Puppet Master III (UK - BD RB)
Marcus takes a trip back in time to watch an evil puppet show with the Nazis...
Berlin 1941. Andre Toulon (Guy Rolfe) has set up a politically satirical puppet show for children but when the Nazis delve deeper into his show, they realise there is more making Toulon's puppets come to life and systematically destroy Toulon's life to obtain his secrets.
Flashback time. After Puppet Master II's attempt to bring something new to the table (human sized puppets with spirits of the dead controlling them), the threequel wisely pretends that never happened and goes back to Toulon's past and the secrets behind the animated puppets and their supernatural power.
Saying this third outing is a better plotted story than the previous movie isn't saying too much but it is and it also manages to give the puppets some sort of narrative spine while holding back on the more campy elements (though of course they are not totally gone). Sure, the puppets still feel like an attacker that anyone could fight off with the minimum of effort (yet can't seem to) and the closer you look at the film, the more ridiculous a view of wartime Germany it seems to be but something about the combination of wild Nazis, husbands seeking revenge and the supernatural feels easier to swallow than what had come before in Puppet Master II.
I wouldn't call myself a fan of the Puppet Master series as such but I'm closing in on having seen half of this franchise now and I can't deny a bit of me was intrigued by the history of the puppets and how they came to be in this story. Sure it's kinda dumb and it's all very typical for this area of the horror genre but like most horror origin stories it's hard to turn away, even when they are terrible movies. Thankfully Puppet Master III isn't a terrible movie, it's just a sort of silly one but at least the story in this one had something to get invested in and director David DeCoteau handles the craziness very well indeed.
This is pretty much the same overhaul as what was seen with Puppet Master II. There's a slightly murkier appearance in places as this is a darker movie and there's a fair bit of digital noise and grain that sometimes feels as if we're looking at the film through gauze but even with all that said, there's obviously a vast HD improvement here.
Colours are strong and warm, detail can be crisp and in some cases quite amazing considering the 1991 release of this direct-to-video horror. The close ups for the puppets can look amazing and certainly are the best the models have looked at the this point in the franchise and despite the film's micro budget, this Blu-ray release far outshines what you'd expect of it and in some elements even rivals much bigger studio horror of the same era.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track feels incredibly hollow and extremely centre based. The track just doesn't spread far enough. There's a bit of over bearing bass in certain sections that sounds unbalanced and the score sounds a little wavy like a wobbly tape in places too. Hiss plays a big part in the dialogue and sound effects and both of these elements vary between feeling adequate and a bit thin within the track. Of course, overall this is an improvement to what must have been available in the film's history but this is a track that probably didn't need the 5.1 option and should have stuck with the 2.0 track, that is also on the disc and is more akin to what you'd expect from the film.
We start with the same 'Charles Band Introduction' (02:35 HD) as what was on the Puppet Master 2 disc. The commentary with Director David Decoteau and screenwriter of C. Coutney Joyner, is a fun track as they let us in to the world of Full Moon productions and the Puppet Master franchise. It's good for behind the scenes stories as the duo share their insight but it's not all that engaging.
There's also another of the retro awesome 'Videozone making of' videos (25:20 SD) from their video magazine series as well as a trailer and a couple of commercials for the toys.
Well Puppet Master III was an improvement over Puppet Master II but at the end of the day it's still just a low budget movie about unconvincing killer puppets (even if the crazy Nazi spin somehow makes it more convincing). The disc is another pretty impressive upgrade for a low budget, early nineties horror but the sound is lacking and the extras only just about delivers with their retro goodness.
* Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 18 years and over
Release Date: 22nd October 2012
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Extras: Commentary, Making of, Trailers
Easter Egg: No
Director: David DeCoteau
Cast: Guy Rolfe, Richard Lynch, Ian Abercrombie
Length: 82 minutes
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