Reviewed on 2009 February 8
This silly and really entertaining Wes Craven take on the whole monkey paw thing seems to be an either love-it-or-hate-it kind of movie. I loved it myself. I admit it’s cheesy, but so are most horror flicks nowadays, and this is a brie in a world of Velveeta®. For one thing, we have a smart heroine — a blonde apparaiser no less, and she’s believable — and a monster you don’t see very often in the genre. No axe-wielding maniacs, no vampires, no ghosts — the creature in this thing makes you bring on your own doom.
The djinn is described (in a narration by Angus Scrimm for us horror geeks) as an ancient fire being, hateful and wanting to rule the earth. Whoever frees one will be granted three wishes, but there’s a catch — once the third wish is granted the djinn gets his fire-demon buddies to cross into our world and rule with him. In a special affects extravaganza we see one (Andrew Divoff) terrorizing a group of ancient Persian revelers, using their own wishes against them until someone manages to trap him in a fire opal the size of a candied yam. He could’ve remained there forever, except for an accident while delivering an ancient statue to a wealthy collector (Robert Englund). The gem winds up in the hands of an antique and gem appraiser, Alex (Tammy Lauren), who certainly doesn’t expect the thing to deliver the payload it does when she polishes it to examine it.
This is when the fun really starts, with Divoff, all blue eyes and used car salesman grin when the djinn assumed a human form, granting wishes right and left and snapping up souls like frequent flyer miles. That was the best part of the whole thing, but it was also fun to see a Middle Eastern-themed horror flick with no mummies or curses from a pharaoh. The cast seemed to having a good time making it, and Divoff really seemed to be having a field day with his role as the djinn, at least until the franchise was pounded into the ground like a tent pole. It’s not Masterpiece Theater, but it’s a fun, gory weekend movie.
Three chocolate morsels.