When You Wish Upon A Dud
by Rich Bruso
There's always one certainty with editors: They expect a regularly scheduled article on a regular schedule, even if inspiration hasn't struck due to sleep deprivation. Weird, eh?
Luckily, for those times when inspiration is lacking, there is a huge stack of bad, bad, awful, horrible movies sitting by the TV. These, of course, are there courtesy of Phil. Unfortunately, upon leafing through the pile, I decided I wasn't quite that desperate. Instead, I turned to the power of digital cable. For sheer quantity of laughably bad movies, the SciFi channel just edges out AMC, which hosts plenty of old, low-budget horror movies. But just last week, SciFi showed Howling, Howling II, Howling III, Howling IV, and Howling VII. Apparently, parts five and six weren't up to their lofty standards. Fortunately for me, I tuned in just in time to catch Wishmaster II: Evil Never Dies.
This wondrous movie achieved the rare feat of getting the same number of stars as the original, which isn't very impressive when they both get one. Strangely enough, both parts three and four ranked a star and a half, putting them out of my discriminating taste range.
The movie begins with a break-in at a museum demented enough to have the head of a statue of the deity Ahura-Mazda right next to a collection of impressionist paintings. And no, Ahura-Mazda has nothing to do with cars or the original Star Trek series. Fortunately, over 99.99% of the viewing audience had no clue who he was, enabling the writers to invent things to further the thin excuse for a plot. Unfortunately, I married one of the .01%, who was quite entertained by the 'modifications' the producers slipped in.
Well, the burglary goes spectacularly awful, resulting in the death of two of the thieves. Then the statue head breaks, revealing a bright red fire opal, or perhaps the top of a ring pop. The cameraman didn't zoom in close enough to figure out which it was. As anyone who has ever eaten a ring pop knows, if you drop one it will break open, unleashing an evil Djinn intent on world domination.
The remaining thief, a woman named Morgana, manages to flee before the security guards appear. Unfortunately, the cameraman stayed, forcing us to watch a series of wish-based special effects. For example, one of the guards shouts "Freeze!" to which our Djinn replies, "As you wish." The two remaining guards then carefully step past the ice sculpture that has been wheeled on set and manage to arrest the Djinn, who, by this point, had changed into human form.
Plot elements go whizzing past, revealing that Morgana's old flame has become a priest, that Morgana is plagued by dreams of our Djinn, and that the priest thinks she is insane. We are then treated to several wish-granting sessions, where the Djinn grants several inmates their fondest desires, in exchange for which all he asks is, "Your soul...and a pack of cigarettes." Really.
Morgana decides her dreams are real, so she goes online to figure out what they mean. Fortunately, there is a wealth of knowledge on the connection between Ahura-Mazda, Djinn, and alchemy. Basically, if the Djinn is released, he will collect 1,001 souls, then grant three wishes to his releaser, at the completion of which he gets control of the Earth. Sounds fair, right? The only way to thwart him is for a person who is pure of heart to grab the Djinn's gem and repeat the phrase, "Nib Shugaroth Baheem." As far as I can tell, this appears to be a primitive form of "Red Rover", except the Djinn goes off to a space between realities instead of an opposing player coming to your side.
For some reason, at this point Morgana decides to clean up her act. She removes all her piercings, stops wearing makeup, changes to a more conservative wardrobe, goes to confession, returns the stolen paintings, and cuts off her left pinkie. I have no idea why she cut off a finger. Perhaps she missed a few payments at Lucky Eddie's Payday Loans. In any case, she's hitting it off with the priest now, and he's helping her to track down the Djinn, who escaped jail sometime during the last paragraph while I wasn't paying attention.
In need of more souls, the Djinn moves on to Vegas, where he grants a casino owner's unlikely wish that the players get "...all the luck in the world." In the chaos that ensues, the casino goes broke, the Djinn hits the magic 1,001 soul mark, and Morgana arrives in Vegas with the priest. After reeling in all the souls, the Djinn tries to trick Morgana into making three wishes. We are treated to wonderful scenes of casino machinery killing people. A roulette wheel begins spitting balls out in a lethal manner, before popping off the table and sprouting Ben-Hur style spikes that slice up the legs of passing gamblers. We also see the Djinn's idea of "crapping out" at dice, something I hope to never see again in my life.
On to the finale. Morgana tries to trick the Djinn by wishing him away. Unfortunately, you "cannot change that which is eternal," a serious cop-out on the part of the writers. Similarly, you can't make a wish that directly affects the Djinn, as he, as the Wishmaster, has veto rights. Oh, and the "I wish there was no evil in the world" sparks a dissertation on the balance of good and evil. She finally remembers her online search, grabs the gem, and says the mystic phrase. Unfortunately, it seems the phrase has to be repeated once per soul, leading to one of the longer scenes in the movie.
Finally, with some spectacularly bad computer-generated effects, the Djinn is shoved back into the space between realities. We are treated to one last close-up, which ends when the Djinn snarls, scaring the cameraman into a quick zoom out. Then, my favorite part: The credits begin to roll.
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