Everyone has that one film. That one film you were far too young to see. That one film that invariably forced a small Malteser shaped poo into your nine-year-old self’s Doctor Who/Star Wars/He-Man/Rainbow Bright pants. Whether it be staying up late with a mum or dad to watch RoboCop, Alien or (god forbid) Harley Davidson and the Marlborough Man, these are undoubtedly the films that awoke that dormant spirit in you that now consumes every piece of genre entertainment it can lay its ever discerning mitts on. These illicit childhood viewings made us.
For many, one such film is Wishmaster. The premise is simple. A Djinn from the farthest stretches of time is brought to the present day by some funky gem based shenanigans, intent on granting three wishes to the poor soul that unleashed him in order that his hordes of minions can wreak hell on earth. It’s that simple. There are no twists to speak of and the dialogue itself is as ripe as a ball of stilton kept in a pair of old socks. The direction is pretty poor too, with the same style and aesthetic as a first series episode of Buffy.
The acting follows this trend, aside from Andrew Divoff as the Djinn, who chows down on the scenery like it’s his last meal. True, he may look like a Power Rangers villain, but we won’t hold that against him.
Somehow, though, through all this Wishmaster is a joy to behold. It’s a perennial worry that revisiting a movie like this can be an exercise in nostalgia-fuelled disappointment, but Wishmaster stands up based on its sheer energy alone. It’s a film that knows it is ridiculous. It knows it isn’t high-brow and embraces its failings in script and performance. The kills are inventive, bloody and for the most part entirely practical. There are a plethora of cameos from horror icons, including one Mister Tony Todd and a certain Kane Hodder.
It is because it doesn’t aim to be clever, or attempt to be a genre classic that makes it a genre classic. This is a date night movie. This is Friday night after the pub movie. This is a horror and a comedy. This is something to watch with your mates. It is a film that will leave you grinning like a fool.
While it would be remiss to place it up there with the likes of Alien or RoboCop, not all of us were fortunate enough to discover this world of the weird and wonderful through the ‘classics’. Instead, some of us started our journey with Wishmaster and through its unbridled sense of silliness; it is our ‘classic’, our entrance to the genre. What more could we wish for?
WISHMASTER (1997) / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: ROBERT KURTZMAN / SCREENPLAY: PETER ATKINS / STARRING: TAMMY LAUREN, ANDREW DIVOFF, ROBERT ENGLUND / RELEASE DATE: FEBRUARY 26TH