Wishmaster was able to turn a modest profit in 1997 so it’s not a huge surprise that in 1999 it received its first sequel – Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies. It’s also not a huge surprise that this one skipped theatres and went straight to VHS. The idea that we now live in a world where this movie was able to snag a blu-ray release is both ridiculous and amazing because it’s also not a huge surprise that this is not a very good movie.
Andrew Divoff once again returns as the evil Djinn who wants to take over the world with his other asshole Djinn pals. He is set free from his gem prison by our lead Morgana, who in the opening scene is robbing a museum along with two of her friends. The Djinn, this time finding human form way faster than in the first film, takes the fall for the robbery/murder of a security guard and goes to prison, correctly assuming that it will be an absolute treasure trove of wishes. Meanwhile, Morgana is struggling to come to grips with her actions from the opening scene (she is the one who murdered the security guard, later finding out that he was a husband and father), as well as the fact that she is continuously having visions of a smirky-faced Andrew Divoff gruesomely murdering fools.
One thing I can say in the sequel’s favour is that the lead character is far more interesting. Morgana actually has a reasonably interesting character arc. The movie doesn’t make any excuses for the fact that she murders an innocent man in the opening minutes. There’s no revelation that this security guard was a secret serial killer or anything like that. So she goes on a quest for redemption, seeking comfort in a priest who she may or may bone before the movie is through. It makes it easier to invest in her character and Holly Fields puts in a more engaging performance than Tammy Lauren in the previous film (though in all fairness, there wasn’t a whole lot to her character).
I quite enjoyed Andrew Divoff as The Djinn in the first movie but he rubbed me the wrong way in this one. Previously he played up the charm of the character when in human form, making it clear why people would be attracted to him and fall for his manipulative wish nonsense. Here there is absolutely no way anybody would trust this asshole. He has this never ceasing smirk and he always 100% looks like he is up to something. The charm of the character has been swapped out for bland evil and it takes a lot away from the character.
On top of that, he goes a few steps further with the wish interpretation thing. I said that in the first movie there were definitely times where his manipulation of the wish felt like a stretch, or that the deck seemed very stacked in his favour in terms of what technically counts as someone making a wish (saying “I want”, “I hope”, “It would be great if” or even just answering yes to a question seemed to be enough to count it). Here it’s definitely worse. The most egregious example is when a cop tells him to freeze so The Djinn turns him to ice. That doesn’t make any sense! If anything The Djinn should have turned himself into ice since that was technically the desire of the cop. I know it can work like that because there was a moment in the first movie where a guy says he wants Djinn to take off and the Djinn starts walking away against his will. Here he takes another step to being unstoppable on every level.
There is still some fun to be had with the way the wishes are turned around on the victims and some suspense is generated by hearing the wish and waiting for the execution. There are some solid kills, and another spectacular gore fest in the final act, but even at just the second entry there’s a general feel that we’ve already seen everything this franchise has to offer.
Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies (which may as well be called Wishmaster 2: Generic Subtitle) is watchable. That’s about the best compliment that I can pay it. It’s not boring but it already shows there is very little steam left in a franchise that somehow still has two entries after this one. Some unique kills and decent gore effects (though there are a lot of poor ones mixed in there as well) add life to the whole thing, but the villain takes a huge step in the wrong direction in my eyes. Perhaps better than expected, but nothing more.