1990s | Wishmaster (1997)
Film 7 of 8, representing the 1990s, Postmodern Horror, and the 80s Hangover
Expectations: I find the 90s a very, very dull time for horror. It simply didn’t know what to do with itself. Yes there are stand out films for sure, but on the whole the genre struggled to get over the 80s. Some of the big 80s horror franchises plodded on with progressively worse sequels into the 90s, it seemed that everyone was out of ideas. Wes Craven’s Scream (1996) did a fine job of bringing us something new whilst pointing out to horror just how stale the genre had become. But in it’s wake it left behind even less imaginative, glossy clones that have dated horribly. With Wishmaster I’m on the look out of the horror genre really struggling to regain an identity for itself.
Reflection: Wishmaster was a surprisingly good watch (I hadn’t seen this since it’s VHS release back in 1997) and threw up some interesting vignettes of 90s horror. Fist of all though, a few notes on the movie. Very enjoyable, if pretty cheesy. Andrew Divoff was in crazy enjoyable form as The Djinn. It’s certainly a welcome detour from the post Scream PG-13 ‘slasher’ (using that term very lightly) films that flooded the market post ’96. Nightmare on Elm Street is a clear influence, with Robert Englund’s fairly prominent supporting role testament to that fact. Watching the progress of horror over 80 years it’s interesting to see mobile phones (“can I borrow your cell phone?”, “useful little things”) and the internet (“email her”) work there way into horror. Both would go on to have huge effects on genre. Likewise the use of CGI here is very noticeable, up until this point it had been completely absent from the previous movies on the Moviethon. Funnily enough the film also features a lot more animatronics than you’d usually associate with the late 90s, and it looks great. However it’s the CGI that dates the film badly. This (at that point) relatively new tool for filmmakers, and supposed advancement, is what lets the film down the most. What the film achieves with 80s style prosthetics still looks fantastic, a real horror feast for the eyes. It’s also not without that all so 90s horror trait, the self referential cameo; with Tony Todd and Kane Hodder joining Englund in on-screen speaking roles. The 90s was certainly a transitional decade, and this is certainly a transitional movie, tied very much to the 80s, but desperately trying to show some new tricks. And it’s not a bad effort.