‘Wishmaster’ and ‘Wishmaster 2’

As I repeat often enough, remakes are evil (except when they’re not).  Recently I watched “Wishmaster” and “Wishmaster 2” on Netflix, and got to thinking…

I decided to deal with both movies at the same time because, despite one being a sequel, they’re essentially the same film.  Sure, you have differences in casting and the quality of special effects the second time around (they’re marginally better, though not as inventive) but the story, like the song, remains the same.

Which is:  An evil djinn (jinn.  Islamic Mythology, any of a class of spirits, lower than the angels, capable of appearing in human and animal forms and influencing humankind for either good or evil) is attempting to force the person who frees him from his prison to make three wishes, which would enable him to free his brethren from the Limbo-like dimension that holds them, and rule the world.

Though, unlike with the Dictionary.com definition, there’s no doubt where this particular djinn’s loyalties lie.

And to my dismay, I soon discover that, instead of taking what could have been a rich mythology and building upon it, the Wishmaster comes off like a Middle-Eastern ‘Freddy’ (which is interesting, since Robert Englund, plays ‘Raymond Beaumont’ in the first film), a schtick gets old really fast.  That being said, the concept of an evil djinn trying to free others like him in an attempt to depose humanity as the dominant species on the planet is actually pretty interesting and predates either “Underworld” (vampires and werewolves versus humans) or “Legion” and “The Prophesy” (Humans versus angels).

I’d be amiss if I didn’t mention that “Wishmaster” owes a huge debt to Clive Barker’s Hellraiser, which in a visual sense the film liberally borrows from, despite the latter film coming out ten years earlier.

And that’s probably the worse thing of all:  “Wishmaster” borrows liberally from other films–which isn’t a bad thing.  Most films, horror or otherwise, use themes and ideas began elsewhere–though never seems able to incorporate those ideas into a larger tapestry, and make them its own.

And there is so much potential.  “Wishmaster” could be remade into an awesome horror movie that could not only give viewers a portrayal of the Middle East (I originally was going to use the word ‘accurate,’ but that would imply that there was any attempt to do so in the first place) in ancient times and today, and while doing so touch upon issue relevant to the region, such as the treatment of women and terrorism, among other things.

And I understand that there are only so many hours in a day, and that the movie wouldn’t be about either of those things–in and of itself–but there’s no reason why it couldn’t touch upon them.

What I liked–and what hopefully would be retained if there were a reboot, is that both films are populated by horror royalty, such as actors like Englund, Kane Hodder, Angus Scrimm, Reggie Bannister and Tony Todd.

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