Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies (1999)

Director: Jack Sholder
Studios: Artisan Entertainment
Starring: Andrew Divoff, Holly Fields, Paul Johansson
Tagline: Evil Has Been Summoned... Again!
MPAA Rating: R
Genre: horror, thriller, folklore, religious occult
Scare score: F
Rating: F

Plot overview: After being summoned back into the human world by an unsuspecting thief Morgana (Fields), the djinn (Divoff) continues his mission to fulfill the prophecy to bring about an apocalypse at the hands of his race.  Morgana turns to her ex-flame-turned-priest Gregory (Johansson) to stop the evil genie from collecting 1,000 souls and bringing the rest of the djinn into the world.

This movie was awful and I wasn't even going to blog about it except that there is a Wishmaster marathon on TV (literally be careful what you wish for...) so I figured why not?

This is a made-for-TV movie and it certainly feels like it, if not an episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark? which I would prefer to have watched.  The script is bad, the acting is bad, the plot is bad, and worst of all it makes a lot of the errors that I thought the first movie neatly avoided.  It furthermore opens up too many plot holes that a viewer can't easily ignore.

For example, this movie draws in some dumb comedy that can so easily ruin a horror movie.  In the beginning of the movie, a cop yells at the djinn "Freeze!"  First of all this is a command, not a wish, and second of all it is directed at the djinn to do to himself.  Although the djinn never listens to anyone else's command without specifying that they wish something of him, he manages to freeze this cop, and then declares "He needed to chill out," a line straight out of Schwarzenegger's mouth in Batman & Robin from two years earlier.

In fact, Divoff, his character, and even his M.O. were almost totally changed in this movie.  I hated Divoff so so so much.  He was creepy and irritating, and reminded me of some nerdy pricks that I met in college.  Whereas in the first movie the djinn spoke as though he were, in fact, coming out of the neo-Persian empire well before the Early Middle Ages, in this movie Divoff was a slick, quick-speaking, modern business man... with a really annoying, self-satisfied, Jack Torrance grin stuck on his face.  The whole plot involves so much sex which is typical of horror movies of this caliber, from the nude art-stricken walls of Morgana's apartment to her nightly lack of pajamas to her love for Gregory.  Furthermore, the movie takes this wild, religious turn (Jesus imagery?  stigmata?  really and why?) with Morgana becoming some pure-of-heart virgin with some apparent tie to the prophecy because of her orthodox religion or because she awakened the djinn - we're never really sure.

Something annoying about this movie is that you can almost tell that the writers (and Divoff) think the whole thing is so clever.  I guess they were following the lighter, more comical standards of horror movies from the time, but it gives no credit to the film.  The whole casino thing was embarrassing, strange, and over the top.  It doesn't even begin to touch the opening or ending sequence in the first film.

Final critique:  Oh well, now I'm stuck in the middle of a 4-installment series that will probably only get worse.  This is the kind of movie that gives the horror genre a bad rep, so while I wouldn't recommend it I guess I'd say it's still not the worst horror movie I've seen and at no point did I want to stop watching it.  I guess give it a try if you're looking for something dopey; there is some gore so if you're not into that, it's only a win-win if you stay away.