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review added: 5/24/00



The Puppet Master DVD Collection

reviews by Todd Doogan of The Digital Bits

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Puppet Master 5

Puppet Master 5: The Final Chapter
1994 (2000) - Full Moon (Koch Vision)

Film Rating: D (on the Puppet Master scale)

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B-/C/B

Specs and Features:

82 mins, R, full frame (1.33:1), single-sided, single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, cast and crew bios with animation, trailer, website ad, commercial for Full Moon Toys, Full Moon Video Zone featurette: Behind the Scenes: Puppet Master 5, intro by producer Charles Band, interview with actress Meg Foster, trailers for Shrunken Heads, Oblivion, Trancers 5: Sudden Death, Dark Angel: The Ascent, H.P. Lovecraft's The Lurking Fear and Invisible: The Chronicles of Benjamin Knight, merchandise ad, film-themed menu screens with animation and sound, scene access (18 chapters), languages: English (DD 2.0), subtitles: none



Curse of the Puppet Master

Curse of the Puppet Master
1998 (2000) - Full Moon (Koch Vision)

Film Rating: F (on the Puppet Master scale)

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B-/C/B

Specs and Features:

78 mins, R, full frame (1.33:1), single-sided, single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, cast and crew bios with animation, trailers for the Puppet Master films, website ad, commercial for Full Moon Toys, Full Moon Video Zone featurette: Behind the Scenes: Making of Curse of the Puppet Master, intro by producer Charles Band, trailers for Shrieker, The Creeps and Hideous!, merchandise ad, film-themed menu screens with sound, scene access (24 chapters), languages: English (DD 2.0), subtitles: none



Retro Puppet Master

Retro Puppet Master
1999 (2000) - Full Moon (Koch Vision)

Film Rating: B (on the Puppet Master scale)

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B-/C/B

Specs and Features:

80 mins, R, full frame (1.33:1), single-sided, single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, cast and crew bios with animation, trailer, website ad, commercial for Full Moon Toys, Full Moon Video Zone featurette: Behind the Scenes of Retro Puppet Master with intro by producer Charles Band, commercial for Puppet Master Dolls, trailers for Blood Dolls and Totem, film-themed menu screens with animation and sound, scene access (18 chapters), languages: English (DD 2.0), subtitles: none



Full Moon 45 Trailer Reel

Full Moon 45 Title Trailer Reel
Various (2000) - Full Moon (Koch Vision)

Film Rating: N/A

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio): C-/C

Specs and Features:

87 mins, NR, full frame (1.33:1), single-sided, single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, 45 trailers for Full Moon films, promo trailer for Full Moon website, promo trailer for Full Moon Dolls, program-themed menu screens, scene access (45 chapters), languages: English (DD 2.0), subtitles: none


All right... let's cover the rest of this series and talk DVD quality.

Puppet Master 5: The Final Chapter

Yeah right - Final Chapter my ass. Myers and the puppets must battle the Totem again, after it reanimates itself as a doll. The problem is, the Totem wasn't bargaining for the Decapitron to hold a secret identity. When it's all over, a new puppet master will reign supreme... but who will it be? The Totem, Toulon or Rick?

As I mentioned, this film was made back to back with part 4 and is just as cheesy. These two aren't my favorite films. Gone are the psychotic puppets and in is the happy human-friendly breed. Now they kill creatures form another dimension and other dolls. That's no good. I want some head drillings and knife-in-the-eye action. Oh well... there's a few more to go.

Curse of the Puppet Master

Some guy named Dr. Magrew is trying to continue the work of Toulon and bring puppets to life. Someone should have shown him the other films in the series. Well, Magrew's idea for continuing the good puppet master's work is to make a breed of human puppets that are better than human and just as psycho as any puppet. Magrew's daughter Jane discovers his plans and watches helplessly as the puppets (stored away in a "House of Marvels") show the doctor the errors in judgment he's made... but not before he makes a few successful transplants.

Ho-hum. Well... the series gets back to the killing with this one, but it serves more as a curiosity piece that anything else. The series had me up until parts 4, 5 and this one. I'm getting too old for rooting for a bunch of puppets to poke, slash and crush. Maybe a new generation will be more into it than I. But I'll always have the first three to keep me going.

Retro Puppet Master

Okay, see... this is what daddy wanted. Band and crew chucked off the chains of the sequels and have written themselves some new rules. We have the 1944 Toulon we're all used to, but we also have a retro storyline, about how a young puppeteer named Toulon got his powers in 1902. Apparently, he got the formula from a wizard, who stole it from an ancient religious cult, who worshiped an Egyptian god or something named Sutekh. Still with me? Fans will remember that this god/creature was first brought up in Puppet Master 4 and 5. Many will die, including some of Toulon's friends (which, as we know from part 3, inhabit the bodies of the puppets). Oh... and a new line of toys will be created, with dolls like Dr. Death and Cyclops, and a whole new look (or old look, depending how you look at it) will be given to our favorites. Got to love Charles Band for making sure our hunger for collecting would have a new menu.

This is a pretty good flick for a Puppet Master sequel. Everyone will have something to cling to - cool dolls, cool deaths, exotic castle locals and bad acting. I don't know why I forgive bad acting in films like this, but I do. To be honest, the last thing I want to do is watch a movie that features bad production values, but these films are popular and they're on DVD. People like this stuff, and if you expose yourself to crap long enough, you find yourself liking it as well and making up excuses for it. Full Moon stuff is pretty much garbage - no one is going to loose sleep if they stop churning it out. But it's also entertaining garbage, so I'll watch it.

Full Moon 45 Title Trailer Reel

There's one last disc in this set. And no... this isn't an 8th Puppet Master film (although I'm sure one is on the way). This is a disc full of trailers for 45 films in the Full Moon universe, including the complete Puppet Master series. Not all of these films are on DVD, but that doesn't really matter. You wouldn't want to pay money for this trailer collection, but since you get it here as a throw-in bonus, what the heck. If you've never been exposed to some of these films, it's a nice way to introduce yourself to them. Keep in mind, however, that many of them are included on the other discs in this package as well. And if you get sucked into the Full Moon universe, you may never be the same again. Just a friendly warning.

DVD Quality

This new box set from Full Moon preserves all the films on our favorite digital format in okay form. They're all full frame on DVD, but keep in mind that they were all shot that way for video, so you're not missing anything. All of the discs could be better - that's a given. If you've seen anything from Full Moon on DVD in the past, you know what I'm talking about. The blacks are not as solid as they could be, with NTSC noise and artifcating everywhere. Some are better than others, but generally speaking, they're all pretty much lacking video-wise. You know you have problems when you can tell that the company's logo looks like it was taken off a faulty video master tape. The audio is just okay as well. The film audio is better than the audio on the supplements at least. I'll get into that more in the next paragraph. It's more a mono mix than stereo, but it's okay. I wouldn't expect 5.1 soundfield for any of these films, but it would be nice wouldn't it?

Six of the seven films in this set are almost identical in the approach taken for the menu screens. Curse of the Puppet Master is the renegade, with totally different functions than everything else. Where six of the films have animated menu screens, Curse has a still menu with sound only. But Curse also has a complete collection of trailers for the other films, where the others just have their individual trailer preserved on disc. So what are you going to do? Some uniformity would have been nice. The same can be said of the packaging. While the cover art and spines look good, the backs of these discs don't always follow the same format... or even use the same font. Someone clearly didn't bother to sweat the details much on these discs.

The supplements themselves are a mixed bag. On video, Full Moon features have what is known as a Video Zone, which is a video magazine dedicated to the feature on the tape and some coming soon material. Mostly, they're a half-hour in length, but you will find a few that clock in at 15 to 17 minutes long. The information is behind-the-scenes stuff, with interviews, effects shots and trailers for other notable Full Moon classics. All of these discs have their own Video Zone from the original video release. The information is cool and some of it is quite interesting. My favorite things in the Video Zone are the merchandise infomercials, hosted by female stars from past films. These gals really look like they're having fun shilling, God bless them. The sound and video quality on the Video Zone's are lacking in spots, with some drop out noted on both fronts. Still, it's a nice addition and worth going through. Also added are some cool animated cast and crew bios, that run through all the films the actors made based on each decade. If they were important enough, you'll find a bio for them. All in all, it's a nice presentation for the Puppet Master films.

A couple last things to note here - of these films, only the original Puppet Master, Curse of the Puppet Master and Retro Puppet Master are available separately on DVD. And there will likely be no new VHS releases of these films in the foreseeable future. That's because, while Full Moon retains the digital disc rights to the series, Paramount owns the VHS rights (and I can't see them putting these films out again anytime soon). All of this makes this boxed set worthy of picking up if you're a fan. The price is certainly right (anywhere between $70 and $100 depending on where you buy it... which is at least $50 cheaper than you'd expect any other studio to sell them for). If you love the Puppet Master series, go grab yourself a box-full of these flicks and then head over to your favorite comic shop to get yourself a bunch of the dolls. Just be careful at night - toys have a life of their own. Hahahahahahahahahaha... cough, cough, cough! Haha!

Todd Doogan
todddoogan@thedigitalbits.com


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The Puppet Master DVD Collection


Retro Puppet Master


Curse of the Puppet Master


The Puppet Master Boxed Set


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