Blu-ray Review: Puppet Master III: Toulon’s Revenge (1991)

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Puppet Master III: Toulon's Revenge BR CoverDistributor: 88 Films

BBFC Classification: 18

Director: David DeCoteau

Starring: Guy Rolfe, Richard Lynch, Ian Abercrombie, Walter Gotell, Sarah Douglas, Aron Eisenberg

The tagline for Puppet Master III reads ‘When Good Puppets Go Bad’ which, if you were cynical, could be an indication of the quality level of the series, especially after the lacklustre second film. In time-honoured franchise tradition, Puppet Master III is a prequel to the first two films that concentrates on puppet maker Toulon and the events that lead up to his suicide which we saw at the beginning of the first film (although the date they established in that film is still different to what it is here).

In Berlin during World War II a scientist named Dr. Hess (Ian Abercrombie – Firewalker) witnesses a puppet show performed by Toulon (Guy Rolfe – Dolls), where the puppets seem to be moving without the aid of strings. Hess has been ordered by Gestapo leader Major Kraus (Richard Lynch – Halloween/Deathsport) to come up with a formula that will reanimate dead soldiers to use as living shields and Hess thinks he has found the answer. However, Continue reading

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Blu-ray Review: Puppet Master II (1990)

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Puppet Master II BR CoverDistributor: 88 Films

BBFC Classification: 18

Director: David Allen

Starring: Elizabeth Maclellan, Collin Bernsen, Steve Welles, George ‘Buck’ Flower, Greg Webb, Nita Talbot

Well, something must have gone right because in 1990 a sequel was released. Directed by special effects supremo David Allen (Ghostbusters II/Bride of Re-Animator), Puppet Master II sees the deadly dolls going to the grave of their master Toulon and reanimating his corpse with the last of the Egyptian magic potion. Skip forward a few months and a new group of parapsychologists ascend on the Bodega Bay Inn to investigate what happened to the Gallaghers, and before long they fall prey to Blade, Pinhead, Leech Woman, Tunneler, Jester and new puppet Torch – armed with a flamethrower, of course – as they need human brains so Toulan (Steve Welles) can make more magic potion to keep them alive.

Pretty much a retread of Puppet Master, Puppet Master II is a little less complex on the plot details although it does expand on the Toulon mythology. One of the major differences is in the puppet effects, which are Continue reading

Blu-ray Review: Puppet Master (1989)

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Puppet Master BR CoverDistributor: 88 Films

BBFC Classification: 18

Director: David Schmoeller

Starring: Paul Le Mat, William Hickey, Irene Miracle, Jimmie F. Skaggs, Robin Frates, Barbara Crampton

In Puppet Master we are introduced to Andre Toulon (William Hickey – National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation), a puppeteer hiding from the Nazis in 1939. Toulon is an alchemist and uses Egyptian magic to bring his ghoulish puppets to life, and just as the Nazis burst in on him he hides his creations in the wall of his room and blows his brains out.

Fast forward 50 years and a group of psychics gather at a clifftop hotel where Neil Gallagher (Jimmie F. Skaggs), one of their colleagues, killed himself after apparently discovering Toulon’s secret of bringing inanimate objects to life. However, as they investigate their friend’s death the group are stalked by the merciless killer dolls who will stop at nothing to try and protect their master’s secrets.

Cheap and cheerful – which really was the idea behind Full Moon Features – Puppet Master was released just in time to catch Continue reading

Blu-ray Review: Phantom of the Paradise (1974)

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Phantom of the Paradise BR CoverDistributor: Arrow Video

BBFC Classification: 15

Director: Brian De Palma

Starring: Paul Williams, William Finley, Jessica Harper, Gerrit Graham, Archie Hahn

Brian De Palma isn’t really a director that you’d associate with rock operas but back in 1974 he set about creating exactly that, and when you cast your eyes over his catalogue of work some 40 years later Phantom of the Paradise does stick out somewhat. But under closer inspection there are many of the De Palma trademarks at work here, and thanks to Arrow Video it all looks and sounds nice and sparkly.

Phantom of the Paradise combines elements of The Phantom of the Opera, Faust and The Picture of Dorian Gray and nails it all together with a 1970s rock opera score and a faux-futuristic sheen that gives it a sci-fi look. The story follows composer Winslow Leach (William Finley – Eaten Alive/The Fury) as he makes a deal with egomaniac music producer Swan (Paul Williams) to provide the music for Swan’s latest venture, the lavish Paradise rock club. However, Swan doesn’t want Leach’s choice of Continue reading

DVD Review: Doctor Mordrid (1992)

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Doctor Mordrid DVD CoverDistributor: 88 Films

BBFC Classification: 15

Directors: Albert Band, Charles Band

Starring: Jeffrey Combs, Brian Thompson, Jay Acovone, Yvette Nipar, Jeff Austin

Originally released in 1992, Doctor Mordrid is one of those early ’90s gems that stylistically was trying to fit in with the new decade but still looked like something that belonged to the previous one. Jeffrey Combs (Castle Freak/From Beyond) plays the titular Mordrid, an ancient sorcerer who has been protecting the Earth from evil for over a hundred years. His brother Kabal (Brian Thompson – Cobra/Fright Night Part 2) is also a powerful sorcerer and is hellbent on enslaving all of humanity, so cue lots of echoey Continue reading