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    Ian Jane
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  • Wishmaster Collection



    Released by: Vestron Video/Lionsgate
    Released on: March 28th, 2017.
    Director: Robert Kurtzman, Jack Sholder
    Cast: Tammy Lauren, Andrew Divoff, Robert Englund, Holly Fields, John Novak
    Year: 1997/1999/2001/2002
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Movies:

    Vestron Video continues its deep dive into the Lionsgate vaults with their latest release, the four film/three disc Wishmaster Collection. Here's a look at the four movies contained within!

    Wishmaster:

    The first film in the series was the second film directed by special effects guru Robert Kurtzman. When it begins we witness a prologue (narrated by none other than the late, great Angus Scrimm) that takes place in ancient Persia where a sinister Djinn (played by Andrew Divoff under a lot of makeup) is imprisoned inside a giant red gem. This gem, in turn, is put inside a statue where, theoretically at least, it will hold the gem and the Djinn and keep it from escaping and wreaking havoc.

    Cut to the modern day of 1997. Here an antiquities expert (Robert Englund) has purchased a rare statue. As it's being lifted off of the boat it crashes down and crushes a man (Ted Raimi). A man finds the gem and brings it to an auction house where a guy named Josh (Tony Crane) is to appraise it for his boss (Chris Lemmon), but he needs help from gal-pal Alexandra (Tammy Lauren). Eventually, the gem breaks and the Djinn escapes, but this time around he's able to take on human form.

    The Djinn's sole purpose? To trick people into giving up their souls in exchange for a granted wish. He works his magic on a bum (George 'Buck' Flower), a pretty clothing store attendant and a few other souls unlucky enough to be easily manipulated. But there's more - he's got to track down the person that freed him and, in exchange for three granted wishes, free the fest of his kind.

    Featuring cameos not only from some fun genre stars already mentioned but also Tony Todd, Kane Hodder, Joe Pilato, Dan Hicks, Verne Troyer and Bizarre's own John Byner (!!), Wishmaster was also produced by none other than Wes Craven and features a score from Harry Mandredini. There are a lot of interesting people involved in this one - and the movie itself is a lot of fun so long as you don't need to take it too seriously. The story is pretty goofy but some of the effects set pieces are great, a highlight being a scene in which a skeleton pops out of a guy's body and goes on the attack. There's some good gore here and the prosthetic/makeup effects used to turn Divoff into the Djinn are pretty great. A few scenes employ some late nineties era CGI - that's never good - but outside of that, the effects holds up rather well.

    Divoff is the real reason to watch the movie, however. He's got that crazy dark speaking voice that he uses so well here and he's a lot of fun as the film's heavy. Tammy Lauren is okay as the female lead and Englund does alright in his supporting part but this is definitely Divoff's show all the way. This isn't deep, and it's more than a little goofy in spots, but the first Wishmaster film is entertaining enough to hold up.

    Wishmaster 2 - Evil Never Dies

    Made shortly after the original film, this first sequel was directed by Jack Sholder, the man who gave us A Nightmare On Elm Street Part 2. The second film picks up where the first one left off, with the Djinn once again trapped inside a gemstone. Said gemstone is currently on display in a museum. How unfortunate then that two dopey thieves break in and steal it. When the fuzz shows up to stop them, the gem gets broken in the ensuing firefight and he is free once again (and played by Andrew Divoff once again as well).

    As such, he heads back into the wild to kill a whole bunch of people and once again try to bring about a new age for his fellow Djinns. There's a kink in this plan when he winds up getting arrested but he takes to prison life rather well and as you'd guess, he manages to trick a few of his fellow inmates. He eventually heads to Las Vegas. Trying to track him down is Morgana (Holly Fields), one of the thieves that was responsible for freeing him, accompanied by a kindly priest named Gregory (Paul Johansson). Morgana initially has no idea she's freed the Djinn but starts to suspect something is up once she's plagued with terrible nightmares and eventually, of course, there's a showdown between the Djinn and the human that freed it.

    This one basically follows the same formula laid down in the first movie. The locations change up in interesting ways - seeing Divoff doing his thing in prison is amusing and provides ample opportunity for the evil genie to trick a whole lot of gullible people - but the story doesn't deviate that much. Regardless, once again Divoff is a lot of fun to watch here. He has this mischievous twinkle in his eye anytime his character knows he's about to sucker someone into making a bad deal, it's kind of amusing - it makes the bad one liners and hokey jokes that he cracks a bit more tolerable. In Divoff's hands, the goofiness inherent in the storyline doesn't seem quite so goofy, because he's really a blast to watch in the part. Holly Fields is cute and doesn't do bad in the lead, but Paul Johansson as Father Gregory is more or less just annoying.

    This sequel was made on a lower budget so the effects set pieces aren't are impressive. Additionally, the gore is toned down a little bit here. That said, the kill scenes are creative and inspired and definitely play towards the movie's wicked sense of humor. There's still some decent splatter effects now and then but it's not as over the top as what we were treated to in the original picture. Still, Wishmaster II: Evil Never Dies is an entertaining follow up. Not a classic, mind you, but a fun way to kill an hour and a half in front of the television. Also be on the lookout for a blink and you'll miss it appearance from none other than Corey Feldman as one of the thieves in the museum scene (he was dating Fields at the time this movie was made).

    Wishmaster 3 - Beyond The Gates Of Hell:

    Hands down the weakest film of the four, Wishmaster 3 - Beyond The Gates Of Hell introduces us to a woman named Diana Collins (A.J. Cook) who works as a teacher's assistant at a fancy ivy league college. Here, under the tutelage of Professor Joel Barash (Jason Connery), she studies the ancient religions of the world.

    Her seemingly normal world is turned upside down one day when she comes across a puzzle left for one of Barash's contemporaries. Diana solves the strange puzzle and in doing so, unleashes - you guessed it, the Djinn (this time played not by Divoff but by John Novak). In typical Djinn style he wants to grant she who freed him three wishes, once again to free his fellow Djinns from captivity. In order to do this, he takes over Barash's body and sets out to find Diana, tricking her friends literally to death the closer he gets to her. As one of Diana's three wishes, she summons St. Michael (Tobias Mehler), the archangel, to fight for her - amazingly enough, it works, though he inhabits the body of her boyfriend Greg (also played by Mehler).

    This one is pretty bad. While the second film was a step down in quality from the first, at least it was entertaining but this third film, despite the inclusion of a warrior angel, really just feels like it's going through the motions. The absence of Divoff is a big strike against the picture, John Novak just isn't as interesting in the part and he is hardly remarkable. On top of that the plot feels thin and never properly fleshed out.

    To its credit, the ending is kind of interesting and in the last fifteen minutes or so of the picture as we build towards the inevitable big finish things do pick up, but getting to that point is a bit of a chore. Director Chris Angel has trouble keeping momentum going and the storyline is just pretty blah all the way around.

    Wishmaster 4 - The Prophecy Fulfilled:

    The fourth (and so far final) Wishmaster picture actually goes some way towards redeeming things after the terrible Beyond The Gates Of Hell entry. Shot back to back with the third film and once again directed by Angel, this time around we meet a woman named Lisa Burnley (Tara Spencer-Mairn). When we first meet her, she's involved in a passionate lovemaking session with husband Sam (Jason Thompson). After the bumping and grinding is out of the way, we learn that in the not too distant future Sam gets hit so hard in a motorcycle accident that he becomes a cripple and that their once ideal marriage is now on the rocks.

    They've got a lawyer named Steven Verdel (Michael Trucco) doing what he can to reach a settlement, but he's got more on his mind than just money. Steven's got the hots for Lisa, and to win her over he gifts her with an ancient puzzle box that he's come to own. When she accidently drops the box and a familiar red gem tumbles out, the Djinn (Novak again) is free for a fourth round. To get closer to the one who woke him, the Djinn takes over Steven's body but complicating matters is the presence of a man known only as... The Hunter (Victor Webster).

    We won't spoil the way that the series ends here, but it's a definite step up from the dire third film. There are still a few logic gaps here and again, Novak just can't bring to the part what Divoff did, but a few memorable set pieces and a couple of good twists make this one a fun time killer. Once again, however, we see a low budget hurt some of the murder set pieces and the gore scenes which made the first two entries so fun are comparatively tame here. Still, there's enough screwy humor, completely unnecessary but wholly welcome nudity and Djinn-based mayhem going on here that, if you don't think about it too hard, it's not a complete waste of time.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Each of the four films in this set is presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition, the first picture framed at 1.78.1 and the three sequels at 1.85.1. The first two movies are each presented on their own 50GB Blu-ray disc, the third and fourth films share a BD50. The transfers are, for the most part, quite nice. Sometimes detail does look a little bit soft but these handily best the older DVD releases that came out in the early 2000s through Artisan (as they should). Colors are nicely rendered and look quite accurate while black levels are nice and solid if maybe just a tad bit less than perfect. Skin tones look nice and there are no noticeable problems with any obvious noise reduction, edge enhancement or artificial sharpening. The healthy bit rate afforded to each picture keeps compression artifacts out of the equation and there's very little in the way of print damage to note, just the odd small white speck now and again that most probably won't even notice.

    The first film and third films in the set get the DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo treatment while the other two receive DTS-HD 5.1 options. Removable subtitles are provided in English only. The 5.1 tracks have solid surround activity and the stereo mix good L/R separation. Dialogue is clean, clear and nicely balanced on each of the four films and the scores employed throughout have good presence and range. There are no noticeable probably with even a trace of hiss or distortion, the audio here is very clean.

    Wishmaster:

    The first movie, not surprisingly receives the lion's share of the supplemental material in this set, starting with an audio commentary with director Robert Kurtzman and screenwriter Peter Atkins that originally appeared on the old DVD release. This is a solid track with plenty of information on the technical side of things, a lot of focus on the effects work and some insight into the writing process, where some of the ideas for the feature came from and more. A second audio commentary features Kurtzman alongside stars Andrew Divoff and Tammy Lauren. Not surprisingly, the focus here is on what it was like acting in the movie, their thoughts on their respective characters, some of the makeup effects and appliances that they had to deal with, Kurtzman's directing style and plenty of other information. The disc also contains a third supplemental audio track that contains isolated score selections along with an audio Interview with composer Harry Manfredini. Here he lends some insight into his creative process as he talks about what he was trying to accomplish with the compositions he came up with for the film and his thoughts on the project in general.

    From there we move on to the featurettes, the first of which is Out Of The Bottle and is made up of new interviews with director Robert Kurtzman and co-producer David Tripet. In this twenty-two minute piece we are basically schooled in 'Wishmaster 101,' meaning that they cover the origins of the project, how and why Craven was brought on board, casting the picture, the novelty casting of the various horror stars that pop up in the picture and loads more. This piece is pretty interesting and quite a bit of fun too. In The Magic Words we sit down for a talk with screenwriter Peter Atkins. He talks about his initial thoughts on the concept, insisting that the creature be called a Djinn rather than a genie, what he tried to bring to the story in terms of character development and his thoughts on the film in general. The Djinn And Alexandra is comprised of new interviews with stars Andrew Divoff and Tammy Lauren running just under twenty-six minutes in length. Here they go back and forth about how they were cast, their thoughts on their respective characters, their thoughts on horror films past and present and how Wishmaster was a throwback of sorts to the older creature features. They also talk about the film's enduring popularity while Divoff touches briefly on his work in the second film but never goes into too much detail about that one. Regardless, this is a lot of fun and these two clearly have a good sense of humor about all of this. Captured Visions gets director of photography Jacques Haitkin in front of the camera for thirteen minutes to share some stories from his time spent on the film. He talks quite enthusiastically about working with KNB on the effects set pieces, the specific look of the film and he also offers up some interesting anecdotes about other projects he has had a hand in over the years. Lastly, Wish List interviews two of the film's better known bit part players in the form of Robert Englund, Kane Hodder and Ted Raimi. This twelve minute piece is a lot of fun as the three guys look back on their respective roles, what drew them to the parts, their thoughts on Kurtzman's directing abilities and the film's popularity.

    Carried over from the DVD is a half hour vintage Making-Of featurette that includes even more interviews with the cast and crew as well as some interesting clips shot on set. There's also a six minute vintage EPK piece here and twelve minutes of behind the scenes footage, also carried over from that old Artisan disc.

    Rounding out the extras is a teaser trailer, a theatrical trailer, a handful of TV spots, a few radio spots, a lengthy storyboard gallery, a fairly hefty still gallery, animated menus and chapter selection.

    Wishmaster 2 - Evil Never Dies:

    The main extra on the second disc is an audio commentary with writer/director Jack Sholder. It's a decent track in which he talks about working with the cast and crew on the film, notes some of the budgetary issues they had, makes some observation about the various performances and more.

    Outside of that, look for a trailer, a still gallery, animated menus and chapter selection.

    Wishmaster 3 - Beyond The Gates Of Hell:

    The supplements for the third film include an audio commentary with director Chris Angel and cast members John Novak, Jason Connery and Louisette Geiss. Originally found on the Artisan DVD release, there are a few gaps in the track but it is occasionally pretty funny. All involved seem to realize that the movie they've made is considerably less than a masterpiece and as such, they point out a lot of gaffes and mistakes as they appear. At the same time, they also talk about what it was like on set, dish on their thoughts on the characters and the storyline and talk about some of the effects set pieces that are featured in the picture.

    The disc also includes a five minute Vintage Making-of featurette. There's nothing all that revelatory in here but it does offer up some cast and crew interviews shot on set as well as some behind the scenes footage that was shot during the production.

    Rounding out the extras are a trailer, animated menus and chapter selection.

    Wishmaster 4 - The Prophecy Fulfilled:

    The fourth film actually gets two commentary tracks, both carried over from the old DVD release, the first with director Chris Angel and cast members Michael Trucco and Jason Thompson. It's a very active track with the three participants chiming in about what was involved with following up the original films, some of the effects work, some insight into the locations and makeup, and quite a bit more. The second commentary features Angel and actor John Novak. This one covers a lot of the same ground with Angel relaying a few of the same anecdote he offered up on track one, with Novak trying to lighten the mood by cracking a lot of jokes throughout the talk, most of which aren't really that funny. The first track is interesting and useful, the second not so much.

    Also carried over from the DVD is the Wishmasterpiece Theatre featurette, a seven minute piece that is essentially made up of behind the scenes footage. Some of the material in here is pretty cool to see, actually, as it lets us have a fly-on-the-wall view of a few of the stunt sequences and some of the scenes with strippers in them too!

    Last but not least, we get a trailer, animated menus and chapter selection.

    The Final Word:

    Vestron Video's Blu-ray release of The Wishmaster Collection carries over all of the pertinent extras from the older DVD releases and throws in a few new ones as well to sweeten the deal. The presentation quality is solid across the board, offering nice A/V upgrades for each picture. As to the movies themselves? The first is a blast, the second a worthy follow up, the third a terrible film and the fourth a marginally entertaining finish. Fans should be pleased, however, with how they have been treated on this release.

    Click on the image below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!















































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