Full Moon / Region A / Rated R / 1.78:1 widescreen / 5.1 surround / 257 minutes (features)
Puppet Master: Special Introduction By Charles Band / Promo For Puppet Master: Axis Of Evil / No Strings Attached: Original Making Of / Original Trailers
Puppet Master II: Special Intro And Audio Commentary By Charles Band / Original Full Length Videozone / Killer Puppet Master Montage / Full Moon Trailers / Rare 1997 Puppet Master Action Figure Commercial
Puppet Master III: Special Intro By Charles Band / Audio Commentary By David DeCoteau & C. Courtney Joyner / Original Full Length Videozone / Killer Puppet Master Montage / Full Moon Trailers / Rare 1997 Puppet Master Action Figure Commercial
In 1989 Charles Band created Full Moon Features out of the ashes of Empire Pictures—known for such classics as Ghoulies, Stuart Gordon’s Re-Animator and From Beyond and even Troll. Band and his new company would team with Paramount Pictures to distribute low-budget direct-to-home-video horror, sci-fi and fantasy films that actually look as good as Hollywood movies. Their first try was director David Schmoeller’s Puppet Master in 1989, story concept by Band and Kenneth J. Hall, screenplay by Joseph G. Collodi (Schmoeller’s nom de plume). The film was a smash hit on VHS so in 1991 Full Moon would release Puppet Master II and III: Toulon’s Revenge (its fifth and sixth film respectively) and also begin its ongoing behind-the-scenes series VideoZone as an extra on the Full Moon releases. In 1995 the home video market was saturated and losing money so Band would sever ties with Paramount and begin distributing his own titles.
Toulon pre re-animation
After years on VHS and a dubious life on DVD—which were taken from the same VHS materials that were formatted for TVs (1.33:1)—Band and company finally remastered Puppet Master from the original film materials onto DVD and glorious Blu-ray in 2010. With the format and colors corrected and timed, Full Moon’s first feature film was also its first High Definition re-release. The story of “The Puppet Master” series follows German puppeteer Andre Toulon and his magical (and sometimes murderous) band of animated marionettes. The first classic film opens with Toulon killing himself as the Nazis are closing in on him to steal his secrets of animating the lifeless during WWII. Flash-forward to present day (late ’80s, early ’90s) where four psychics are called to an abandoned hotel where their comrade in the supernatural has recently died. After some snooping around they find that he may have found Toulon’s secrets but they are now protected by his deadly little buddies; Blade, Tunneler, Ms. Leech, Pinhead and Jester. Mayhem ensues.
Earlier this year (2012) Full Moon released their third and fourth High Definition Blu-rays (the second being the 20th Anniversary Edition of Subspecies) of Puppet Master II and III likely since the two were released the same year originally. Part two picks up pretty much where the first left off but this time it’s paranormal researchers who come to the hotel after getting reports of the psychics being murdered and other ghostly weirdness. The puppets have been masterless for a while and are becoming weak so they decide to dig up Toulon and use the serum that gives them life to re-animate him. He wraps up his head (looking much like Darkman) and meets the scientists using the name “Eriquee Chaneé”. He must kill all of them, suck out their brain goo and make the neon green stuff that keeps him and his little buddies alive. We also get a little insight on how Toulon initially got the secrets to life from a gypsy during his tour as a children’s puppeteer putting on shows. More mayhem ensues.
Toulon post re-animation
The third—and possibly my favorite of the trilogy—is subtitled Toulon’s Revenge, but not for anything that happened in the second installment, no. This one takes a leap back in time to when the puppet master was living in Nazi Germany and doing his shows with the stringless marionettes. The evil Gestapo Major Klaus (the legendary exploitation film actor Richard Lynch) and his geeky scientist sidekick Dr. Hess (the also legendary Ian Abercrombie) are trying to learn to bring dead soldiers back to life but just can’t crack it, that is until the see Toulon’s puppet show. They bring a squad of stormtroopers to kidnap the Puppet Master but his wife Elsa (the, you guessed it, legendary Sarah Douglas) gets in the way and is shot dead. Now is the time for some revenge. So with the help of his killer dolls (whoops, “puppets”) and Peter, a little boy who is mesmerized by the great Toulon and his show, he will get justice for the woman he loves. Obviously, mayhem ensues.
Before seeing these remastered classics, I was not at all familiar with the Full Moon canon of films. Somehow in my years of horror fanaticism and seeing the VHS tapes sitting on my local rental shop’s shelves I just overlooked them, foolishly passing them off as shitty low-budget hackery. I could not have been more incorrect in my assumption. These movies have the look of big-budget horror movies and the soul of child-like wonder and fantasy. They are by no means for children but the stories they tell and the whimsical theme and score are just uniquely fanciful. In fact, I was also surprised at the ferocity of the violence and gore (though not overly gory) and the abundance and quality of boobs. It was great how each movie had new puppets with awesome, original abilities and ingenious how the origins of each were told without being heavy-handed. These new remastered disks are incredibly film-like and blow away a lot of the big deal Hollywood companies Blu-rays. I am more than impressed with these releases and with Charles Band who you meet in the introduction to each of the disks.
Pick up the original trilogy in this awesome BLU-RAY COLLECTION BOX SET directly from Full Moon Direct!