Three wishes. One nightmare.
Back in 1997, acclaimed director Wes Craven (A Nightmare On Elm Street) helped produce Wishmaster, a horror movie with a medium sized budget and an evil new star named the "Djinn" (played with lip smacking relish by actor Andrew Divoff). A few years later Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies was produced, but lacked much of the originality and scope of the first film. Now it's time for a second sequel, the lackluster Wishmaster 3: Beyond The Gates Of Hell, this time featuring a new Djinn (played with so-so energy by John Novak) and a cast of amateur teens who desperately need acting lessons. Artisan Home Entertainment grants your every desire with the release of Wishmaster 3: Beyond The Gates Of Hell on DVD.
Facts of the Case
Wishmaster Goes To College should have been the name of this movie. Deciding to ignore the previous two films, Wishmaster 3: Beyond The Gates Of Hell is set at a local university where a young co-ed named Diana (A.J. Cook) accidentally releases the Djinn from his prison inside a red ruby. After taking the body of Professor Barash (Jason Connery, son of Sean), the Djinn attempts to force Diana to make her three wishes so that he can open up the gates to hell, unleash his armies of the dead, bring about the impending apocalypse, et cetera, et cetera. Diana, however, isn't interested in making her wishes, for she knows that the end of the world will come if she does. This doesn't sit well with the Djinn, who decides to make life generally unpleasant for anyone who knows Diana at the college. One by one, her colleagues and friends start to perish due to the Djinn's maniacally twisted wish granting powers. Enlisting the help of Michael the Archangel (uh…it's a long story), Diana must fight the Djinn to the bitter end and win…or wish for a quick death!
Wishmaster 3 takes a cue from Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday by taking the main villain and locking him up inside a plain actor's body. In the first two Wishmaster movies Andrew Divoff did a great job of being menacing and seductive as the Djinn in both human and (often times) monster form. In Wishmaster 3, the Djinn seems to be on screen for a brief amount of time, then is shuffled off into actor Jason Connery's body for the remainder of the movie. Much like the inexcusable Hellraiser: Inferno, Wishmaster 3 forgets that the reason fans see horror movies is because we like to see the bad guy as the bad guy.
That complaint aside, Wishmaster 3 doesn't do much for a series that didn't have much to start with. While the original Wishmaster was cheeseball fun, Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies was a bottom feeder that never got off the ground in terms of story, character, or originality. Wishmaster 3 is even worse, a low-budget mess that will satisfy neither series fans nor everyone else looking for a good cinematic romp. The story is a close clone to the first two movies: the Djinn is released and the "waker" must figure out a way to get him back in the stone. Everyone in this movie seems to know how redundant and cheap the material is, and director Chris Angel seems to phone in the direction, even though the cast and crew credits list him as the director of the fourth entry, 2002's Wishmaster 4: The Prophecy Fulfilled. I'm sure that it will tie up ALL the loose ends from this movie.
Just like the first two movies, the Djinn's makeup is convincing and creepy, though this time it seems as if the budget ran out after the Djinn make-up was purchased. The rest of the effects look chintzy and cheap, a vast difference from the sprawling look of the first movie. With the creativity drained from the script and effects, Wishmaster 3 ends up having nothing impressive to offer the viewer. Jason Connery as the human incarnation of the Djinn is fine, though Connery shows no signs of replacing his charismatic father anytime soon. Then again, good old poppa Connery has his share of embarrassments as well (anyone heard of a little movie called The Avengers?), so maybe things will start looking up for the young Connery. A.J. Cook as heroine Diana is fine, but her acting doesn't stand out as anything unique. She's cute and cuddly, and that's about it. Everyone else is young, good looking, and on-screen as fodder for the Djinn.
If it sounds as if I'm being too harsh on Wishmaster 3, perhaps it's because in the past few weeks I've reviewed a lot of cruddy horror sequels that seem to have been cheaply rushed into production to cash in on the original's popularity (and as a rule I usually like that kind of crap). Hellraiser: Inferno, Halloween 4: The Return Of Michael Myers and Tremors 3: Back To Perfection all feel as if they were made without much care for the fans, story, or legacy of the original films. Say what you will about the Friday The 13th series, but at least the producers usually try to stick with the same formula for the sake of the fans. Wishmaster 3 not only ignores its brother films, but also takes away the Djinn for most of the movie until we're left with one too many chase scenes and a snoozer of an ending. Want to know what my wish is? That Wishmaster 4: The Prophecy Fulfilled will be the last Wishmaster movie ever made.
Then again, I guess that's why the call them "wishes."
Wishmaster 3 is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, and at least the disc includes a decent transfer of the film. While this isn't a perfect example of a DVD, Wishmaster 3 sports a solid image with clear colors and dark black levels. Edge enhancement is kept to a minimum with only the slightest amount of digital artifacting present.
Audio is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround in English (with optional Spanish subtitles). I was somewhat surprised to see Wishmaster 3 sporting a Dolby 2.0 soundtrack instead of 5.1 track. Most of these straight-to-video titles usually include at least a 5.1 soundtrack (usually to make up for how shitty the movie ends up being). As it stands, this soundtrack gets the job done, though it's hardly impressive or very aggressive. All aspects of the dialogue, effects, and music are clear of any distortion or hiss.
Wishmaster 3 features less supplements than the first film, but vastly more than the second. To start off, there is a commentary track by director Chris Angel and actors John Novak (The Djinn), Jason Connery (Prof. Barash), and Louisette Guis (Katie). The foursome really seems to enjoy the movie (I'm glad someone did) and I will admit that there did seem to be a lot of information featured on this track. This is a decent commentary track for a not-so-decent horror movie.
"The Making Of Wishmaster 3" is a short behind-the-scenes featurette that includes interviews with some of the cast and crew, a few glimpses at the special effects teams at work, and numerous clips from the film. Lastly there is a theatrical trailer for Wishmaster 3, a storyboard gallery with pencil drawings from the film, a cast and crew information list, and a few production notes.
Wishmaster 3 is only for diehard horror fans, and even they might want to steer clear of this sludge. Otherwise, this is typical straight-to-video stuff that won't appeal to most moviegoers looking for something original or exciting. Artisan has done a nice job on this disc, tacking on a few supplemental materials that one might not normally anticipate seeing.
Wishmaster 3: Beyond The Gates Of Hell is guilty of being nothing more than a re-hash of the first two movies. Artisan is released on good behavior for nice work on this disc.
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