Horror’s Icons: The Wishmaster
A Wish for a Soul
In 1997, Wes Craven produced the horror film Wishmaster and with it created a new horror villain to go along with the others he had already unleashed on the world. And while this film never gained the notoriety that most of his others have, the original film is still a good classic horror movie. And the Wishmaster himself is a great creature that horror fans should appreciate.
The Wishmaster is a Djinn, an evil being that lives in a jewel and when unleashed collects the souls of humans. He gains these souls by granting the wishes of people but granting them in a way that is deadly. Once he is able to grant three wishes from the person that unleashed him, the entire race of Djinn will be released on Earth to take over the planet. Basically, the dude is a genie with evil intentions. Let’s be clear that this is not the Robin Williams’ voiced Genie from Disney’s Aladdin.
The Djinn is actually a monster that is somewhat derived from real life. Unlike most villains, the Djinn is something that has been written about. In the Qur’an, the religious text of the Muslims, the Djinn inhabit an unseen world in dimensions that are invisible to the human eye. And the movie version is not that much different. When locked away, the Wishmaster lives in a jewel where he cannot be seen or noticed by humans. But when someone breaks the jewel, this ancient creature comes to Earth looking for blood.
In the first film, the jewel is buried inside an ancient statue. While moving the artifact, a worker that has been drinking drops the statue and the jewel is stolen by another worker. The gem is then sold to a pawn store and taken to someone to check it authenticity. After trying to cut into it with a laser, the jewel is broken and the Djinn is unleashed.
After granting a few wishes, he finds a corpse and proceeds to take the face of the corpse for himself. Now looking like every other human being, and named Nathaniel Demerest, the Djinn is free to walk around granting wishes for anyone in need. But when he grants a wish, there are grave consequences. Not only does he gain your soul but the person making the wish dies. In Wishmaster, a sales clerk wished to be beautiful forever. And she was when the Wishmaster turned her into a mannequin. I’m pretty sure that’s not what she had in mind.
Anyways, the Djinn was eventually stopped by his own set of rules. When the woman that freed him put her mind to it, she made a wish that would send the Wishmaster back to where he came from. Down to her last wish, she wished that the worker that was drinking had not been boozing on the job. This meant that the statue would never have been broken, keeping the jewel hidden. After this, the creature was sent back into his own dimension. The Djinn was gone, for now.
He would make his return in Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies and try to create Hell on Earth again. This time, keeping his same human form and name, he purposefully got sent to prison. This was a brilliant move. Where else are there so many people willing to sell their soul for a wish? He stayed in prison collecting souls like a hobby until he ran that well dry. Then after breaking out, Nathaniel searched down the woman who unleashed him. He pressures her to make her wishes so he can free his brethren on Earth.
When the woman that unleashed him found the jewel, she was in the middle of a robbery. A guard that was trying to stop her was accidentally killed. When she finally meets the Wishmaster at the end, she has cleaned up her life and tries to make her wrongs right. She wishes that the guard that was killed was alive. When she senses that he is alive and well, she recites a chant that she learned of that would send the Djinn back to his world. She says the chant, “Nib Sugaroth Baheim”, and the Wishmaster is sent back to his world. Once again, the Wishmaster is fooled and, in the end, fails at his attempt to bring his kind to Earth.
Wishing for a Better Movie
The Wishmaster series was not done, but maybe it should have been. While the evil being was brought back for two more features, the movies made a mockery of a decent horror franchise. The problem wasn’t the Djinn as he was as violent and deadly as ever. It was the story and acting that left me wishing I had that 3 hours back. Despite the fact that Wishmaster 3: Beyond the Gates of Hell and Wishmaster 4: The Prophecy Fulfilled were duds, the Wishmaster himself is the focus here and he was still as much a horror villain as ever.
In the third chapter, the Wishmaster took the human form of Professor Barash, a professor at the “local university” and he proceeds to lure and kill whoever needs a wish granted. In the end, the Djinn is killed when the girl that awaken him wishes for the angel Michael to come to Earth and fight him. I’m dead serious folks. Not even I could make that shit up. But, Michael does show up with a sword straight out of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and slays the Djinn.
Wishmaster 4: The Prophecy Fulfilled saw the Djinn return and take the human form of a lawyer. An evil entity taking the form of the profession most people view as evil. If that isn’t a match made in Hell I don’t know what is. Anyways, the typical story proceeds: murder, wishes, blood, nudity, final battle. In the end, the Djinn is sent back home again when someone wishes for a weapon to kill him and that damn sword makes a return.
The fourth entry in the series came out in 2002 and since then the evil genie has laid dormant. After the last two films, I think that may be the best thing. Will he ever make a return? If there’s anything I know about horror, it’s never say never. Maybe one day someone will try to steer the franchise the right way. There may be future sequels that continue to take the Wishmaster franchise to absurd lows. And we have all seen Hollywood’s love for remakes with all the horror films of the 70’s and 80’s that were remade. Who’s to say that one day in the future the horror films of the 90’s won’t get there remakes. Who knows. All I know is that the evil Djinn is still a horror icon to me no matter what direction his films took or will take.
The Unsung Men that Portrayed the Wishmaster
The Wishmaster is a horror villain with not as much fanfare as others. But the men who played the title character are even less known. The original and most popular is Andrew Divoff. Divoff’s portrayal of the Djinn/Nathaniel Demerest is the best. While in human form, Divoff gave the genie a psychotic, crazed look that is unrivaled by the others that have portrayed him. Divoff has been acting for over 20 years but has not had a breakout role. Most of his filmography includes small budget films or small roles in bigger films. Wishmaster may have been his biggest role. It is probably what most people would recognize his name from. But, sad to say that even in this film, he may have been overshadowed by the cameos from other horror actors. Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street), Kane Hodder (Friday the 13th), Tony Todd (Candyman), Angus Scrimm (Phantasm) and others were all a part of the film in some way. This was a collection of horror icons like none other. However, Divoff’s performance of the Wishmaster is the best and should be remembered as such.
In the third and fourth films, the evil genie was portrayed by John Novak. Novak is a voice actor that has done numerous animated voice jobs along with playing the Djinn creature. The roles of the Djinn in human form were played by other actors however. In the third film, Professor Barash was played by Jason Connery. Connery is the son of legendary actor Sean Connery. While I do not want to put the man down, he definitely did not end up with the career his father had. And in the fourth film, the lawyer, Steven, was played by Michael Trucco, who would later have roles on the popular TV shows Battlestar Galactica and Fairly Legal among others.
I believe all of these actors did a good job portraying the villain, but they were not as good as Divoff. Maybe I’m partial because the movies were in were not as good as the first two. I’m not sure. I just think that the original was the best. Divoff created the Wishmaster character on screen and the others just simply were not him.
A Wish to Die For
The Wishmaster series is definitely not remembered as a top horror franchise. But here at Blog 4 Dat, I want to give every horror icon that I grew up with their day in the sun. The Djinn was an evil creature created for film but with some mention in real life. This was different than most villains in horror history. Sure, some were based off of real life psychos, but most were created with a pad and a pen and some imagination. And while I’m not saying that’s bad, I just liked the story behind the Djinn.
The original Wishmaster and its sequel are good late-night horror flicks. If you haven’t seen them, give them a shot. I think you can find them both in the $5 dump bin at most stores. And if its not for you, then its just not for you. Not everyone likes the same thing. I’m just putting out what I want to write about and what I have liked in horror throughout my life.
And next time will be no different as I look into another horror icon from a smaller film series that made an impact in the horror world. Created by Clive Barker, the Candyman scared many in three films. And we will see what the Candyman was all about in the next chapter of Horror’s Icons.