Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies

Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies

It's a bit ironic that social conservatives often attack the horror genre, considering just how many horror films explicitly or implicitly convey socially conservative messages. After all, what are slasher films if not cautionary tales, warning young people of the dangers that await them if they choose to engage in premarital sex or beer consumption? Wishmaster 2 is yet another monumentally conservative horror film, this time warning of the dangers of greed, as illustrated through the tale of an evil genie (Andrew Divoff) who grants a slew of unsavory types one wish each in exchange for their souls. Sounds like a good bargain, eh? Well, no, not really, as Divoff's wish-granting endeavors invariably take a turn toward the morbid, as when a luckless robber wishes he'd never been born and then,appropriately enough, regresses to infanthood and disappears. Not as much of a horror-geek in-joke-fest as its predecessor (which featured appearances from the stars of Nightmare On Elm Street, Candyman, Friday The 13th, and Phantasm), Wishmaster 2 finds Divoff confessing to a crime he didn't commit so he can be placed in a prison to work his deadly magic on wish-hungry prisoners. As always, there's a pair of bland protagonists who must bring Divoff down, this time a distraught art thief and her priest ex-boyfriend, but Wishmaster 2 derives much of its power not from its sketchily conceived good guys but from its surprisingly effective villain. With his carefully arched eyebrows, receding hairline (not even all-powerful satanic beings are immune to the ravages of baldness), and creepy monotone speaking voice, Divoff resembles nothing so much as a lobotomized Jack Nicholson, yet his character possesses a beatific sense of calm that's strangely unnerving. And while Wishmaster 2 is silly in a way that only films about evil genies can be, Divoff's creepy lead performance and the solid direction of writer-director Jack Sholder (The Hidden, Nightmare On Elm Street 2) make it an above-average direct-to-video horror sequel.

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