Tag Archives: Andrew Divoff

Review: Wishmaster

One From The Vaults

Wishmaster DVD 001There wasn’t a lot of supernatural horror in the 90s so this short series of films seemed like they came from a different age where cameras stayed put and editing did not interfere with seeing what is happening. This was a period when CGI still wasn’t good enough so effects were still mainly physical with puppets, wires and stop motion. It isn’t particularly scary but it great to see the creative work done in the effects and there is some humour. It’s a good movie for spotting familiar faces from the horror genre playing supporting roles and is a lot of fun.

The film opens with an introduction to the Djinn (Andrew Divoff) in ancient Arabia, one of a race of powerful magical creatures who are bound to use their powers only to fulfil the desires of others. The Djinn’s has unleashed his powers to trick a King into making a third wish that would free the Djinn, allow him to free the other Djinn and conquer the Earth but the King ‘s magician manages to trap the Djinn inside a gemstone.

The magical gemstone rediscovered in the present after a tragic accident at a dock while unloading a statue of a Zoroastrian deity Ahura Mazda  for a wealthy art collector Raymond Beaumont (Robert Englund) whose assistant (Ted Raimi) gets crushed to death when the statue falls off the crane lifting onto the dock because the crane operator (Joseph Pilato) was drunk. One of the dock workers spots the gem in the rubble and grabs it.

A pawnbroker who bought it from the dock worker takes it to an auction house to get valued. The boss Nick Merritt (Chris Lemmon) gives it to his expert Alexandra Amberson (Tammy Lauren) to be valued. When Alexandra examines the stone she sees a strange flaw in the gem that gives her a vision of a monstrous creature. Alexandra takes the gem to the local university to get examined by her close friend Tony Crane (Josh Aickman) who is a physicist with a big laser.

Tony puts the gem into the laser and starts it. The gem explodes seriously injuring Tony and freeing the Djinn. It is still small and weak and needs to get Tony to make a wish to give him power so he offers to free Tony from his pain. When Tony agrees the Djinn kills him, meeting the literal meaning of the wish but not the intent. There is only malice in the Djinn and he will make sure to twist any wish to cause harm. Alexandra got a vision of Tony dying and saw the Djinn now full size with demonic face and tentacles. There is a link between Alexandra and the Djinn and whenever he grants a wish she gets a vision of it.

The Djinn is hanging out in an alley when an old drunken vagrant (George ‘Buck’ Flower) gets chased away by a pharmacist (Reggie Bannister) from the front of store. The vagrant is mumbling curses to himself and the Djinn interrupts him to ask if he’s serious. He asks the vagrant to really think about what he wants to happen and then make a wish. The cost will be the vagrant’s soul which he doesn’t really believe so he wishes the pharmacist would get cancer and die. The Djinn grants his wish and leaves the vagrant confused.

The Djinn’s next stop is the hospital morgue when he tries to steal the face from a corpse. He gets interrupted by a medical student who is terrified by the sight of the Djinn. The Djinn offers to take away the terrible sight and the student agrees resulting in hi swish being granted by having his eyes taken away. The Djinn finishes cutting off the face and puts it on his own. He morphs into the human form of the dead man and now can move around unnoticed though Alexandra knows what he looks like thanks her psychic link with the Djinn. This link works both ways and the Djinn knows who Alexandra is and is now looking for her but Alexandra doesn’t know why.

Alexandra tries to find out what the gem is and where it came from, paying a visit to Beaumont to find out something about the statue and he gives a contact at the university, an anthropology professor Wendy Derleth (Jenny O’Hara) for information on the gem and the statue it was in and learns about the Djinn and what legends say. That’s where she learns that she awoke the Djinn so she is psychically tied to him because he needs her to make three wishes and release him and the other Djinn to rule over the Earth.

The first thing the Djinn does in his quest for Alexandra is to get himself a new suit and while there he grants the wish of a salesperson for eternal beauty by turning her into a showroom mannequin. Next he visits the police station to try to get Alexandra’s address from the cop who investigated Tony’s death but the cop refuses. When a creepy murderer gets brought in the cop expresses a wish to be able to get the sleazoid on a murder charge with plenty of witnesses. The Djinn grants his wish and in the chaos which ensues he manages to get Alexandra’s workplace from the cop’s desk file.

The Djinn gets to the auctioneers but it’s closed though Merritt is still in his office looking at things he’s bought. There’s a large security guard (Kane Hodder) in the Djinn’s way but he manages to trick the guard into making a wish and goes through him literally. Merritt is a greedy creep but he still doesn’t hand Alexandra’s address to a weird stranger even when Djinn gives him a small fortune in gold and gems. He does get a lead on where she is coaching a girls basketball team and pays her a little visit where he meets Alexandra’s younger sister Shannon (Wendy Benson-Landes). The Djinn borrows Shannon’s mobile phone and finds out Alexandra was trying to talk to Wendy.

The Djinn uses the gem to take all the souls he’s earned so far, killing those who got wishes granted. Alexandra gets a call from Wendy and goes to see her but Wendy is acting strange, offering her things while ridiculing the idea that if the Djinn is real she would have any hope of outwitting him. Wendy reveals that she is the Djinn and the real Wendy is dead. This is the big confrontation and Alexandra decides to use a wish to get to know what the Djinn is. He transports into a nightmare realm seemingly inside the gem where the souls the Djinn captured are bound in torment. Now Alexandra is trapped while the Djinn is free to act outside the gem and to convince her to make her three wishes and free him the Djinn is going after Shannon.

Shannon is at a fancy party thrown by Beaumont that was originally meant celebrate acquiring the Ahura Mazda statue but Beaumont held the party despite the accident. Alexandra wishes herself back out of the gem and rushes to Beaumont’s party. The Djinn has a bit of trouble with a door steward (Tony Todd) that gets sorted by another fatal wish. The Djinn gets chatting with Beaumont just as Alexandra arrives. Beaumont wants his party’s fame to go down in history which is music to the Djinn’s ears. The Djinn launches his magic to bring death to the party guests and soon there is panic with screams and the pain of the dying.

Alexandra loses sight of Shannon in the mad rush out of the building so goes looking for her. The Djinn awakens several aggressive statues to chase after her and tells her that she can wish away all this suffering. Still Alexandra refuses because the Djinn is so much worse than a few dead rich people. The Djinn gets much more personal by trapping Shannon in a painting then setting the house in painting on fire.

Alexandra takes some deep breaths then thinking about what she learned about everything that happened she makes her wish; that the crane driver who dropped the statue hadn’t been drunk that morning. The Djinn thinks he’s won and grants the wish, not realising until it’s too late that it undoes everything that he did and he gets sucked back into the gem and sealed inside the statue.

This is a really fun film and I really liker the imaginative ways the effects team have brought the Djinn’s magic to life without modern CGI. The story isn’t very original but then it is based on the a lot of the myths of those who have dealings with malicious wish granting creatures. The Djinn is a very useful creature for allowing the creative freedom to whatever the film-makers want with in whatever budget they have. The main character is probably the weakest part of the film and though Tammy Lauren does okay with the role the character is just a bit bland and forgettable. Andrew Divoff is just great as the Djinn and his human disguise and the parts with him are certainly the more interesting parts of the film. Unfortunately he only appeared in one of the sequels.

Rating 7.5/10

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Posted by on December 20, 2013 in Entertainment, Film


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Review: Night of the Living Dead 3D Re-Animation

This film is apparently a prequel to the 2006 film titled Night of the Living Dead 3D. That film was nothing like the shot-by-shot remake of Night of the Living Dead by Tom Savini. Why don’t these films just call themselves something different? It could be trying to cash-in on the name but I really don’t know. Although there are zombies in this film it never turns into a full-scale outbreak

Gerald Tovar Jr. (Andrew Divoff) runs the family mortuary and he has many problems in his life. His assistant DyeAnne (Robin Sydney) has tarted up a body like punk and the relatives are not happy. Gerald asks Aunt Lou (Melissa Jo Bailey), who manages the customer side of the mortuary, to tell DyeAnne that she’s fired. His loser brother Harold (Jeffrey Combs) has also turned up needing money and threatening to contest their father’s will. But Gerald’s biggest problem is that he has piles of bodies locked up in the crematorium that slowly re-animate as flesh-hungry zombies.

Gerald hires Cristie Forrest (Sarah Lieving), a mortuary school graduate, as his mortuary assistant. He shows Cristie around the place, missing out the crematorium. In the embalming room he introduces her to DyeAnne and then leaves them to take care of a body while he leaves to have dinner with Harold. The brothers talk about various things and Harold is taken in by any anti-government conspiracy theory. Gerald tells Harold about the zombies and Harold grills him for details. Turns out that Gerald Tovar Sr. had a contract with the government to dispose of their secret medical waste. After he died Gerald Jr. kept taking in the bodies but Gerald can’t work the furnace in the crematorium and things just piled up. Then a couple of weeks ago he took a delivery sealed in black plastic sacks that leaked and re-animated the corpses. Harold doesn’t believe Gerald and thinks he might have chance of getting his hands on his father’s inheritance. Gerald tries to prove what he’s saying is true by taking him into the crematorium which is stinking from all the rotting corpses. He can’t even show Harold the video that he’s made because the camera has run out of power.

Most zombie films seem to fall in to the pattern of either the siege or the post-apocalyptic road movie but this is a prequel so things start out apparently under control but the potential for a zombie plague is building up like festering boil. This is an uneven film with  scenes of little relevance such as a long sequence of DyeAnne, Cristie and a third employee Russell (Adam Chambers) getting stoned and Cristie has some very trippy experiences involving the corpse smoking weed with them and DyeAnne having sex with him. There is little zombie action in the first half of the film but it does build up towards the end of the film as event spiral out of control.

I was surprised about how much politics crops in this film. The US Tea Party movement is a bone of contention between Harold and Gerald with Harold being a supporter and Gerald referring to Harold with insulting term teabagger. Harold likes a talking head who is a Tea Party favourite called Sister Sara (Denice Duff) who is very obviously Sarah Palin. A bunch of the corpses in the crematorium come from a Tea Party bus that crashed. I’m not sure how deliberate it is that some many of the zombies in the film are Tea Party supporters but seems unlikely to be an accident.

I liked Andrew Divoff and Jeffrey Combs as the bickering brothers but things were less interesting when they weren’t on screen. Harold seems to be a creep with crazy ideas but despite Gerald seeming more collected and sympathetic what he’s doing is insane and it’s his carelessness and bizarre choices that leads things to things going wrong. The zombie make-up is pretty good and the scenes in the crematorium were fairly grisly. It isn’t up to the standard of the original Romero films but it’s probably worth renting. The 3D is probably not worth getting a headache for especially considering the low light levels of many of the scenes

Rating 6.5/10



Posted by on August 27, 2012 in Entertainment, Film


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Review: The Dead Matter

This was a blind buy at a supermarket and it’s a weird low-budget piece of vampire hokum and it prominently features its two big star names on the cover Andrew Divoff and Tom Savini as two rival vampire lords hamming it up in a film so ridiculous that I cannot believe it was not a comedy.

Two vampire hunters McCallister (Jason Carter) and Mark Pym (Brian Van Camp) are fighting off zombies to steal a magic pendant that the evil vampire lord Vellich (Andrew Divoff in distractingIy long grey wig) is using in a ritual.They escape and split up with Mark taking the pendant to be destroyed and McCallister fighting off hordes of vampires or zombies or probably both. The bearer of the pendant can control the dead and that’s why Vellich wants it. Mark manages to get to some sort of altar surrounded by four standing stones. Vellich catches up with him and kills him but some sort of spirits stop him and drive him away from the altar and he leaves empty-handed.

Next day the main character Gretchen (Sean Serino) is standing over her brother’s grave so we know she’s grieving over him. Gretchen has a boyfriend Mike (Tom Nagel) who is incredibly boring. They also have two friends Frank (Christopher Robichaud) who is scientist working for a drug company and Jill (C.B. Spencer) who is a wiccan/pagan/new age whatever and it really feels forced having these mismatched characters as a couple. It is such tired old sexist cliché having the emotional spiritual woman and the sceptical rationalist man. Anyway for whatever stupid reason the writer managed to come up with, they go to the cemetery that night to have a séance at the very same altar from before so that Gretchen can try to talk to her brother. Gretchen finds the pendant and puts it on. They have the séance with Jill chanting some sort of spell out of her grimoire (!) to raise the dead and purple glowy special effects appear to enter them which seem to give them all confusing visions. It also makes the pendant glow.

The next night Gretchen and Mike are having sex when they hear a noise and find a zombie standing in Gretchen’s room. It is the re-animated corpse of Mark Pym but they don’t know that. They freak out and Mike attacks the zombie. Then Gretchen screams at it to go away which makes the pendant glow again and the zombie turns round and leaves. Gretchen quickly realises she can control the zombie with the pendant and wants to keep it around because of something stupid to do with her brother (because she’s grieving and all that) Mike is not at all happy about but since he only has a pout instead of balls he does nothing about it, not even when Gretchen decides to take the zombie to the bar to show to their friends. At the bar Jill takes on look at it and freaks out before going to puke her guts out while Frank takes a bit of convincing before getting very excited about a real zombie. So I guess Jill’s the rational one now.

Meanwhile in the other plot Vellich confronts another vampire lord Sebed (Tom Savini) because Sebed has vampires addicted to some new drug that he has sole supply of. This story meanders around the film before being fully revealed later as having very little to do with them main story. Oh yeah and that McCallister dude is still hunting for the pendant that he knows has not been destroyed.

This film plays this silly story straight for the most part but there’s a montage of Gretchen and the zombie filmed just like this a romance: Gretchen taking the zombie clothes shopping, going on a carousel and eating ice cream together. It’s just totally weird parody and after it’s over the film keeps going and no-one ever mentions it again. I don’t know who I would recommend this film to because it is not very gory, the story is daft and the acting is a bit rubbish. It’s tolerable nonsense that will probably turn up on cable TV.

Rating 5/10

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Posted by on August 1, 2012 in Entertainment, Film


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