series, or even just the first film, then Vestron Video’s Blu-ray collection of the four movies should be a priority.
- Tim Salmons