Archive for January, 2013

Former killer cop, officer Cordell is resurrected to take care of some unfinished business and exact revenge on those who have disgraced a policewoman shot in the line of duty.
Despite being made in 1993 Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence reeks of the 80s far more than Cordells rotten flesh, basically it’s part slasher flick, part cop shoot ’em up. There’s stunt doubles, car chases and cops on the edge. To its credit Larry Cohen’s Maniac Cop 3 story touches on some topical issues, problems with gun crime, the TV/press manipulation and corrupt officials.
With a hint of the Bride of Frankenstein and a more blatant supernatural overtone Robert Z’Dar is reduced to a zombie with a bigger chin than Bruce Campbell as wronged cop Matt Cordell. It feels like Z’Dar has less to do this time around and through no fault of his own his character is a shade of grey with his motivations as murky as cities officials.
The casting is above par for this kind of flick. Robert Davi is on form as usual, returning as Det. Sean McKinney and pretty much owns each scene with a Dirty Harry grimace. Top character actors Robert Forster and Paul Gleason have welcomed bit parts with Ted Raimi putting in cameo.
Where as part one shocked because of its daylight surprise setting, two because of its dark tone, grit and seediness part three is only notable for being the darkest looking installment lacking it’s own identity feeling like an episode of the Equaliser starring The Terminator in places. However, where the aforementioned parts were low budget with a big budget results, edgy and delivered shocks, three falls short feeling rushed and underdeveloped retreading the antagonists past and redemption. Nevertheless, to director William Lustig’s credit and writer Cohen 3 manages to mix a voodoo element and the gritty police backdrop successfully unlike for example Halloween 6 which followed two
years later.

Overall, while not as entertaining nor as well executed as its predecessor it’s worth seeing if only for the stunt-work, Caitlin Dulany and Davi’s performances and also to hear Joel Goldsmith overlooked score.

 

UK film distributor 88 films once again thankfully deliver a guilty pleasure of mine on the latest film medium. While an improvement on the transfer of the first and falling slightly short of third probably due to the source material, coming with another collectible booklet and an array of vintage extra and some new surprises it’s a must for puppet master fans.
The puppets return, this time they hunt down some locals and paranormal researchers to assist their master in his evil plan.
Charles Band’s story and David Pabian’s screenplay is almost a remake of the first film. Effects wizard David Allen in the directing chair exceeds the 1st certainly in terms of effects and atmosphere.
While this installment reduces Andre Toulon / Eriquee Chaneé to a walking nod to the Invisible Man and other Universal classic characters, in contrast to how he is presented in the later adventures, it is by far the creepiest of the bunch. Steve Welles performance is wonderfully over the top and steals every scene.
Veteran Nita Talbot is on fine form and the remaining cast are a mixed blessing, Charlie Spradling and Elizabeth Maclellan give solid performances while here at least Collin Bernsen and Jeff Celentano are as mechanical as Tunneler’s innards.
Despite it’s editing and story flaws Allen gives us a darker faster paced and eerier film than it’s predecessor. The flashbacks are welcome and the paranormal investigation angle, while not totally original, gives the proceeds some weight and intrigue. Notably Blade running and jumping from a bed to slice his victim is probably one of best low budget horror moments to date. There are many stand out moments in part 2, Leech Woman’s demise, Torches encounter with a toy whipping boy and the unworldly human puppets reminiscent of the aliens in Carpenter’s (1988)They Live to name a few.
As with all the films in the Puppet Master series they always leave you with one burning question, in the case of two: Why didn’t Julianne Mazziotti/Nita Talbot’s Camille get her own sequel with your favorite little puppets?
Update 28/1/2013: The folks at Full Moon were kind enough to give me an answer: “Many story points in Puppet Master II were influenced by Paramount, not us. That’s why we rebooted the series with PM III.” There’s your official answer.
Some prequels have budgets big enough to buy a small country yet fail to satisfy even the most causal viewer. The third installment of the PuppetMaster series was made in the wake of the 1980’s video boom, in a time when direct-to-video productions were still being shot on in film.

With the recent release of the 1989 original on blu-ray and even though a cult classic the presentation was only a semi-adequate transfer.

However, stop the press, after owning a 1991 VHS and a dubious German DVD version UK distributor 88 Film’s have outdone themselves with this latest blu-ray release. Coming with a collectible booklet I’m happy to say PuppetMaster III exceeds expectations in terms of picture quality (given the budget of the film and the 22 year passage of time), and blu-ray extras.
PuppetMaster 3’s glaring narrative, production faults aside (for which there are countless pages on the net) and budget restrictions, this prequel gives an intriguing insight how those little killer puppets came to be. Set in Berlin 1941, evil Nazi’s want Toulon’s secret formula which animates his puppets to re-animate the Führer’s soldiers and make an unstoppable army for the Aryan race.
The puppets get a run for their money in the acting department this time around. Gestapo officer, Major Krauss played excellently by Richard Lynch steals the show along with James Bond recurring actor Walter Gotell as General Mueller. Both Guy Rolfe as Andre Toulon (previously played by William Hickey) and Sarah Douglas (Superman 1 and 2) as Elsa Toulon bring some emotion to the film.
Naturally there’s Richard Band’s music and thanks to director David DeCoteau and the effects team it’s a blast to see the creation of both Blade and Leech Woman. In addition, Jester gets a fair amount of screen-time.
In a film with reanimated dead soldiers and Nazi’s versus psychotic puppets, you should already know what you’re in for.
Without selling the surprisingly good cast ensemble short it’s a low budget affair but what a recommended  guilty pleasure of entertainment it is. Thank the PuppetMaster for 88 Films!
Where as the first film had the burning question of – What happened to Theresa? The burning question with three is – if Toulon shot himself in 1939 what is he doing alive and well in 1941? Answers on a postcard…

If truth be told I liked 1995’s Judge Dredd. It may not have been what I wanted but it had a decent story, visuals and some interesting sci-fi elements. However, 2012’s Dredd is what I ordered and it delivered.

 Judge Dredd and his trainee sidekick Anderson investigate three homicides in the The Peach Tree block of Mega City 1. However, they find themselves trapped and hunted down in the Megablock by a ruthless drug lord Ma-ma and her gang.

Writer Alex Garland’s use of the indoor setting adds a claustrophobic feel and it’s less comedic and sweeping than Judge Dredd (1995).Director Pete Travis’ slow motion use in segments are novel and graphic and not used as a gimmick, as with The Matrix for example, it serves the story in this case to portray the effects of the drug Slow-mo.

Likable Olivia Thirlby’s acting is perfect, her psychic character Anderson is the most intriguing and you care about the rookie going through her paces along side Dredd. Although Lena Headey as Ma-Ma is debatably less effective here the balance is restored with Karl Urban’s screen presence as Judge Dredd, Urban is probably one of the few character actors of the genre that could pull off such a hard hitting role. Thirlby and Urban have great chemistry and the script has some great one liners without going over the top.

Dredd doesn’t try to be anything it’s not, nothing feels forced and its linear story is probably it’s biggest strength, it’s a day in the life of Dredd, on the job. It’s dark, it’s gritty, it’s ominous and hard hitting. There are plenty of surprises but it doesn’t try to be too clever and there is a natural progression of the well crafted action setups.

With accompanying pumping music from Paul Leonard-Morgan, Travis delivers on excitement, not since Robocop (1987) (which it arguably surpasses) has sci-fi been so satisfying, entertaining, yet, violent in a stylistic grounded fashion. Highly recommended.

There’s something creepy about inanimate objects coming to life, Puppetmaster is no exception. It’s no secret Fullmoon’s 1989 Puppetmaster is one of my guilty pleasures, forget Magic, Child’s Play and Dolls this is the one that sucks me back in, arguably for all the wrong reasons. Let’s put nostalgia aside, some of the performances are hammy, some of the effects are ropy (even for the time) and that’s just touching the surface.
Puppetmaster through all it’s faults has a great premise with charm to match courtesy of director David Schmoeller. Some of the puppet effects to David Allen and Mark Rappaport’s credit are very well executed and Richards Bands accompanying music score is genuinely creepy.
I’ve owned it on most home video mediums (sad I know) and was pretty excited to get on blu-ray. Apparently UK distributor 88 films press has the edge over it’s US release and DVD, nevertheless its not as clean nor sharp as one would have hoped or expected for a Blu-ray transfer but it is worth getting just to see those good puppets turn bad in producer/writer Charles Band’s preferred aspect ratio.
For those who are not familiar with the plot by Kenneth J. Hall and Band the film begins in 1939 with Nazis arriving at the Bodega Bay hotel in search of Andre Toulon (William Hickey) who holds the secret of bring the dead to life. Cut-to the ‘present day’, a group of psychics assemble to pay their last respects to their shady acquaintance Neil Gallagher and his widower, however things go bad when the Toulon’s puppets begin to kill the guests but who is behind the puppets killing spree?

Thankfully Paul Le Mat and Robin Frates straight performances give the film some weight but the killer puppets themselves are the stars of the show each with their own personalities, with names like Blade, Pinhead, Ms Leech Woman and Tunneler you know your in for a good time. Thanks to Sergio Salvati’s cinematography Puppetmaster is has a quirky dreamlike quality that many big budget horror films lack. But the question is, and one more pressing than – what is the meaning of life? The biggest question is what happened to Theresa? Answers on a postcard…

 

Update 31/1/2013: The folks at Full Moon were kind enough to give me an answer: “No scene was cut.” “It’s just left ambiguous.” There’s your official answer.