From Lionsgate UK comes 1997’s Wishmaster, as part of the Vestron Collector’s Series, restored and remastered on Blu-ray.
In 1127 Persia, a demonic genie (Andrew Divoff) is trapped inside a fire opal by a quick-thinking sorcerer before he can unleash his evil on the land. In present day America, the opal finds its way into the hands of an antique appraiser, Alex (Tammy Lauren), who has strange visions while handling the gem.
Seeking answers, Alex hands it over to her best friend Josh (Tony Crane) to analyse. But when the gem explodes, the evil djinn is released and tricks Josh into wishing for a ‘fatal’ end to his pain. Taking on human form, the djinn begins granting wishes in exchange for souls, while seeking out Alex who becomes the instrument of his evil plans…
Presented by horror maestro Wes Craven and produced by Pierre David (Scanners), Wishmaster was one of those 1990’s titles that I missed first time round. But now that it’s undergone a re-master, I thought it high time to check it out. And it’s not as bad as I expected.
Peter Atkins, the screenwriter of the first two Hellraiser sequels, crafts a pleasing slice of horror hokum with the genuinely engaging Lauren (The Young and the Restless) in the hot seat as the fearless female protagonist. Atkins also provides some delicious dialogue for Divoff’s camp Pinhead meets Freddy Krueger creation to hiss under the mountain of prosthetics (to me, he looks slightly reminiscent of Tim Curry’s Lord of Darkness in Legend).
Fantasy fiction fans will have a field day recognising the surnames of some of the characters (including ‘Charles’ Beaumont and ‘August’ Derleth), while the cameos from some icons of the horror genre are the real reason to check this title out. Robert Englund (Freddy Krueger), Tony Todd (Candyman) and Kane Hodder (Jason Voorhees) all get the tables turned on them with some inventive death scenes; Phantasm’s Reggie Bannister pops up as a pharmacist, while Angus Scrimm narrates; and there are also turns from Ted Raimi (Evil Dead), John Carpenter favourite George ‘Buck’ Flower as a drunken bum (of course), Verne Toyer (as a mini djinn), sfx guru Tom Savini and the film’s director Robert Kurtzman.
Wishmaster did reasonable business on its release, despite some critical drubbing, and the character rose again for three sequels – but they turned out to be a textbook case of ‘the law of diminishing returns’. Even the versatile Divoff ditched the character after the first sequel (though he did end up playing a similar role in 2000, playing Mephistopheles in Brian Yuzna’s Faust: Love of the Damned). But do check this one out – especially as there’s a drinking game just waiting to happen with that hit list of horror cameos.
Order from Amazon
• Audio commentary with director Robert Kurtzman and screenwriter Peter Atkins
• Audio commentary with actors Andrew Divoff and Tammy Lauren and Robert Kurtzman
• Isolated score selections and audio interview with composer Harry Manfredini
• Out of the Bottle: Interviews with Robert Kurtzman and co-producer David Tripet
• The Magic Words: Interview with screenwriter Peter Atkins
• The Djinn and Alexandra: Interviews with Andrew Divoff and Tammy Lauren
• Captured Visions: Interview with director of photography Jacques Haitkin
• Wish List: Interviews with Robert Englund, Kane Hodder, and Ted Raimi
• Trailers, TV & Radio Spots
• Archive ‘Making Of’ featurette & EPK
• Behind-the-scenes footage compilation
SEE THE FILM ON THE BIG SCREE: Throughout March, Lionsgate UK are taking over the weekly, free entry Monday Film Club at The Alibi in Dalston, East London, with Wishmaster being screened on Monday 19 March. Check it out here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1633296950113773/
Wishmaster copyright: Programme Content and Photography: © 1997 Artisan Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved. Package Design: ©2018 Lionsgate Home Entertainment UK. All Rights Reserved.
7 foot, 375lbs of Pure Aussie Killing Machine
In the 1980s, the Australian country town of Mitchell got a bad rep when an angry mob hunted down and violently killed suspected cannibal and backpacker killer John Wilson (Bill Moseley) and his psycho wife Merideth (Trudi Ross) in front of their retarded son Charlie, who vanished into the bush never to be seen again. Today, Charlie’s Farm is ‘a dark and evil place’ that the locals avoid at all cost.
Despite the concerns of her boxer pal Tony (Kane Hodder), Natasha (Tara Reid) joins her two Aussie mates, horror film buff Jason (Dean Kirkright) and ladies man Donkey (Sam Coward), and girl pal Melanie (Allira Jaques), in the 8-hour drive to camp at the notorious site, where they encounter two backpackers who are also interested in the urban legend. But ‘Holy snapping duck shit!’, it’s not long before the deformed hulk that is Charlie Wilson (Nathan Jones) comes a calling and a killing…
Bush-bound blood and gore
This Aussie survival horror is basically Hatchet Down Under with professional wrestler Nathan Jones (Mad Max: Fury Road) playing a Victor Crowley-esque killing machine – think Hugh Armstrong’s The Man from 1972’s Death Line on steroids. Of course, this being a slasher, it’s the kills that count not the subtleties of character. So, except for one ludicrous, pointless kill involving a tractor, they don’t disappoint – with the highlight being Donkey getting his ‘massive’ manhood shoved down his throat followed by a gruesome jaw ripping.
There are a few in-jokes to savour, but mostly around the presence of Kane Hodder, who not only played the original Victor Crowley, but also that most iconic of slasher monsters, Jason Voorhees (four times by my count). While Hodder stays out of the picture for most of the film, he does get to go mano a mano with Jones’ Charlie in the bloody climax. But, surprisingly, he’s not the hero of the piece. That’s left to Tara Reid’s final girl, who finds herself in The Hills Have Eyes territory when she seeks refuge in an underground tunnel filled with the decaying corpses of Charlie’s victims. Yew!
Hoping Charlie Wilson will be welcomed into that hallowed pantheon of movie monsters alongside Crowley, Voorhees, and their ilk, the filmmakers have even brought out a range of merchandise. Will you be getting your ‘I Survived Charlie’s Farm’ Tee, bobble head and condoms? Mind you, they’ve got some competition with another Charlie currently frightening cinemagoers in The Gallows.
Digging Up the Marrow (2014) | Adam Green’s monster mash-up is the most fun you’ll have running about in the dark
While attending a Fangoria horror fan convention, Green gets a package from William Dekker (Ray Wise, Big Ass Spider!), who claims that monsters exist in an underground metropolis alongside humanity. Fascinated by the idea, but not quite sure whether Dekker is sane or not, Green and his cameraman (Will Barratt) set out to capture Dekker’s elusive creatures on film…
The best thing about Digging Up the Marrow is that it’s made for horror fans by horror fans having a bit of a lark. The mainly improvised set-up works for the most part, although there’s lots of talk involved as Green tries to convince his buddies (all sporting tees with logos emblazoned with his other projects – from Hatchet to Holliston) that he’s onto something, and we only get to see four actual creatures, all drawn from the warped imaginings of artist Alex Pardee.
As for genuine frights, well they’re more fun than scary, but there’s one that’s a real blast (thanks to Robert Pendergraft’s sfx). Horror fans, meanwhile, will have great fun seeing genre favourite Kane Hodder (who likes his porn) and those masters of horror, Tom Holland and Mick Garris, getting in on the joke.
Digging Up the Marrow is out on DVD in the UK from Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment, and also available to stream on YouTube
I SHOULD HAVE GONE ON THE SWAMP TOUR
After dispatching serial killer Victor Crowley with a shotgun and a chainsaw, Marybeth (Danielle Harris), the sole survivor of his murderous rampage of Honey Island swamp, takes his scalp to the authorities to prove he’s not just an urban legend.
Suspecting her of the mass killings, Sheriff Fowler (Zach Galligan from Gremlins fame) locks Marybeth up and sends out a group of officers and medics to recover the bodies. But when they too go missing, Lewis heads into the Louisiana swamp with some reinforcements, where a SWAT team is also looking for answers. And it’s not long before they do… for Crowley (Kane Hodder) has indeed regained his form and is ready to rumble.
Meanwhile, Fowler’s Crowley-obsessed journalist ex-wife Amanda (Caroline Williams) breaks Marybeth out of jail in a bid to find the one thing that will end Crowley’s curse – the ashes of his dead father. It’s then a race against time to get back to the swamp where Marybeth must personally hand over the remains before the SWAT and police teams are completely wiped out by the unstoppable killing machine.
EVIL NEVER DIES
You needn’t have seen the first two films to enjoy this latest Victor Crowley gore-fest, as the dungaree-wearing bayou bad boy’s bloody back story is revisited and expanded on here, and there’s a whole bunch of new victims for him to rip, shred and tear apart.
Creator/director Adam Green hands his monstrous creation over to BJ Connell, who takes great pleasure in poking fun at the contrived events of the previous film, while serving up a bloody brilliant new brew of thrills, spills and irreverent giggles.
The gloriously grisly highlights include a medic having his brains blown out of his skull with some cardio pads, the horrid SWAT leader getting his heart and spine ripped out, and a weedy officer having his arms torn off in revenge for bazookering Crowley’s cabin. The blood gushing is prolific and blackly comic: one poor medic has to choose which death would be worse: Crowley or a crocodile, while another utters the film’s best line: ‘I hid. And that’s the only reason why those are not my balls hanging from that tree’.
Look out for Adam Green playing a drunken Mardi Gras party reveller and the legendary Sid Haig, who has a hilarious cameo playing a racist war veteran who thinks its still 1953.
Hatchet II (2010) | Swamp monster serial killer Victor Crowley delivers another bloody blow to your funnybone
When it comes to tongue-in-cheek horror comedy few films can surpass 1985’s Return of the Living Dead whose comic script, great special effects, neat soundtrack and solid acting really sets the benchmark for these kind of films (as far as I’m concerned, that is).
Adam Green, Horror-dom’s favourite poster boy, made his name back in 2006 with his old-school serial killer horror Hatchet. Since then, he’s stretched his directorial wings with the classy thriller Spiral and the taunt survival chiller Frozen [reviewed here]. But he’s always promised his fans more Hatchet sequels, beginning with this one from 2010.
It doesn’t matter if you haven’t seen the original, but it does help to know a little about Friday the 13th, as this film is a pure homage to the horror franchise and its leading man, Jason Voorhees. Here, Green has fashioned his own horror icon-in-the-making in the form of Victor Crowley: a deformed, indestructible, serial killer who haunts a cursed Louisiana bayou and looks like a cross between Troma’s Toxic Avenger, The Elephant Man, and Robert De Niro’s Frankenstein monster.
The sequel follows directly from the first with heroine Marybeth (Danielle Harris) escaping Crowley’s clutches then returning to the dreaded swamp with a pack of hunters in tow, headed by Tony Todd’s flamboyant Reverend Zombie, to avenge the deaths of her father and brother. Only problem is, Crowley (again played by Kane Hodder, aka Jason Voorhees VII-X) also has a score to settle: the deaths of the three boys responsible for his fiery death.
You have to wait 53-minutes of back-story and highlights from the original before you get to your first fresh kill, but once Crowley starts butchering, you’ll find yourself whooping in delight as the body count rises. The death scenes are gory; inventive and well executed with all manner of tools including shovels, boat motor blades, giant double chainsaw and a sander – in addition to Crowley’s trusty hatchet – being used to decimate the cast.
Forget the cardboard story and mostly lame acting (Harris shouts through her role, while Todd seems to be invoking True Blood’s Lafayette with his performance); it’s the jokey violence and bloody pulp of an ending that makes Hatchet II a winner for me. Does it reach the lofty heights of my favourite horror comedy? ‘Fraid not, but it’s still one to enjoy with your fellow horror fiends over a few beers.
Just one question, does anyone know what a ‘Voodoo Fluffer’ is?
Hatchet II screens on The Horror Channel (Sky 319, Virgin 149, Freesat 138), with the next showing on Friday 28 March at 10.50pm.
Hatchet III is released on DVD in the UK on Monday 31 March from Metrodome Distribution[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qmgd6_KzV_8%5D
Irreverent to the point of verging on bad taste, Chillerama spoofs the horror anthology with four films being shown at a drive-in that is due to close down. While the patrons munch down their popcorn, infected with zombie blood, the tales (directed by Adam Rifkin, Tim Sullivan, Adam Green and Joe Lynch) are spooled for the first and last time by veteran projectionist Cecil B Kaufman (Richard Riehle).
Wadzilla is a gloobtastic take the 1950s drive-in classic The Blob as a giant sperm invades New York; I Was a Teenage Werebear turns Grease into a gay musical; The Diary of Anne Frankenstein is filmed in the style of 1930s Universal classic horrors with Hitler creating his own monster; and Zom-B-Movie is just hot moist madness. Wickedly funny and my idea of the perfect midnight movie. Watch out for Ray Wise, Kane Hodder and Eric Roberts who all make cameos.