The golden rule of cinema: never trust a genie.
Wish Upon isn’t just the new horror movie from the director of Annabelle and cinematographer of Joe Dirt (wow, John R. Leonetti has had a diverse career), it’s also a film pairing 17-year-old actress Joey King with 30-year-old Ki Hong Lee as high schoolers. But more importantly than that multifaceted gross fact, Wish Upon follows in a grand tradition of films that encourage, then punish, their protagonists for daring to dream. There’s nothing more delicious than someone wishing for their own downfall, through either the malevolence of the wish-granter or the literalness of the wish’s interpretation. Wish Upon hopes to make a whole film of these repercussions, but before that happens this weekend, you can always catch up on these seven films (and series) that scolded their heroes for their avarice:
The Wishmaster is a terrible genie. There’s almost always the unspoken (or spoken) guideline for djinn that the wishers must use specific diction to signify that it is indeed wishing time. Usually, this is the simple yet effective “I wish…” Wishmaster will find any excuse to cut you a raw deal. If he asks you if you want to see this and you reply that no, in fact, you know that these movies contain some messy kills, he’ll turn you blind. He turns a guy into a door because he says “the only way you’re coming through this door is through me.” Someone wishes for killer sex and you can probably figure out how that ends up for them. The final entry in the series has a wish backfire upon the djinn himself, as he must spend the remainder of the movie making the wisher love him for who he really is: a murderous imp. It’s a terrible horror movie but a great rom-com premise.
It’s the whole premise of Big! Kid Tom Hanks wants to be big (aka regular Tom Hanks) but it turns out, no, no he doesn’t. And let’s not even get into the relationship between a grown woman and a magically-enhanced 12-year-old.
Bedazzled (1967) and (2000)
Both Bedazzleds involve The Devil screwing with a poor schlub. The main difference (besides quality, in which contest the ‘67 version is completely superior) is the gender of Lucifer. One is played by a boyish satirist that wrote the original film, the other by Elizabeth Hurley. The aforementioned schlub trades his soul for seven wishes, but each wish inevitably contains an unwanted addendum including but not limited to: having a small penis, having a large penis but using it on a man (the ‘00 version is the less progressive of the two), being a nun, being a fly, and being Abraham Lincoln the night he is shot. The cleverness of each misdirection is hit-or-miss in both, but a quaint British charm gives the proceedings a light touch compared to the broadness of Brendan Fraser’s performance.
The Cabin in the Woods
Ok, so it’s not technically a wish wish, but you better believe the merman joke is the most satisfying part of the whole movie. Oh, Bradley Whitford. Be careful what you ask for.
Road to Morocco
A small scene in a large and unwieldy adventure comedy, Bob Hope and Bing Crosby have found themselves captive. Awaiting their headless fate, Hope is slipped, well, hope in the form of a magic ring. Three wishes, you know the deal. Unsure if it’ll work, he wishes for a beer. Presto, a wish down. Then, again with the flouting of vocabularic rule, Hope says “Well, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle,” turning into a monkey. Turning back wastes his final wish and we’re all left wondering about the metaphysical implications in an otherwise non-magical film series.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
The film’s villainous Russian (Cate Blanchett) loves aliens. She loves aliens so much she wants to know everything about them. She wants to know everything about them so much that she asks the doofy little grey men for all their knowledge. She gets so much knowledge that she actually blows up. This has been both a factual recount of the ending of this film and a public service announcement/argument for why it shouldn’t count in the Indiana Jones canon.
ABCs of Death 2 (Wish)
This anthology segment is a hilarious parody of action figure commercials that quickly turns into a Hellraiser movie. The kids making the wish in question (to be in the world of their toy heroes) find themselves in a hellscape of torture, war, and death. Tentacles, faceless guard, and a creepy old pedophile await them – if they can survive. If you thought Son of Zorn was what He-Man would be like in real life, I implore you to watch this horror story of wish-fulfillment.