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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Attack of the Puppet People [Blu-ray]

 

(Bert I. Gordon, 1958)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: American International Pictures (AIP)

Video: Shout! Factory

 

Disc:

Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:19:00.861

Disc Size: 23,962,155,734 bytes

Feature Size: 22,338,048,000 bytes

Video Bitrate: 31.99 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: November 14th, 2017

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1841 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1841 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Commentary:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1684 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1684 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)

 

Subtitles:

English, none

 

Extras:

NEW Audio Commentary With Author And Film Historian Tom Weaver
• Theatrical Trailer

Image Gallery (Posters, title cards glossies)

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: "She’s a living doll!", changes from a flattering expression to a terrifying reality when a certifiably deranged maniac creates a shocking device that shrinks people to foot-high figurines!

Mr. Franz is a kindly, old, silver-haired doll-maker ... who turns people into living puppets! He then forces his human re-inventions to put on parties and sing to him! But one day, tired of being toyed with, the puppets launch an attack, and suddenly Mr. Franz finds he’d better stop playing (and start praying) because the miniature moppets are hell-bent on revenge!

Directed by cult filmmaker Bert I. Gordon (Empire of the Ants, The Amazing Colossal Man), the film features an all-star cult movie cast including John Agar (Tarantula, The Mole People, Invisible Invaders), June Kenney (Earth vs. The Spider), John Hoyt (X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes) and Susan Gordon (The Five Pennies).

 

 

The Film:

Attack of the Puppet People is one of the few "mad scientist" opuses of the 1950s to be motivated by loneliness rather than megalomania. John Hoyt plays Franz, a seedy European doll-maker who harbors a crush on his secretary Sally (June Kenney). When Sally makes plans to marry Franz' top employee Bob (John Agar), strange things begin to happen. Before long, both Bob and Sally have been shrunken to doll-size by Franz, who keeps a retinue of living "puppet people" to avoid being left alone. Eventually, the little ones rebel against their addlepated but basically harmless keeper, though there's never any "attack" per se. Most of the acting is amateurish, with the exception of the always reliable John Hoyt; the special effects are somewhat better, but still nothing to write home about.

Excerpt from B+N located HERE

Among science fiction film aficionados the films of Bert I. Gordon are often treated with derision or as a major guilty pleasure when compared to his more renowned contemporaries such as producer George Pal (The Time Machine, 1960) or director Jack Arnold (The Incredible Shrinking Man, 1957). Yet, despite the often erratic quality of his fantasy features, Gordon is a true auteur who often serves as the producer, director, screenwriter, and special effects technician on most of his features. That can sometimes be a liability in his case but it is also why movies such as The Amazing Colossal Man (1957) and Village of the Giants (1965) have such a wacky, endearing appeal. In Gordon's world, size really does matter and the majority of his sci-fi movies are obsessed with proportion and rear-screen projection. Easily the nuttiest of his early concoctions is Attack of the Puppet People (1958) which attempts to blend two genres science fiction and the youth exploitation film, though the film's protagonists are well past their teenage years.

Excerpt from TCM located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Attack of the Puppet People on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory is advertised as a "NEW 2K Scan Of The Interpositive". It's single-layered but has a high bitrate.  The image quality isn't particularly dynamic and looks soft - possibly digitized and a bit waxy. It's in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio and looks consistent with a few speckles but not much grain texture. The cinematography framing is sometime awkward. The presentation is still watchable and, surely, a notch above SD. Fans of the genre probably won't be overly displeased with the image quality.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

A standard lossless DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel stereo track at 1841 kbps (24-bit) supports the modest effects and score by Albert Glasser (Abilene Town, The Spider, I Shot Jesse James, Behind Locked Doors) including You're My Living Doll sung by Marlene Willis. Pretty basic and not much depth required. There are optional English subtitles on the region 'A' Blu-ray disc.

 

Extras :

Shout! Factory include a new audio commentary with film historian Tom Weaver (author of Universal Terrors 1951-1955: Eight Classic Horror and Science Fiction Films) and it's extremely detailed and fun often reflecting on the original script differences. He exports tid-bits like the secretary in the first scene being Jean Moorehead - Playmate of the Month for October 1955. I thought it was excellent detailing other Bert I. Gordon films and the performers. There is also a trailer and image gallery (posters, title cards, glossies).

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Attack of the Puppet People is one of the more cheesy variety of this delightfully inventive genre. Those who love these modest-budgeted 50's and 60's sci-fi features can be very forgiving in terms of effects or competent narratives. This is weak but far from terrible. It's a decent concept and might have benefitted from subsequent sequels.  The Shout! Factory Blu-ray produces a reasonable widescreen presentation - but the commentary has the coercive value for a purchase indulgence. Meh. Probably a shade overpriced at present.  

Gary Tooze

November 20th, 2017

 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

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60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
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Gary W. Tooze

 

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