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Puppet Master II(1991)
The puppets return, this time they hunt some Paranormal Researchers to take their brain fluid for the dead/living puppet master, Andre Toulon...
For more about Puppet Master II and the Puppet Master II Blu-ray release, see Puppet Master II Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on October 7, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Elizabeth Maclellan, Collin Bernsen, Steve Welles, Greg Webb, Charlie Spradling, Jeff Celentano
Director: Dave Allen
» See full cast & crew
Puppet Master II Blu-ray Review
Twice the fun, double the terror, two times the camp, and one fantastic Blu-ray transfer.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, October 7, 2012
Horrible little demons!
Movie killers come in all shapes and sizes: there's the hulking Jason Voorhees, the averagely built Freddy Krueger, the diminutive Leprechaun, and the doll-sized Chucky. There are even slimy aliens and massive predators with a pretty good track record of screen kills. Amongst the lesser known killers, and quite possibly the screen's smallest, is the assortment of puppets from Charles Band's cult favorite series Puppet Master. These little guys might not have size on their side, but they're strong, varied, unique, work well together, and silently go about their business through a long-running series that's about to be at a cool ten films with the pending release of Puppet Master X: Axis Rising. Puppet Master II, then, is a film in which the series begins to find its stride, now building on established success and not simply taking a chance on novelty. It returns favorite puppets and introduces a few more -- and a couple quite unlike anything the first film had to offer. It's simple and at times goofy but nonetheless entertaining, a devious and playful little slice of light camp Horror cinema primed to please any and all fans of such films.
Several paranormal investigators -- Carolyn (Elizabeth Maclellan), her brother Patrick (Gregory Webb), Camille (Nita Talbot), Lance (Jeff Weston), and Wanda (Charlie Spradling) -- have arrived at the Bodega Bay Inn to investigate the murder of Megan Gallagher and determine the guilt or innocence of insane asylum resident Alex Whitaker. Little do they know that the house isn't home to strange apparitions but instead demonic, living puppets bent on murder. The puppets have just exhumed the body of their master, Andre Toulon, who requires human brain matter as the main ingredient in a special recipe that will transfer his soul to another host suitable to be seen by man. As the puppets do his bidding, a heavily bandaged Toulon approaches the Inn's uninvited guests and sees in Carolyn the embodied reincarnation of his departed wife, Elsa. He and his minions will stop at nothing to succeed in their mission and make Carolyn his bride and partner in plastic while completing the formula to bring Toulon back to life for good.
Puppet Master II isn't really all that. It's a serviceably fun movie that's heavy on the camp and low on dramatic purpose and memorable themes. Fortunately, the formula works, and really, how could it not when a movie combines killer puppets, the occult, the paranormal, dark sciences, and sex? It's the perfect formula for cinema cheese of the highest order, and that's exactly what the film is and all it needs to be. Puppet Master II champions all sorts of fun little attributes, like collecting brain samples, setting ablaze a young boy with a penchant for stripping down and whipping action figures (talk about off the deep end), and constructing a paranormal investigative team with a bunch of sex-crazed individuals. That's not even to mention the Darkman/The Invisible Man-inspired villain who turns to grotesque wizardry in hopes if inhabiting a mannequin and taking an unwilling human woman as his plastic bride. Puppet Master II is a breeding ground for the ridiculous, but it all works surprising well together because the movie takes on a classic playful, wink-and-a-nod approach. It's meant to be fun, not high art, and even if the movie doesn't quite find the same level of novelty or the same dramatic interest as the original, it's a quality little effort that should satisfy genre fans looking for something easy but at the same time unique and completely off-the-wall crazy.
Would-be fans might be disappointed that there's not more in the way of hardcore gore in Puppet Master II, but the movie more than makes up for its shortcomings in blood and guts with creepy and very well-designed little puppets and some fine makeup work revealed near film's end. The puppets look fantastic; the production team has given them personalities and character quirks that bring them to life with arguably more efficiency than the stop motion animation. They're clever and unique (one is even dissected) and perhaps some of the more unheralded of Horror movie characters. Just as critical in masking the shortage of hardcore blood and guts is the film's ability to create a creepy atmosphere and sometimes unsettling rhythm. The movie suffers through some monotonous stretches, but it remains catchy and fun even when poor acting, needless character development, and sex for sex's sake all get in the way of puppet slashing goodness.
Puppet Master II Blu-ray, Video Quality
Longtime Full Moon fans are in for a treat with Puppet Master II. The film doesn't look good, it looks great. Those who have only seen it on lower-resolution home video formats or wavy VHS copies (which would be most fans) will be blown away, and videophiles should also be ecstatic with the end result. Full Moon's presentation comes framed at 1.78:1 and yields a highly impressive film-like texturing. Grain remains throughout the presentation, and details are consistently crisp and complex. The image is almost always razor-sharp and looks fantastic across the board, save for a few worn-down stills of the Bodega Bay Inn and a stray soft edge or two. Fine detail is extraordinary on close-up shots of the puppets; very fine lines, intricate little details, and light wear and tear visible on each one gives them a character that just isn't so readily visible on lower resolution formats. Clothing lines and human skin textures are equally impressive and complex, and perhaps the single best example of the image's high-yield details comes in the bandages wrapping Toulon's face, whether appearing initially clean and crisp or progressively more worn and dirty. Colors are even and accurate, perhaps just a hair bright but capturing the early 1990s clothing styles as well as natural green vegetation with equal precision. Black levels never stray very far from the natural, and flesh tones appear to capture accurate shades. The image sees a few intermittent and very light speckles and scattered edge halos. Otherwise, this one's an unequivocal winner and, hopefully, a first look at what should be a fantastic wave of Blu-ray releases from Full Moon.
Puppet Master II Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Puppet Master II conjures up a measly Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack that, unfortunately, is nowhere near the same quality as the revelatory high definition transfer. The track offers a fairly limited range from the start. The opening music fails to present audiences with a wide, aggressive soundstage. Raw energy is lacking, too, as is clarity. The presentation often has a low, muffled, sometimes slightly scratchy sound about it. Big sound effects like booming thunder come across with little potency and presence. Lighter ambience, such as seaside sounds or light footsteps, also play with limited sonic accuracy, coming across as harshly digital at times rather than natural. Some effects do find greater clarity and a better, more natural presence, but the track seems rather wishy-washy as it goes back and forth between "acceptable" and "borderline poor." Dialogue is generally clear and focused but not quite so natural and effortless when compared to what the average higher-end lossless track has to offer. It's a shame the audio couldn't match the excellence of the video presentation, but this is an older, lower budget film. Here's hoping future installments (and additional Full Moon titles) might earn audio tracks that match, or approach, the high quality of the video presentations.
Puppet Master II Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Puppet Master II contains an audio commentary track as its primary bonus feature.
Puppet Master II Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Puppet Master II brings a whole lot of stuff to the table, and it all gels surprisingly well. Blood, sex, the occult, dark science, murderous puppets, and mannequins all play a part in shaping a movie in which most every element sticks and ticks alike. Of course, the production values outside of the puppets are rather low and the acting borders on the miserable, but does any of that really matter when a movie features gratuitous breast shots, a puppet with a drill on its head tearing into a man's brain, a puppet with a flamethrower on its arm torching a snotty little kid, and an undead human wanting to transfer his soul to a plastic mannequin? It's a lot of rubbish made to work thanks to rather good, steady direction and in a tribute to campy cinema that genre fans shouldn't miss! Full Moon's Blu-ray release of Puppet Master II features fantastic remastered video that's going to please a whole lot of fans. Also included is a rather disappointing soundtrack and a decent collection of extras highlighted by an excellent Charles Band commentary. Recommended to both established fans and curious genre aficionados of all things Horror-camp.
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