10 Forgotten Horror Franchises You Should Watch
This article is a continuation of The History of 5 Forgotten Horror Franchises article we published some days ago.
1) Pumpkinhead - Number of movies: 4 total (3 sequels)
Pumpkinhead (1988) is the directorial debut of the special effects creator Stan Winston. It's a cult classic headlined by Lance Henriksen, who stars as the store owner Ed Harley. When his son is killed by dirtbikers, he heads to see a witch whom he had seen controlling a bizarre creature when he was a child. The witch tells him that she can’t resurrect his son, but she will tell him how to resurrect the creature. By following her instructions, the demon Pumpkinhead rises with the single-minded goal of obtaining Harley’s revenge. The question, however, becomes whether Harley really wants to accept the consequences that come with bringing the creature back.
- 1994 gave us the direct-to-video sequel “Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings”. In many franchises, there is at least one oddball sequel with next-to-nothing to do with the other films. This is the one for this series. It features performances by a very eclectic cast including Roger Clinton (yes, THAT Roger Clinton), Soleil Moon Frye (yes, Punky Brewster), and Ami Dolenz (daughter of Monkee Mickey Dolenz) as well as appearances by Linnea Quigley and Kane Hodder. In terms of plot, a group of teenagers inadvertently severely burn a witch while she’s attempting a ritual causing Pumpkinhead to rise again to seek vengeance not only for the witch’s injuries but for the death of a deformed child some 30 or so years prior. It also spawned one of the most infamously bad horror tie-in video games ever, a PC game of the same name that gives its players virtually no clues as to what they are supposed to do.
- Then, much like with Children of the Corn, the Syfy channel showed up. 2006 saw the direct-to-tv sequel “Pumpkinhead: Ashes to Ashes”, bringing Lance Henriksen back as Ed Harley and introducing Pinhead himself, Doug Bradley, into the franchise as Doc Frasier. The story is about a town angered over a mortician involved in black market organ trading who stole organs from the bodies he worked on and dumped the remaining bits into a swamp. The town, in response, forces the old witch to resurrect Pumpkinhead on their behalf and send him out to obtain revenge.
- Filmed back-to-back with “Ashes to Ashes” was the 2007-released made-for-tv movie “Pumpkinhead: Blood Feud”, the last film in the series to date. It too has Lance Henriksen as Ed Harley as well as a cast of near complete unknowns with the exception of Amy Manson (as Jodie Hatfield) who went on to roles in the British series “Torchwood” and “Being Human”. In case it wasn’t clear by the name of Amy’s character, the titular blood feud is the famed “Hatfields and McCoys” feud with Pumpkinhead being brought in by a young McCoy seeking vengeance for the accidental death of a family member by Hatfield hands.
2) Phantasm - Number of movies: 5 total (4 sequels)
Much to my deep surprise, another franchise I heard a lot of calls for was Phantasm. Personally, I thought it had gotten a bit more mainstream over time, but you want it, you got it! 1979’s Phantasm, written and directed by Don Coscarelli as all the films in the franchise are, is the story of Mike (A. Michael Baldwin) and and his older brother Jody (Bill Thornbury) coping with the death of their parents. As Mike investigates their funeral, he discovers that the local mortician, The Tall Man (Angus Scrimm) seems to have uncanny strength and abilities and appears to be hiding something inside the mortuary. Alongside Jody and local ice-cream vendor Reggie (Reggie Bannister), the three try to figure out the Tall Man’s plans in a movie filled with bizarre dwarves, sentient flying silver death spheres, and strange gateways.
- In 1988, Phantasm II hit theaters. It retains Reggie and the Tall Man from the original and the actors who played them but is the only film in the series to recast Mike as a different actor (James LeGros). This change is primarily due to studio interference (Coscarelli was forced to audition Bannister and Baldwin for their own roles in an effort to prevent having to recast both as the studio wished. They gave him the concession of allowing Bannister, but forced the other recast). The film is also the highest budgeted Phantasm film at roughly 3 million dollars. Its plot is basically that a new character, Liz (Paula Irvine) has a mental bond with the Tall Man and Mike. Liz asks for Mike’s help to save her grandfather causing Mike to fake sanity to escape from the mental institution he was placed in after the first film. Mike, Reggie, and Liz then attempt to find the Tall Man and kill him before he continues his work from the previous film. And, in a recurring trend, the plot is actually far more convoluted than that.
- Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead was made in 1994 and saw direct-to-vhs release after sitting for over a year in 1995. It brought back all of the original major characters and actors (Thornbury’s Jody was not in the second film and Baldwin returned). The plot of this one is yet still more complicated than the previous two but basically boils down to Reggie and Mike continuing their quest to stop the Tall Man and his ever-growing army and array of spheres. This time around, they meet up with a few new compatriots as well as a few other minions while The Tall Man quests to capture Mike and turn him to his side.
- The fourth film was Phantasm IV: Oblivion, released to video in 1998. It’s a combination sequel and prequel that again stars all the major cast of the first film and focuses on Mike’s attempts to unravel the Tall Man’s past in an effort to save himself, his brother, and Reggie. It’s become notable for Coscarelli’s decision to incorporate never-before-seen footage from the original film into the film as story flashbacks. Again, though, the storyline of this series is far, far more complicated than I’m making it seem.
- 2016 is the year of the fifth and last intallment Phantasm: Ravager.
3) Silent Night, Deadly Night - Number of films: 5 total (4 sequels)
Next to Black Christmas in 1974, 1984’s Silent Night, Deadly Night is probably the most popular Christmas-themed slasher. Infamously embroiled in controversy over its plot depicting a serial killer in a Santa suit and iconic poster featuring Santa’s arm holding an axe reaching out a chimney, the film was a mainstream critic punching bag with Siskel and Ebert infamously shaming everyone involved with the film. The PTA and large crowds also began picketing and protesting the release leading to the pulling of advertising 6 days after its release and the film itself shortly thereafter. It was later rereleased in 1986 by a different company, using the controversy as a selling point, and has gone on to become a cult classic and beloved example of 80s sleazy slasher style, finally seeing release on DVD in both America and the UK in the new millennium (though the American release is out of print). Its plot basically is that of young Billy Chapman who witnessed the attempted rape of his mother and murder of his parents by a deranged man in a Santa suit. This, coupled with being told by his mental patient Grandpa that Santa brought toys to good children and punished the naughty would give him psychological issues for years. After growing up in a convent under a strict, punishment-loving Mother Superior, Billy was deemed sane enough to work at a local toy store. Unfortunately, it’s the Christmas season and Billy’s been asked to play Santa for the store, a decision that might unlock latent homicidal urges from his childhood trauma. The film is also famous for a scene in which 80s scream queen icon Linnea Quigley is impaled topless on a deer’s head.
- Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2, released in 1987, is possibly one of the most bizarre sequels, from a filmmaking standpoint, of all-time. It tells the story of the older brother of the first movie’s Billy named Ricky. Ricky, in a mental hospital and awaiting trial for his own string of murders, tells a psychiatrist about what happened…and this is where the weirdness hits. Instead of just having Ricky tell the story, the filmmakers chose to, wholesale, reuse the exact same footage from the first movie and show it again as a way for Ricky to tell flashbacks. A few new shots are seen to bring Ricky into that story, but it’s mostly the same footage from film 1. In truth, we should be lucky to have that since a (now out of print) DVD commentary claimed that the directors were told to just make a new movie out of the old footage and had to fight to film any new footage at all. After the flashback, Ricky flashbacks his own story and talks about how he was adopted into a good foster family but snapped when his foster father was killed. He tried to get back under control through dating but still became unhinged. This film is also the place where the infamous YouTube meme “Garbage Day” was spawned after Ricky is shown walking up to a random man taking out his garbage, shouting “Garbage Day!”, and shooting him to death. It’s since been appropriated by numerous industrious Youtubers to various other holidays, events, and situations.
- Silent Night, Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out! was released direct-to-video in 1989 and starred genre favorite Bill Moseley as Ricky six years after the previous film. This is also the last time the series relates at all to the original film. I solemnly swear I am not making any of the rest of this series up: A hospital employee dressed as Santa awakens Ricky from a six-year coma during which a strange doctor was attempting to connect with him using a blind, psychic girl named Laura. Ricky follows the girl (through the newfound psychic link) to her grandmother’s house and proceeds to try and kill her, her grandmother and her companions.
- Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: Initiation was released to video in 1990 and featured appearances by genre favorite Reggie Bannister as well as cult actor Clint Howard and Bond girl Maud Adams. It also has probably the most cult-famous director of the series, Brian Yuzna of Society, the two Re-Animator sequels, the (in my opinion awesome) third Return of the Living Dead movie, and the two The Dentist movies.
The movie is about a journalist pursuing a lead on a case involving a burned woman without her editor’s consent. In so doing, she comes to find herself in the middle of a massive witchy cult who attempt to conduct bizarre, sometimes sexual rituals upon her.
- Finally, Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker hit video in 1991 and starred Mickey Rooney as the titular Toy Maker. Yuzna did not direct this evil doll movie, but he did produce and write. It involves a family being terrorized by killer booby-trapped toys. If you dare, the last three films in the series were released in a 3-movie set by Lionsgate in 2009.
4) Puppet Master - Number of films: 12 total (11 sequels)
Many things can be said about Charles Band, but one of the biggest is that the man will milk every last drop he can out of one of his Full Moon franchises. Puppet Master, by far, is the greatest example of this. The original, released direct-to-video in 1989, starred actor William Hickey as Andre Toulon, a puppeteer in 1939 California who created living puppets named Blade, Jester, Pinhead, Tunneler, and Leech Woman (as well as Shredder Khan and Gengie). Toulon was forced to commit suicide before Nazi spies apprehended him, but his puppets survived. 50 years later, a group of psychics (including Irene Miracle from Inferno) meet at an inn in California after having horrific visions of their own deaths. There, while trying to work out what’s going on, they must do battle with Toulon’s puppets…but who’s controlling them?
- Puppet Master II was released in 1991. It introduced a new puppet, Torch, and has a similar plot to the original involving a resurrected Toulon and a series of paranormal investigators investigating the murders in the hotel in the previous movie.
- Puppet Master III: Toulon’s Revenge came out that same year and was a prequel to the original. It was the debut of the puppet Six Shooter and also featured the back story of the Leech Woman and Blade puppets. It told the story of Andre Toulon and his wife in 1941 Germany (yes, two years after he killed himself in the first movie, don’t think about it too hard) and their politically satirical puppet show that got them in trouble with the Nazis who wanted Toulon’s formula for themselves. This is the first of four in the series directed by cult director David DeCocteau, who also gave the world Creepozoids and Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama.
- Puppet Master 4 hit shelves in 1993 and is a timeline sequel to Puppet Master II and features the debut of Decapitron. It discusses the demon lord Sutekh who sends evil Totems from the underworld to earth to stop those who know Toulon’s secrets and kill them. The puppets then help and protect a group of scientists studying them from the Totems’ attempts to kill them.
- Puppet Master 5: The Final Chapter (ha ha) was released in 1994. A direct sequel to 4, it involves Sutekh putting his own power into a Totem and sending it to Earth again to continue his quest from the previous film. The puppets once again must protect the main characters against Sutekh’s totem.
- Curse of the Puppet Master continued the trend of draining all point out of using the word “final” in horror titles when it was released in 1998. The second DeCocteau film, it told the story of the puppets being sold in an auction to a doctor who wanted to study the reanimation process and use it to turn humans into puppets.
- Retro Puppet Master, released in 1999, is, in terms of timeline, a prequel to Puppet Master III and, thus far, the first events in the series. It primarily takes place in 1902 and discusses Toulon’s original adventures and battles with Sutekh in Egypt. It also features the origin of the puppet Pinhead.
- Puppet Master: The Legacy, was released in 2003 and is basically a clipshow in movie form directed by Charles Band that tells the full story of Toulon and the puppets. It is, canonically, the last film in the timeline thus far.
- Puppet Master vs. Demonic Toys was a 2004 crossover film between two Full Moon franchises and co-starred Corey Feldman. It is, according to Charles Band of Full Moon Features, non-canon as it was produced strictly as a Syfy-Channel original movie through Universal.
- Puppet Master: Axis of Evil wa released in 2010 and it is the fourth DeCocteau Puppet Master film. In timeline, it fits between Puppet Master III and the original film. It tells the story of how the puppets survived between Toulon’s suicide and the arrival of the psychics in the first movie.
- The next film was Puppet Master X: Axis Rising released in 2012.
- Finally, Puppet Master: Axis Termination released in 2016 is thus far the last produced film.
5) The Amityville Horror - Number of films: 9 total (7 sequels, 1 remake)
Directed by Stuart Rosenberg and starring James Brolin and Margot Kidder, 1979’s The Amityville Horror was an adaptation of a purportedly true story from author Jay Anson. A financial success for an independent horror film, it tells the tale of the Lutz family and their ordeal moving into a haunted Long Island home. Having purchased the home with full knowledge of its history, the Lutzes attempt to have it blessed and exorcised only to begin experiencing strange dark phenomena and signs of possible possession.
- Amityville II: The Possession was released to theaters in 1982. Its screenplay was written by the director of Halloween III: Season of the Witch, Tommy Lee Wallace, and was based on the book Murder in Amityville. The film is intended as a prequel to the original and starred Rocky actor Burt Young. The events and horrors perpetrated on this family (the Montellis) are darker than those seen in the first film and include murder and incest. The general plot, involving the possessed, haunted house and the exorcising priest, is similar though.
- Amityville 3-D (1983) was unable to be called a sequel due to legal reasons and was an early role of actress Meg Ryan. It was also directed by Richard Fleischer, director of 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, Soylent Green, Conan the Destroyer, and Red Sonja. While it was a theatrical 3D release, it has never been released in any home video format in 3D in the US. It involves a series of skeptics who believe the events claimed to have occurred at the house are hoaxes. They investigate and/or move in with their families and, again, experience various supernatural phenomena.
- Amityville 4: The Evil Escapes (1989) was the TV-movie sequel in the franchise. All sequels following it went direct-to-video. It was the only movie in the series to be based on a book in the actual existing Amityville book series, Amityville: The Evil Escapes. Starring Patty Duke, the movie involves a sale of items from the house after a failed attempt at exorcising it. A lamp purchased at the sale then causes supernatural hijinks in its new home.
- The Amityville Curse (1990) is the only film in the series to have never been released on DVD in the US. Starring Kim Coates, the movie involves a separate Amityville house from the one mentioned in the other four films with a different supernatural backstory. It does feature the same general concept, though, of the haunted house terrorizing its tenants.
- Amityville: It’s About Time (1992) starred Stephen Macht and was directed by Tony Randel, the director of Hellbound: Hellraiser II. It involves an architect who wants to build a series of houses in Amityville. Returning home from an informational trip to Amityville, he brings a clock he found in an old house there. You can guess what happens from there though time and aging becomes more of a factor in the story as it goes on.
- Amityville: A New Generation (1993) is very much a lather, rinse, repeat of some of the prior sequels as a photographer comes into possession of a mirror from the Amityville house that contains the spirit of his father who had been forced to murder his family in the house. Supernatural hijinks inevitably ensue. It actually has a surprising cast including Terry O’Quinn, Richard Roundtree, David Naughton, and Nightmare on Elm Street series alums Lin Shaye and Robert Rusler.
- My personal favorite in terms of titling in the series, Amityville Dollhouse (1996) was the last actual sequel in the series. It involves a dollhouse that looks identical to the original house that is a portal to an alternate dimension and contains voodoo-esque dolls of the present house’s owners.
- Finally, in 2005, MGM used the rights they had picked up from Orion Pictures’s collapse (who’d gotten it from the original American International) to produce the Michael Bay-produced remake that starred Ryan Reynolds and Melissa George. And, if you can believe it, Dimension films, who hold entirely different rights to the story than MGM, now wishes to make a new film based on the story entitled “The Amityville Tapes”. That one’s still in-development though.
6) The Omen - Number of films: 5 total (3 sequels, 1 remake)
1976’s The Omen, starring Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, and Harvey Stephens (as Damien), and directed by Richard Donner of later Superman film fame, found massive success by tilling similar religious-horror ground previously seen by the wild success of The Exorcist. It is the story of the adopted baby son, Damien, of the US Ambassador to Great Britain, Robert Thorn, and the possibility that he may be the Antichrist. As strange events happen and odd circumstances relating to the true identity of Damien’s mother come to light, Robert joins forces with a reporter who believes he knows the truth. The question is, as deaths begin to mount around Robert, does he really believe that Damien is the Antichrist?
- Damien: Omen II was released in 1978 and was set 7 years after the end of the first film. It finds 12-year-old Damien living with another member of the Thorn family, an industrialist. Damien is sent to military school while, once again, strange events surround him, and the people who threaten to impede his progress are often killed horrifically. It once again involves people believing that Damien is the Antichrist and trying to convince others of that fact before it’s too late. This is also the film in which Damien is introduced to the possibility of his lineage himself.
- Omen III: The Final Conflict hit theaters in 1981 and starred the great Sam Neill as now 32-year old Damien who has ascended into his adopted father’s old Ambassador’s role. Upon seeing a celestial alignment that might point to the Second Coming of Christ, Damien orders all sons born on that predicted date killed. Meanwhile a band of priests armed with weapons seen in the other two films that are the only ones that can harm Damien begin a quest to find him and stop his ascension into power.
- And then came Fox. Omen IV: The Awakening was a 1991 TV-movie that was basically an attempt to turn the series into an ongoing series of TV-movies. It failed to do so. It involves a young girl named Delia who shows signs of possibly being the next Antichrist and the efforts of her adopted parents to discover her true backstory.
- Lastly, just like Amityville, The Omen was remade in 2006 starring Liev Schrieber, Julia Stiles, and Mia Farrow. The remake was planned so that its release date would occur at 6:06:06AM on June 6, 2006, aka 6:06:06 6/6/06. Much like the Psycho remake, it was generally panned for being a near shot-for-shot remake.
7) The Blind Dead Series - Number of Films: 4 total (3 sequels)
In the last article I specifically included Zombie/Zombi 2 for two reasons. First, it’s a fascinating tale of marketing across continents; and second, it was foreign. As such, I wanted a foreign series for this batch too. Thus: Amando De Ossorio’s “Blind Dead” Series from Spain. It all begins in 1971 with Tombs of the Blind Dead, aka La Noche del terror ciego. Basically, years before Dan Brown would make discussion of them rampant again via The Da Vinci Code, this film featured The Knights Templar returning from the dead. They are “Blind” dead because their eyes had been pecked away by birds over time. It tells the story of a woman who is killed after finding herself having to stay the night in the ruins in which they are buried and her boyfriend and girlfriend (it was an unspoken love triangle) who attempt to find her. It should be noted that De Ossorio did NOT think of these undead as zombies but rather as mummies that were not “mindless”. They also, being blind, hunted by sound.
- In 1973, De Ossorio would return with the appropriately named Return of the Blind Dead, aka El Ataque de los Muertos Sin Ojos and even Return of the Evil Dead (in case it wasn’t obvious, no, it’s not related to that). There are also multiple cuts of the film depending on the name. There are a few differences here vs. the first film… for instance, the undead’s blindness comes from a different reason. In terms of plot, this is the first film where the creatures are shown to explicitly be Templar Knights (though the symbols on their clothes make it apparent in the first film). A city is celebrating 500 years since the Templars original defeat in Portugal. The Templars this time are resurrected via a human sacrifice on the grounds in which they are buried. Multiple people ignore warnings of the Knights’ return, believing the messengers to be drunk. As such, the Knights arrive in the festival and attack the town, leaving the townsfolk to fight to survive.
- 1974 brought us The Ghost Galleon, aka El Buque maldito or Horror of the Zombies. In it, two swimsuit models head out for a publicity stunt but end up lost in a fog and on a 16th Century ship that carries the Templar’s coffins. Predictably, the Templars awaken and begin the hunt for victims while the models’ boss organizes a team to go and find them.
- In 1975, the series officially concluded with Night of the Seagulls, aka La Noche de las gaviotas. You may remember I mentioned this in the previous one as the “Zombi 8” listing in IMDB created by fans of The Cinema Snob. In this last film, the Knights rise to haunt a fishing town, hunting for maiden sacrifices in exchange for them not hurting the rest of the townspeople.
8) Critters - Number of Films: 4 total (3 sequels)
Critters, released in 1986, was a part of the flood of movies released post-1984 that were believed to be part of the response to the popularity of Gremlins. The director has said his film was not intended to ripoff Gremlins, though, as the script was done before Gremlins’ release and was rewritten slightly in an attempt to minimize similarities. It starred genre favorite Dee Wallace-Stone as the mother of the Brown family and detailed their adventures in dealing with “Crites”: furry, carnivorous aliens who had escaped from a space prison detainment and are being hunted by a pair of space bounty hunters. It also stars Billy Zane.
- Critters 2 (aka Critters 2: The Main Course) hit theaters in 1988 and was directed by Mick Garris. It tells the story of Crites who remained on earth after the first movie, the alien bounty hunters who are forced to return to Earth to take them out, and the town that has to deal with them and fight back. It’s most famous for a scene in which the Crites form a massive ball made up of many of them and roll toward their destination, killing anything in their path.
- Critters 3 (aka Critters 3: You Are What They Eat) was shot back-to-back with Critters 4 and released in 1991. It’s notable for being an early role of Leonardo DiCaprio. Basically, after a Crite lays eggs under a family’s car, they transport the eggs with them to a new city where the Crites begin to attack. The town mechanic from the first movie who became the town sheriff in the second chases after them to destroy them.
- Finally, the last Critters movie thus far was Critters 4 in 1992. It features Angela Bassett and Brad Dourif and continues from Critters 3’s cliffhanger ending. It is, in essence, Critters in Space (which is odd it took this long given that the Crites ARE from space). Two Crites from the previous film escape from a containment pod in the year 2045 after being caught by a salvage ship and proceed to wreak havoc on a space station.
9) Leprechaun - Number of Movies: 7 total (5 sequels - 1 prequel)
The Leprechaun franchise that began in 1993 is basically the goofy comedy-horror cousin of all the other slasher franchises and has been near-universally panned by mainstream critics (and some genre ones). It absolutely has a cult following… but it’s famous for basically being a prototype of the weird places a slasher franchise can go as time goes on (getting there in far fewer movies than Friday the 13th). The original is most famous for being the first on-screen role for Jennifer Aniston and involves a man finding a Leprechaun (played in every film in the series by noted dwarf actor Warwick Davis) and stealing his gold. The Leprechaun chases after him to get it back, only to be caught and imprisoned. He’s released 10 years later and begins a murderous spree to get back his gold.
- The sequel, Leprechaun 2, was released to theaters in 1994. Its…bizarre… plot involves the fulfilling of a prophecy the Leprechaun made in the 11th century to marry a descendant of the man who stopped him from marrying the man’s daughter. Among other strange plot points, it introduces the concept that a Leprechaun can only marry a girl who sneezes 3 times provided no one then says “God Bless You”.
- 1995’s Leprechaun 3 (the first of two consecutive films directed by English director Brian Trenchard-Smith, most notable for Australian exploitation films) was released direct-to-video. Featuring a performance by Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2’s Caroline Williams, the film takes the Leprechaun to the most logical place possible, Las Vegas. It basically involves the Leprechaun killing his way toward a stolen piece of his gold while those who have it make wishes on it.
- 1997’s Leprechaun 4: In Space took place in space (obviously) and involved the Leprechaun attempting to marry a space princess. In trying to do so, he does battle with a battalion of space marines including one played by Miguel Nunez, Jr., aka Spider from Return of the Living Dead.
- A few horror franchises can say they reached the “going to space” chapter (Hellraiser, Friday the 13th, Critters, etc.). Not many can say they reached the “Urban” chapter, but the Leprechaun series did it twice. 2000 gave us the more-comedy-than-horror Leprechaun: In the Hood, featuring Ice-T and Coolio. It basically involves three rappers freeing the Leprechaun who had been imprisoned a record producer. The Leprechaun and the rap producer then both hunt for a magic flute while the rappers try to evade them. This entry has become infamous for scenes in which the Leprechaun smokes weed and raps (to be fair, he’s been speaking in rhyme the entire series).
- 2003 brought us Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood (because it was SUCH a good idea the first time!). In it, a hairdresser finds the Leprechaun’s pot of gold and shares it with her friends. This, of course, causes the Leprechaun to return from Hell and kill anything in his path in an effort to reclaim his treasure.
- Finally, the last film in the series thus far was Leprechaun: Origins (2014).
10) Wishmaster - Number of Movies: 4 total (3 sequels)
If there is any franchise on this list that has been almost completely forgotten, it’s the Wishmaster series. Began in 1997, directed by effects wizard Robert Kurtzman, and produced by Wes Craven, the film also boasts a series of genre icon cameos as Kane Hodder, Tony Todd, Ted Raimi, Joe Pilato, Reggie Bannister, and Robert Englund all put in appearances while Angus Scrimm narrates the initial prologue. However, the star of the film is Andrew Divoff who plays the villainous Djinn (in this and the second entry). The plot is simple: Djinn need to grant three wishes to the person who released them in order to open a portal between Earth, Heaven, and Hell that will allow the Djinn to rule the earth. In 12th Century Persia, a Djinn has almost completed this goal, using an emperor, when the emperor’s sorcerer reveals the Djinn’s plans and traps him in a fire opal. In the present day, the Djinn is unwittingly released and sets about attempting to fulfill enough wishes to rule the world.
- 1999’s Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies was originally premiered on cable before being released on a DVD with the original film. Unlike the first film, it and the rest of the series have nothing to do with Wes Craven. Directed by Jack Sholder (he of Nightmare on Elm Street 2 and Alone in the Dark 1982 fame), it involves the Djinn being unwittingly unleashed during a botched robbery. The Djinn promptly gets himself arrested so as to begin fulfilling another aspect of the prophecy: that he must collect 1001 souls (via wish granting) before then granting the three wishes of the person who released him. Thus, he will be able to bring his race to earth, exterminate humanity, and rule the world.
- 2001 brought Wishmaster 3: Beyond the Gates of Hell (known in England as Wishmaster 3: Devil Stone) direct-to-video. It was filmed back-to-back with the final sequel. The plot involves a college student accidentally unleashing the Djinn from his tomb. She must then stop him from fulfilling the prophecy. It’s notable for a plot point in which the student wishes to summon the Archangel Michael to do battle with the Djinn.
- Finally, in 2002, came Wishmaster 4: The Prophecy Fulfilled. A massive departure for the series, it involves the Djinn being awakened from his tomb and trying to convince the woman who freed him to allow him to grant her wishes to fulfill the prophecy. This time, though, the Djinn is forced to contend with the possibility that he may be falling in love with his master, causing him to agonize over whether or not to grant her final wish.