Wishmaster Collection – Review (Vestron Video Blu-ray)
When Vestron Video announced they were releasing the Wishmaster series on Blu-ray, I’m sure the reaction was pretty mixed. Most were probably excited to finally get the first movie on Blu-ray, and some were probably blown away by the fact there were more than two movies in the series. I fell into the middle of the pack, as I love the first movie, enjoyed the second and completely washed the third and fourth from my memory, so I was interested in checking them out again. They can’t be that bad, right?
Boy, was I wrong. The first Wishmaster, of course, is the clear winner of all four movies, whereas the second movie tries to up the ante with a grander story and Andrew Divoff chewing scenery left, right and centre. The third and fourth Wishmaster films on the other hand, which were shot back to back, and replaced one of the best things the previous movies had (Andrew Divoff), forced the viewer to slog through two godawful stories.
Having two awful movies on a four pack box set might be a hard sell for Vestron Video, but they make the sting a bit easier by producing a wonderful amount of special features for the first movie. The others in the series get a bit of the shaft when it comes to features, but they at least include commentaries and the third and fourth include vintage featurettes. The video, however, isn’t going to win any awards, as each film is only a slight upgrade from the DVD that came before. Yes, things are a bit clearer, but I wouldn’t exactly call this Blu-ray quality. Also, the film’s audio has a tendency of having the dialogue low and all other sounds high. It’s quite annoying when you need to raise and lower your volume while watching a movie.
Anyway, that’s the gist of the Blu-ray, but if you want to know more about the films and some of the features, read on to get a breakdown/review of each film in the now dead as a doornail Wishmaster series.
We are going to start things off right and begin with the first movie on its own disc. Sidenote, if you are expecting fancy artwork on each disc, don’t. Each disc has the same artwork and are labelled as Disc 1, 2 and 3. Lazy if you ask me.
The year was 1997, and the slasher craze was taken over by the Scream franchise. No more was Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger and Candyman (Candyman doesn’t return until 1999’s Candyman: Day of the Dead) slashing up the screens. Instead, we had Ghostface to contend with. So, when Wishmaster came along in 1997, starring Andrew Divoff, Robert Englund, Kane Hodder, Tony Todd and plenty of other horror genre staples, the drool from horror fans mouths started to flow. Directed by FX master Robert Kurtzman of KNB Effects, written by Hellraiser vet Peter Atkins, Wishmaster was a wet dream for horror fans aplenty.
Andrew Divoff plays an evil Djinn, who is released from his cage to twists people’s wishes and steal their souls. The Djinn needs to grant three wishes to the individual who freed him (Tammy Lauren as Alexandra Amberson), and after the third wish, his race of evil Djinn can be free to raise hell on Earth.
The joy of Wishmaster comes from watching Andrew Divoff smirk his way through the evil role, manipulating people’s wishes and watching victims die in gory fashion, all thanks to the lovely work of KNB. The story is pretty simple, and there are plenty of moments of horrific joy to be had with this movie. I really can’t throw anything negative at Wishmaster, as the fun outweighs the bad. Yes, there is some sketchy acting, and the late 90s fashion is scary enough, but all of this goes to the wayside when the gore splashes the screen.
The Blu-ray disc for Wishmaster is where all the goodies are. You have plenty of newly shot interviews with the cast and crew, commentaries and a couple of ported over DVD features to watch. Just so everyone is aware, the package incorrectly lists this movie as 5.1 audio, but it’s 2.0 audio. Check out the list:
WISHMASTER SPECIAL FEATURES
Director Robert Kurtzman and screenwriter Peter Atkins
Director Robert Kurtzman and stars Andrew Divoff and Tammy Lauren
Isolated Score Selections/Audio Interview with composer Harry Manfredini
“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 stars Andrew Divoff and Tammy Lauren
“Captured Visions” – An Interview with director of photography Jacques Haitkin
“Wish List” – Interviews with actors Kane Hodder and Ted Raimi
Vintage Featurette: “Making of Wishmaster”
Trailers, Spots, Galleries: Teaser & Theatrical Trailers, TV & Radio Spots, Storyboard & Still Galleries
Behind-the-Scenes Footage Compilation
Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies
With the joy of the first movie behind us, it is with sadness I deliver the news that the Wishmaster series has already gone downhill with the second film in the series. Thankfully, Andrew Divoff returns to the evil Djinn role, but this time around he is chewing so much scenery, he barely has time to don the Djinn costume.
Continuing from the first movie, the Djinn is released from the jewel he was banished to and begins to once again twist people’s wishes for their souls. For some reason, the Djinn now needs 1001 souls first, and then he can grant the three wishes from the Waker (this time played by Holly Fields). The story had the Djinn ending up in prison, where you think the story would go all out crazy with twisted wishes and blood and gore, but sadly that is not the case. Instead, we get one hilarious wish granted and a few lame ones. The story decides to spend more time with Holly Fields’ character, Morgana, who loves to decorate her home with full frontal nude photos of women (God bless her dirty soul).
Sadly, Wishmaster 2 cannot live up to the first one. The film had the chance to go to town with crazy wishes and gore, but most of them are played for gags and nothing else. Also, screenwriter/director Jack Sholder should be ashamed that he can’t follow the origins set out in the first movie, a film that only came out a year earlier.
Vestron blew their wad on the first Wishmaster, so this time around we only get a commentary, trailer and still gallery.
WISHMASTER 2: EVIL NEVER DIES SPECIAL FEATURES
Audio Commentary with writer/director Jack Sholder
Wishmaster 3: Beyond the Gates of Hell
Do I need to talk about the third and fourth Wishmaster sequels? Do you really want to know what they are about and if you should check them out? Fine, but I don’t get paid enough to do this.
Wishmaster 3: Beyond the Gates of Hell introduces us to a new Djinn, played terribly by John Novak (what’s up with that voice?). Any good special effects are thrown out the window, and the film now reeks of Direct to Video awfulness.
A.J. Cook plays someone I don’t care about, who wakes the Djinn and must team up with the Archangel Michael and defeat the Djinn. In the meantime, the Djinn takes over the appearance of the rapist teacher Professor Joel Barash (Jason Connery) and goes about granting wishes that are beyond lame. Shoot me now!!!
The problem with Wishmaster 3 is that it is way too boring. Nothing happens and the wishes that the Djinn grants are pretty lame, save for one where a girl wants to lose some weight. I guess the only good thing to say about the movie is seeing A.J. Cook wearing a tight top and it being awfully cold out if you know what I mean.
Vestron knows the movie isn’t that great and the special features prove that. Commentary with director Chris Angel (Chris, not Criss) and some vintage featurettes is what you get to sit through.
WISHMASTER 3: BEYOND THE GATES OF HELL SPECIAL FEATURES
Audio Commentary with director Chris Angel and cast members John Novak, Jason Connery, and Louisette Geiss
Vintage Featurette: “Making of Wishmaster 3: Beyond the Gates of Hell”
Wishmaster 4: The Prophecy Fulfilled
Shot pretty much the next weekend after Wishmaster 3, Wishmaster 4 brings back the same Djinn, but scraps everyone else. This time around we see Battlestar Galactica star Michael Trucco playing the Djinn’s skinsuit. The Waker is played by Tara Spencer-Nairn, who loves to bare her breasts (yay!!!). The film follows the same formula as the previous movie, blessed sword fights and all. This time around, though, we get a bit more nudity, which is always a good thing.
As for the story, it goes a bit like this. The Djinn is released and takes over a lawyers body and can manipulate his Waker into granting her three wishes. However, the third wish involves the Waker falling in love with the Djinn for who he really is. Cue a bunch of nonsense and Djinn shenanigans. At least this movie is a bit more exciting than the previous one. Mainly cause boobies.
WISHMASTER 4: THE PROPHECY FULFILLED SPECIAL FEATURES
Director Chris Angel and cast members Michael Trucco and Jason Thompson
Director Chris Angel and actor John Novak
Featurette: “Wishmasterpiece Theatre”
The Big Question
Should you buy the Vestron Video Wishmaster Collection Blu-ray? Well, let’s break it down, shall we? The average cost (USD) of a Vestron Blu-ray is anywhere from $25 to $30. This set is currently selling for roughly $40. Let’s say you are a huge fan of the first movie that means you are paying the average cost of $25 for the first movie, leaving the remainder of the cost at $15. $15 for three movies isn’t that bad of a deal, especially considering the second Wishmaster isn’t terrible. Science aside, I can’t see you going wrong if you decide to plunk the money down for the set, as the first Wishmaster movie is a damn big amount fun. And, a lot of people seem to get a kick out of the second one as well.
I say buy it… unless you’re Canadian like me and the math goes like this: Average Vestron cost is $45 to $50. Wishmaster Collection cost $64. No one in their right mind should be paying $45 for one movie. Fin.