Wishmaster

Very close to achieving a degree of reflexivity many horror movies strive for, this gore and special-effects vehicle actually uses its plot to justify its sensational digressions: it presents you almost randomly with grisly and fantastic elements, but encourages you to be aware of the mechanism that enables it to do this. An evil being, whose limitless powers function only when someone expresses a desire for things to be other than the way they are, manipulates people so it can twist each demand into something terrible enough to provoke another demand. Alexandra (Tammy Lauren, a contemporary, sedate scream queen) becomes the focus of the scheme of this monster (played, when it has a relatively human face, by Andrew Divoff), which hopes to earn its passage out of limbo by forcing her to make three requests. While the end of the movie is disappointing, the rest blends the visceral thrills of mindless horror with some nuanced cerebral stimulation. A fairly powerful horror movie like this makes you look at the world in a different way—you may become paranoid about supernatural evils lurking around corners, but you're also convinced that something abstract and mysterious emanates from the mundane. Written by Peter Atkins and directed by Robert Kurtzman.

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