The Wishmaster Collection Blu-ray (Vestron Video Collector’s Series)
Directors: Robert Kurtzman, Jack Sholder, Chris Angel
Writers: Peter Atkins, Jack Sholder, Alex Wright, John Martin
Cast: Tammy Lauren, Andrew Divoff, Kane Hodder, Tony Todd, Robert Englund, Reggie Bannister, Ted Raimi, Holly Fields, Paul Johannson, Jason Connery, A.J. Cook, Jason Thompson, Tara Spencer-Nairn, Michael Trucco, Kimberly Huie, John Novak
Rated R | 370 minutes
Release Date: March 2018, 2017
“Once, in a time before time, God breathed life into the universe. And the light gave birth to Angels. And the earth gave birth to Man. And the fire gave birth to the Djinn, creatures condemned to dwell in the void between the worlds. One who wakes a Djinn will be given three wishes. Upon the granting of the third, the unholy legions of the Djinn will be freed to rule the earth. Fear one thing in all there is… fear the Djinn.”
In the Wishmaster series, an evil djinn grants three wishes to the person who releases him, fulfilling a prophecy that will unleash his fellow djinn upon the earth and plunge the world into eternal damnation. For the first time, the horror-fantasy series will be available on Blu-ray on March 28, 2017, from Lionsgate’s Vestron Video Collector’s Series label. The three-disc set includes all four films, restored and remastered, plus never-before-seen special features.
1997’s Wishmaster, directed by special make-up effects artist turned filmmaker Robert Kurtzman, is an extremely watchable late ’90s horror flick with some gruesome special effects and cameos from horror icons like Kane Hodder (the Friday the 13th series), Tony Todd (Candyman), Robert Englund (the A Nightmare on Elm Street series), Angus Scrimm and Reggie Bannister (Phantasm), and Ted Raimi (the Evil Dead series). Hell, even Joseph Pilato (Rhodes in 1985’s Day of the Dead), George ‘Buck’ Flower (The Fog, They Live), and Ricco Ross (Pvt. Frost in James Cameron’s Aliens) show up. It’s one of the craziest casts assembled for a horror movie – “The Expendables of Horror,” long before The Expendables was even a thing.
As for the movie itself, the story follows a djinn (Andrew Divoff, of Air Force One and ABC’s Lost), a wish-granting, evil genie who is released from a jewel and seeks to capture the soul of the woman (Tammy Lauren) who discovered him, thereby opening a portal and freeing his fellow djinn to inhabit the earth. I wouldn’t go so far to say that Wishmaster is a great movie, but it’s insanely fun to watch. If you’re a fan of schlock, you may find some value in Kurtzman’s film, but overall it’s just a few very elaborate gore gags holding together a paper-thin plot and some pretty bad performances.
With that being said, Wishmaster is without question the best of the series. Things only get dumber and more lackluster with 1999’s direct-to-DVD effort, Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies, written and directed by Jack Sholder (A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge). Divoff returns to reprise his role of the Djinn, except this time he’s in prison, where he kills inmates by purposely misconstruing their wishes. For example, a prisoner wants out of his holding cell, so he liquefies the dude into a gooey, steaming skeleton that easily slides between the bars of the cell. Later, the Djinn ends up in a casino, where he makes a lady playing craps crap herself, causing the middle-aged woman to shit a never-ending stream of gold coins. Yep, that’s a thing that actually happens in this movie. This is Leprechaun 3 level shenanigans.
Wishmaster 3: Beyond the Gates of Hell (2001) and Wishmaster: The Prophecy Fulfilled (2002) are two direct-to-DVD releases directed by Chris Angel. No, not the magical star of Criss Angel: Mindfreak, but rather the filmmaker responsible for 1999’s The Fear: Resurrection. These two movies feel less like horror films and more like Cinemax softcore porn parodies of horror films. Both are plagued by bad performances, atrocious writing, and laughable effects, and test the patience of even the most diehard fan of “So Bad It’s Good” movies.
At one point, in Wishmaster 4, the Djinn (now played by Michael Trucco and John Novak) is in a strip club chatting it up with a bartender who has the hots for the dancer on stage. Making conversation, the bartender says, “I’d sell my soul just to be a pimple on her ass.” Of course, the Djinn considers this a wish and grants it immediately. The bartender fades away into thin air, but unfortunately, we’re never treated to a closeup shot of his head as a pimple on the dancer’s backside – I guess they didn’t have the budget to pull off such a dazzling special effect. Bummer.
Overall, The Wishmaster Collection is only for the most hardcore of fans – completists who for some reason need all four Wishmaster films on high-definition Blu-ray, or simply can’t miss an entry in Lionsgate’s Vestron Video Collector’s Series lineup. The first entry is worth a look, but I’m not sure it’s worth the suggested retail of $49.99 the collection is priced at. Still, the new transfers and special features may be worth it to fans looking to upgrade. Restored and remastered, the set features 1080p high-definition transfers (16×9 widescreen) from the original film elements with English 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio.
The Wishmaster Collection comes with an exhaustive amount of newly produced bonus materials. For Wishmaster, there are two audio commentaries: one with Kurtzman and screenwriter Peter Atkins, and one with Kurtzman and stars Andrew Divoff and Tammy Lauren. Also included are isolated score selections and an audio interview with composer Harry Manfredini, as well as several new featurettes, including Out of the Bottle – with interviews with Kurtzman and co-producer David Tripet – and The Magic Words, an interview with Atkins, who also wrote Hellbound: Hellraiser II, Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth, and Hellraiser: Bloodline.
There’s also The Djinn and Alexandra, featuring interviews with Divoff and Lauren, Captured Visions, an interview with director of photography Jacques Haitkin, and Wish List, with actors Kane Hodder and Ted Raimi. There’s also a vintage featurette, Making of Wishmaster, as well as your standard assortment of trailers, TV and radio spots, storyboard and still galleries, and a behind-the-scenes footage compilation – and that’s just the first disc!
Disc 2 features an audio commentary with writer-director Jack Sholder, as well as a trailer and still gallery. Disc 3 includes a Wishmaster 3 commentary with director Chris Angel and cast members Novak, Jason Connery, and Louisette Geiss, and a vintage featurette: Making of Wishmaster 3: Beyond the Gates of Hell. For Wishmaster 4, there’s two more commentaries – one with Angel and cast members Trucco and Jason Thompson, and another with Angel and Novak. There’s also Wishmasterpiece Theatre, a short featurette that takes a humorous approach to exploring the production of the film.
The Wishmaster Collection is now available at Amazon (which has it for less, at $38.69). Find reviews of previous Vestron Video Collector’s Series releases here!