Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Comet TV September Giveaway

Are you ready for a Spacey-week?
I hope so, because COMET TV has so many cool things in September! COMET TV is the new home of the cult classic Space: 1999! The out of this world series starring Martin Landau is a fun retro adventure, you’ll love!
Plus, there are Godzilla Double Features, Dr. Who and more! 

 
Plus, we can’t forget the action network CHARGE! There is a Rocky marathon featuring the classic film series all month long!
CHARGE! is an action network showing the most “kickin’” and “punchin’” films ever created.
And we want to give you the opportunity to have an awesome September of your own! The COMET TV and CHARGE! September Prize Pack is perfect for binging some classic films and TV Shows!
The Comet TV and Charge! September Pack has:
1 - Limited Edition Space: 1999 COMET TV T-shirt: Exclusive to this month, we’ve created an exclusive shirt celebrating the retro goodness of this classic series!
1 - Rocky Exclusive Charge! Clamshell Box: While there may not be a VHS tape inside, this pack has some of the classic Rocky artwork. Yo Adrian!
1- Rocky Viewing Kit: When you’re working up a sweat in the gym and feeling the Eye of the Tiger, this kit will help you get into the Rocky mood. There is a Charge jump-rope, a gym towel and a die-cut Rocky sticker! 
1- Godzilla Funko Pop Figure: Who doesn’t love Funko Pops?!? This Godzilla will be the fire breathing center of your collection and a perfect way to celebrate the Godzilla double features, Sundays on COMET TV!

TO ENTER 
EMAIL CELLULOIDTERROR@YAHOO.COM WITH "September Comet Giveaway" AS THE SUBJECT AND TELL ME YOUR FAVORITE CLASSIC SCI-FI SERIES AND YOUR FAVORITE ROCKY MOVIE.
PLEASE INCLUDE YOUR ADDRESS. US ENTRANTS ONLY. 
CONTEST OPEN UNTIL SEPTEMBER 24
Airing on COMET in September
YOU DON’T NEED A SUBSCRIPTION TO WATCH THESE GREAT MOVIES…
THEY’RE AIRING FOR FREE ON COMET!
Space: 1999 (series)
Space: 1999 officially crash landed on COMET! The residents of Moonbase Alpha were just minding their own business when the nuclear waste stored there suddenly exploded, causing the moon to hurtle into space. After passing through a black hole and a couple random “Space Warps,” you begin to wonder, is there a mysterious force guiding them?
In September, look out for back-to-back episodes on Saturday and Sunday evenings starting at 10/9 C. 
Godzilla DOUBLE FEATURES 
Godzilla wanted to move to Saturdays. We said OK! Through September, catch the mega monster films that rocked the planet and featured Godzilla going head to head with his infamous foes. Destruction begins Saturday, September 8 with Rebirth of Mothra and Rebrith of Mothra II. 
Catch Godzilla Double Features on Saturday, Sept 8 starting at 2/1 C.
Saturday, Sept 15, 22 and 29th starting at 1/NOON C.
9/8 starting at 2/1 C
Rebirth of Mothra (1996)
Rebirth of Mothra II (1997)
9/15 starting at 1/NOON C
Godzilla VS. SpaceGodzilla (1994)
Godzilla VS. Megaguirus: The G Annihilation Strategy (2003)
9/22 starting at 1/NOON C
Godzilla VS. King Ghidorah (1991)
Godzilla VS. Destoroyah (1995)
9/29 starting at 1/NOON C
Godzilla VS. Mothra (1992)
Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-out Attack (2001)
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Q (1982)
Aztec Gods? Female Lizards? And a takeover of New York’s famed Chrysler Building? What’s a New Yorker to do? Rely on a criminal who has dreams of being a jazz pianist to find the creature’s lair and blackmail the city for directions! What, those aren’t on the subway map?
Friday, Sept 7 at 8/7 C
Sunday, Sept 9 at 8/7 C
Wednesday, Sept 12 at 4/3 C
Dr. Who and the Daleks (1965)
Dr. Who heads to the big screen and in color! After accidentally being transported to another planet Dr. Who and his friends come across a vial of drugs and head to a nearby city to investigate and find missing components of their Tardis. Say no to drugs kids! They come across the Daleks who take the components all while the good Doctor and his group suffer from radiation sickness! What can cure them? The mystery drugs they found… But an evil Dalek plot threatens the group and everyone who opposes the evil cyborgs! 
Sunday, Sept 9 at Noon/11 C
Wednesday, Sept 12 at 10/9A C
Monday, Sept 17 at 8/7 C
Dr. Who: Daleks Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. (1966)
Peter Cushing stars in the role of Dr. Who and he discovers, after traveling to the future, that the Daleks have taken over the Earth! A band of resistance fighters are trying to stop the attack but everyone is brainwashed!
Sunday, Sept 9 at 2/1 C
Wednesday, Sept 12 at Noon/11 C
Tuesday, Sept 18 at 8/7 C
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Airing on CHARGE! in September
Rocky DOUBLE FEATURES
Yo Adrian! Catch up on Rocky I-V all month in September on CHARGE! There’s a double dose of boxing goodness every Thursday. Watch the blood, sweat and tears as Rocky battle foe after foe and continually forges on against all odds! He clearly has the Eye of the Tiger! Get pumped and watch the first five films in the Rocky saga and relive all the action, guts and glory!

CHARGE! Is proud to feature Rocky I-V in September, starting with a Labor Day marathon on Monday 9/3 starting at 10/9A C. 
Then catch a Rocky Double Feature every Thursday after that starting at 2/1 C and 8/7 C.

Friday, August 31, 2018

BOSS NIGGER Blu-ray Review


USA/1975
Directed By: Jack Arnold
Written By: Fred Williamson
Starring: Fred Williamson, D'Urville Martin, William Smith
Color/93 Minutes/PG
Region A
Release Date: August 14, 2018
Blu-ray/DVD

The Film
Two bounty hunters named Boss (Fred Williamson) and Amos (D'Urville Martin) save a woman named Clara Mae while she's being attacked by bandits and find a letter naming him sheriff of a nearby town. The mayor of the town has little control and answers to a gang leader named Jed Clayton (William Smith) out of fear. Despite Boss and Amos wanting to clean up the town and get their reward for bringing Jed Clayton to justice the mayor and most of the townspeople want no part of two black men running the law. BOSS NIGGER is a story of race and revenge.


This was the third film in a series of black westerns starring Fred Williamson. It was preceded by The Legend Of Nigger Charley and The Soul Of Nigger Charley but follows its own story as opposed to being a sequel to those films. BOSS NIGGER is the most polished film of the bunch and Fred Williamson is definitely more comfortable in front of the camera than he was in the earlier films having really honed in his performance and personality. Veteran director Jack Arnold makes a slick and at times stylish production, using the dusty wooden exteriors and dark, gaudy interiors to his advantage. Arnold is best known for directing some of the best science fiction and horror films of the 1950s including the timeless The Creature From The Black Lagoon but was no stranger to the western genre having directed episodes across various western TV series and a few feature films as well. The style and tone on display in BOSS NIGGER is much different from anything that Arnold made in the 50s as the western reinvented itself after the spaghetti western craze and became a much dirtier and more violent affair. Add in that this was a blaxploitation film featuring two black stars battling a white town who doesn't appreciate their services coming from a script written by one of the stars and Jack Arnold could very easily have been lost with how to handle it.


Thankfully he was not. He handled Fred Williamson's script well and that script was a solid one. While playing to most of the tropes of spaghetti westerns Williamson was able to craft a script that deals with racial tensions and race relations of the 1970s but didn't make the film feel forced around it even if it is the main theme of the film. After all the film's tagline so brazenly and proudly exclaims "White man's town, black man's law!". And the black men make it their law, even adding in dashes of humor at times particularly with D'Urville Martin who excelled at making me chuckle as he happily arrests the more uppity white folks in town for anything from saying the N-word to him or simply not returning a good morning gesture. All that Boss and Amos were asking for was some respect but it never came. Things only get worse until Jed Clayton really steps in to the picture. William Smith was no stranger to playing a white antagonist in blaxploitation films and turns in another good role here, especially his final showdown with Boss which is not only emotional but also powerful in its message and stylish in its execution by Jack Arnold. "That was for Poncho, that was for Clara Mae, and this is for me!". Just thinking of it gets me riled up.


That final showdown would not be where the credits rolled and the film ends somewhat ambiguously but with a clear message. BOSS NIGGER does have a political and social voice as many blaxploitation films did but it's also simply a well made western with some good performances and characters and moments that will stick with you. And to top if off it is has a great theme song.

What more could you ask for?

The Audio & Video
Kit Parker Films releases BOSS NIGGER through MVD in the film's first HD presentation on home video. The Blu-ray features a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that isn't perfect but looks good overall. Colors are strong and lifelike but color timing fluctuates a bit between the warm natural look to that with a very light green hue. It's very minor but it is there. The image is generally sharp enough but softness intermittently pops up. The transfer has just a bit of speckling on an otherwise clean image. Black levels leave a bit to be desired but detail is rather good throughout.

The Audio comes across in a crisp and well mixed LPCM 2.0 track that sounds great. I didn't notice any distortions or damage to the track and the dialogue and funky western inspired soundtrack compliment each other nicely.


The Extras
-"A Conversation With Fred Williamson" - An archival interview conducted by Joel Blumberg clocking in at nearly a half hour
-Jack Arnold Tribute by Myrl Schreibman
-"A Boss Memory" - Interview with producer Myrl Schreibman
-Original trailer


The Bottom Line
Blaxploitation films and revisionist westerns are still under represented on Blu-ray so it is great to get a solid HD presentation of BOSS NIGGER. Expand your horizons a bit and give this one a look because it's a very good blaxploitation western mashup.

BOSS NIGGER is available HERE

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Comet TV and Charge! TV September Viewing Guide



September is shaping up to be a big month for Comet TV and the Charge network with Godzilla double features, Dr. Who airings and now Comet TV is the home of the cult classic TV series Space: 1999!




Over on Charge there will be a month long celebration of the Rocky franchise including marathons of every film! Yo Adrian, Charge did it!


Download the full Comet and Charge viewing guide HERE

Beyond Fest: Cronenberg With Cronenberg!

BEYOND FEST ANNOUNCES ‘CRONENBERG WITH CRONENBERG: A RETROSPECTIVE OF THE NEW FLESH’ WITH LEGENDARY AUTEUR, DAVID CRONENBERG, IN ATTENDANCE   
 
Career-spanning, 13-film retrospective includes event screenings including guests Debbie Harry, Geena Davis, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Howard Shore.
 
LOS ANGELES, (August 28, 2018) - Beyond Fest, the highest-attended genre film festival in the U.S., is excited to announce Cronenberg with Cronenberg: A Retrospective of the New Flesh- an exhaustive,13-film celebration of the legendary autuer’s career. Returning to Los Angeles for the first time in a decade, David Cronenberg will be in attendance for three, special event screenings at the legendary Egyptian Theatre where he will be joined by actors, collaborators, and guest moderators.

Co-presented by Telefilm Canada, the American Cinematheque’s partner for the annual Canada Now film festival, and with the support of the Consulate General of CanadaCronenberg on Cronenberg opens on Saturday, September 29th with The Shaping of Rage, an all-day marathon of David Cronenberg’s early films, SHIVERS, RABID, THE BROOD, and SCANNERS, presented sequentially and on 35mm. That evening, Cronenberg will be joined by long-time collaborator Howard Shore for a 30thanniversary screening of DEAD RINGERS with director Mick Garris moderating a post screening Q&A.

A spotlight shines on giant bugs on Sunday, September 30thwith a double bill of THE FLY and NAKED LUNCH where Cronenberg will be joined with THE FLY’s Geena Davis and the composer of both films, Howard Shore.

Cronenberg’s groundbreaking approach to the distorted world of virtual reality is exaimined on Monday, October 1stwith a double bill of VIDEODROME and EXISTENZ. Cronenberg will be joined in person by composer Howard Shore and his two lead actresses, Debbie Harry and Jennifer Jason Leigh. Director Leigh Whannell will moderate the Q&A between films.

“David Cronenberg has been a visionary master of the art of cinema for over four decades,” said Beyond Fest Co-Founder, Christian Parkes. “Screening these iconic films here in L.A. with his collaborators and partners is an absolute dream. Unless Kubrick is in hiding, we will probably quit after this.”

In addition to the screening events at the Egyptian Theatre, there are two double bills at the Aero Theatre: A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE & EASTERN PROMISES and CRASH & SPIDER. All 13 films screened during Cronenberg with Cronenberg: A Retrospective of the New Fleshwill be on 35mm film. 

To commemorate Cronenberg’s presence at Beyond Fest, renowned artist Alan Hynes has created an exclusive print and industry-leading collectibles brand, Mondo, have created a series of Cronenberg-related products that will be exclusively available at the festival.

Tickets for Cronenberg with Cronenberg: A Retrospective of the New Fleshwill be made available for purchase through Fandango and the American Cinematheque at 10 a.m., Saturday, September  1st.

Theremaining slate for Beyond Fest 2018 will be announced shortly.
 
CRONENBERG WITH CRONENBERG: A RETROSPECTIVE OF THE NEW FLESH PROGRAM
 
EGYPTIAN THEATRE

SHIVERS
Director: David Cronenberg
Country: Canada
Runtime: 87 min.
Year: 1976
 
RABID
Director: David Cronenberg
Country: Canada / USA
Runtime: 91 min.
Year: 1977
 
THE BROOD
Director: David Cronenberg
Country: Canada 
Runtime: 92 min.
Year: 1979
 
SCANNERS
Director: David Cronenberg
Country: Canada 
Runtime: 103 min.
Year: 1981
 
DEAD RINGERS
Director: David Cronenberg
Country: USA
Runtime: 102 min.
Year: 2017
GUESTS: David Cronenberg, Howard Shore

THE FLY
Director: David Cronenberg
Country: USA / UK / Canada
Runtime: 96 min.
Year: 1986 
GUESTS: David Cronenberg, Howard Shore, Geena Davis 
 
NAKED LUNCH
Director: David Cronenberg
Country: Canad / UK / Japan
Runtime: 115 min.
Year: 1991
GUESTS: David Cronenberg, Howard Shore, (Geena Davis)
 
VIDEODROME
Director: David Cronenberg
Country: Canada
Runtime: 87 min.
Year: 1983
GUESTS: David Cronenberg, Howard Shore, Debie Harry (Jennifer Jason Leigh)
 
EXISTENZ
Director: David Cronenberg
Country: Canada / UK / France
Runtime: 97 min.
Year: 1999
GUESTS: David Cronenberg, Howard Shore, Jennifer Jason Leigh (Debbie Harry) 
 
AERO THEATRE

A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE
Director: David Cronenberg
Country: USA / Germany / Canada
Runtime: 96 min.
Year: 2005

EASTERN PROMISES
Director: David Cronenberg
Country: UK / Canada / USA
Runtime: 101 min.
Year: 2007

SPIDER
Director: David Cronenberg
Country: Canada / UK / France
Runtime: 98 min.
Year: 2002

CRASH
Director: David Cronenberg
Country: Canada / UK
Runtime: 100 min.
Year: 1996

Monday, August 27, 2018

STRAIGHT TO HELL - Blu-ray Review (Kino Studio Classics



UK/1987
Directed By: Alex Cox
Written By: Dick Rude, Alex Cox
Starring: Sy Richardson, Joe Strummer, Dick Rude
Color/91 Minutes/R
Region A
Release Date: August 28, 2018

The Film
What do you get when you combine the comedic anarchy of Mel Brooks with a "don't give a fuck what you think" punk rock attitude and roll it up in to a spaghetti western spoof that someone like Quentin Tarantino would worship? You get something along the lines of Alex Cox's STRAIGHT TO HELL.

Four bumbling criminals blow their job by being hungover and letting their target check out of his hotel before they could get to him so to make it up to their boss they rob a bank and barely escape. Their car breaks down in the Mexican desert so they bury the cash and hideout in what they thought was a deserted town. It's not ghosts they have to worry about here but maybe the undead would be better than dealing with a lot of kill-happy, cowboys that have been exposed to too much sun and are all hopped up on coffee.

Alex Cox is a well known cult filmmaker having made films such as Repo Man and Sid And Nancy which have amassed huge followings and have even found themselves among the ranks of the Criterion Collection. He's also a huge fan of the spaghetti western genre, he's provided commentary tracks to various films and even written a book on the subject. He has proven himself a very versatile filmmaker that can make great films in many styles and tones so it is no surprise that he wanted to make a spoof of the spaghetti western genre in a more contemporary setting. It's also made up of quite a cast of characters, largely filled with various musicians such as Joe Strummer of The Clash, Elvis Costello, The Pogues and Courtney Love as the female lead. This cast of non-actors add a bit to the chaos of the movie as you can only wrangle their performances so much. Even the more trained and traditional actors give wild performances but with a bit more polish to them.

STRAIGHT TO HELL is hilarious with the comedy coming from all angles and starting from the very beginning and never letting up. The cast that Cox uses definitely plays a big role in the vibe and attitude of the film. The overall story is a pretty typical western with the hunt for a hidden fortune, double crossing, a tough female love interest but it's all contorted into a zany and wacky affair. It also features some splattery violence that catches you off guard at first but quickly blends in to the madness. Story takes a bit of a backseat at times with a few stretches of film that went so far into left field that it lost me for a bit and that was okay because I was having enough fun that just spending time in this wackjob of a town was enough for me.

It may not be the most accessible film ever produced as it really does scream "cult" in every aspect of its production and not everyone is cut out to watch these types of movies. Whether it is the punk rock cast, the over the top violence, a pregnant and shrieking Courtney Love or just how bizarre the entire affair is, it definitely has a limited audience. One person that definitely enjoyed it was Quentin Tarantino as it is immediately evident how it influenced him on his early work, especially Pulp Fiction. Maybe STRAIGHT TO HELL is a bit too self indulgent and maybe Alex Cox gave too few fucks to make a traditionally good film and the bad reviews it received upon its release reflect that but for as much as I think Alex Cox was seriously loving every second of making this film I appreciate how bonkers it is and I had a lot of fun watching it.

The Audio & Video
STRAIGHT TO HELL arrives on Blu-ray with a new 2K restoration from Kino's Studio Classics line with great success. The anamorphic widescreen 2.35:1 transfer has great picture quality and is sharp and clear, with no dirt, scratches or other debris. The desert setting is hot and sweaty and the fine details of the dirt, sand and broken down town textures are on point. Colors are vibrant with deep black levels and no signs of pixelation or blocking issues. the audio comes across in a DTS-HD Master Audio mix that sounds crystal clear. There's plenty of shoot outs and explosions to give your sound system some content to show off with while dialogue and music compliment each other nicely.

The Extras
-Audio commentary with co-writer/director Alex cox and co-writer/star Dick Rude
-"Back To Hell" - Making-of documentary
-"Black Hills" - A vintage tour of filming locations
-"Straight To Hell Returns" trailer

The Bottom Line
STRAIGHT TO HELL isn't the smoothest ride in town but that's what makes it memorable and gives it a distinct personality. This movie is wild and I dig it. Recommended!

STRAIGHT TO HELL is available HERE

Friday, August 24, 2018

DEEP RISING 20th Anniversary Blu-ray Review (Kino Studio Classics)


USA/1998
Directed By: Stephen Sommers
Written By: Stephen Sommers
Starring: Treat Williams, Famke Janssen, Anthony Head
Color/106 Minutes/R
Region A
Release Date: August 21, 2018

The Film
A group of hijackers target the most luxurious cruise ship ever built on its maiden voyage but find that all of the passengers have vanished. They're not alone however and they quickly find a terrifying creature from the ocean depths is on board and is more deadly than anything they could have imagined.

DEEP RISING was another movie in a line of mid to late 90s creature feature revivals that featured everything from killer snakes and insects to mythic gods and sharks. The setting could be anywhere from land to sea and even sky but the monster movie returned during that time thanks in part to CGI becoming an increasingly common special effects tactic that saved time and money over practical effects. There were pros and cons to using computer effects that still stand to this day but the return of these types of monster movies that are reminiscent of the monster movies that were staples of drive-ins during the 1950s was welcomed as far as I'm concerned. Stephen Sommers has been responsible for some huge productions that were massive box office smashes like the Brendan Fraser Mummy movies and the more recent under the radar cult hit Odd Thomas that starred the late Anton Yelchin. DEEP RISING had a decent box office return despite being largely panned by critics as a cheap Alien knockoff. And it might be an Alien knockoff but it had effects that were top notch for its time and was quite a sharp looking film. More importantly it was a lot of fun.

Sure, if you want to dig in to DEEP RISING on an analytical level you can pick it apart. You can note that Treat Williams is far more of a supporting player than a dashing, charismatic leading man. You can look at the group of hijackers and play "Bad Guy Bingo" with their stereotypes and you can pick apart the lapse in logic in how the giant sea creature manages to be everywhere on the boat at any given time. You can do all that but then you'd be showing yourself to be the uptight party pooper that you really are. DEEP RISING asks you to do one thing; enjoy. Enjoy the shootouts that tear entire rooms on the cruise ship to shreds at the slightest hint of a sound. Enjoy Famke Janssen looking smoking hot. Enjoy that this movie puts the pedal to the metal and never lets up or slows down. Enjoy the tentacle monster and enjoy how it turns its victims into a gloppy mess of blood and guts.

Oh that feeding room scene!

There was one question I had before watching DEEP RISING for this review - Would it hold up? It has been two full decades since its release and I wondered if it would hold up to modern eyes and scrutiny. Despite effects that are aging poorly and some questionable casting choices I found DEEP RISING to be a proper example of the 90s creature feature revival for better and for worse. Thankfully DEEP RISING knows what it is and succeeds at staying true to its identity. It's loud and proud and quite a bit of monster madness fun.

The Audio & Video
Kino Lorber has released DEEP RISING under its Studio Classics banner with a new 4K scan and restoration that blows any previous home video release of the film out of the water. Colors are strong and dark levels are deep. Detail is good, but finer details could be a bit more realized. The gore remains a strong visual point for the film which should delight viewers as it is properly gooey and gross. Skin tones look healthy as well. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix sounds properly powerful  with all sorts of screaming, gun blasts and various other knocks, crashes and booms to give your system a workout. The dialogue comes through crisp and clear despite the boisterous sound effects showing off how well the mix job on this Blu-ray is.

The Extras
-Audio Commentary by director Stephen Sommers and editor Bob Ducsay
-Interviews with stars Wes Studi, Kevin O'Connor, and Anthony Heald
-Interview with second unit director Dean Cundey
-Interview with visual effects artist John Berton of ILM
-Interview visual effects artist Van Ling
-Interview with special effects make up artist Brad Proctor
-Interview with special effects make up artist Doug Marrow
-Interview with director of photography Howard Atherton
-ILM behind-the-scenes
-Image gallery

The Bottom Line
Nineties creature features have been unfairly maligned over the years because of their dated effects work but some of them hold up as entertaining and exciting horror thrillers and DEEP RISING is certainly one of them and Kino has given us what I consider to be a definitive edition to celebrate the film's 20th anniversary.

DEEP RISING is available HERE

Friday, August 17, 2018

PUPPET MASTER: THE LITTLEST REICH (2018)


USA/2018
Directed By: Sonny Laguna, Tommy Wiklund
Written By: S. Craig Zahler
Starring: Thomas Lennon, Jenny Pellicer, Nelson Franklin
On VOD and Digital HD August 17

In a small Texas town in 1989 a German puppet maker is killed by police after his puppets commit a pair of murders. The puppet maker was Andre Toulon (Udo Kier), a Nazi who left Germany for America shortly after the end of World War II. Toulon used all forms of science and the occult to engineer his puppets to be deadly killing machines with a psychic link to do him to do his bidding. Now thirty years after his death a convention is being held in the town he died in and collectors from all over have come to buy and sell the puppets of Andre Toulon ignorant to the danger their valuable possessions pose.

Edgar (Thomas Lennon) along with his new girlfriend Ashley (Jenny Pellicer) and boss and best friend Markowitz (Nelson Franklin) attend the Andre Toulon convention to sell his deceased brother's old Andre Toulon puppet but after returning to his hotel room he finds the puppet missing. When the police arrive to investigate they find that many other guests' puppets have also gone missing and that missing puppets is the least of their concern as many guests have been brutally murdered. The puppets have returned to life and with their implements of death they are carrying out the wishes of their Nazi creator.

PUPPET MASTER: THE LITTLEST REICH follows in the footsteps of Full Moon Features' flagship franchise that began in 1989 with creator and director's Charles Band's horror film concerning an old hotel full of psychics who are investigating the death of a colleague who discovered murderous World War II era puppets. The film spawned ten sequels many of which retaining the WWII setting or theme and were video store era staples. Fans fell in love with Blade, Torch, Pinhead and all of Andre Toulon's other creations that split their time between being villains and antiheroes but there's no mistake that Andre Toulon and his puppets have never been nastier than they are in THE LITTLEST REICH. This reboot from writer S. Craig Zahler (Bone Tomahawk) and directors Sonny Laguna and Tommy Wiklund who previously directed the Swedish horror film Wither together gives a fresh start to the series but honors its Full Moon roots and history.

I have a love/hate relationship with the franchise. I think the first three films are pretty great and the fourth and fifth entries take a more supernatural turn and are entertaining. Then the bottom fall out and the quality of the films takes a steep decline eventually turning in to nothing but a clip show before returning to its WWII roots with some rather poor and obviously low budget affairs in the "Axis Trilogy". The series was long overdue for a fresh voice and I put faith in S. Craig Zahler immediate upon hearing of his involvement. He has become a name to watch after his western horror film Bone Tomahawk and his ultra violent prison thriller Brawl In Cell Block 99 both of which have been well received by genre film critics and fans alike. Add in the duo of Laguna and Wiklund helming the film and you have a team that has recent horror success under their belt to try and breathe new life to a franchise that has been drowning for several entries.

And that they did. PUPPET MASTER: THE LITTLEST REICH is the Puppet Master film fans have been waiting for over 20 years. The story is mean spirited as the puppets target Jews, gypsies and homosexuals and kill anyone else that just plain gets in their way. This ethnic cleansing attempted by the puppets can be a bit uncomfortable at times but in the same way that a rape/revenge film is uncomfortable and eventually satisfying when the attacker(s) get their comeuppance. And they deserve everything they get and more. The puppets slice, burn, decapitate and disembowel their victims with blood, limbs and innards flying everywhere. This is easily the goriest Puppet Master film to date, and it isn't even close. The extreme violence is presented in a way that lightens the tone of the film so that it is easily digestible. Plus any movie with Udo Kier and Barbara Crampton gets a little bonus.

I felt like a kid again getting excited over a decapitated head falling into a toilet and a pile of guts falling out of a sliced stomach. The special effects from Tate Steinsiek are not only plentiful but well done as well. Something that plagued the Puppet Master franchise as the series went on was the puppeteering and the look and movement of the puppets. At their worst it looked as if they were dolls being held and shaken around by a hand just off screen until they jumped toward a victim and I use the term "jump" very loosely. It was more of being randomly tossed in the direction of a victim. That was one fear I had that would carry over to this entry and in some instances the movement of the puppets isn't so hot but more often than not the puppets have really decent looking movement and animation which pleased the hell out of me. The music also pleased the hell out of me. Richard Band provided the score and theme for the original franchise and provides a theme here as well but the majority of the music was handled by Italian maestro and frequent Lucio Fulci collaborator Fabio Frizzi and his score adds a foreboding atmosphere that I'd never felt in a Puppet Master film before. Frizzi's work really is top notch and along with the ultra gory moments it was reminiscent of some of the classic Fulci moments.

PUPPET MASTER: THE LITTLEST REICH does have its flaws and setbacks. While I think the set up of the story is fine the writing has holes in it that are frustrating such as Andre Toulon's connection with the puppets and how he is manipulating them after his apparent death and why he has waited 30 years to bring them back to life. The film does end with a "to be continued" which could eventually lead to some insight and fill in some gaps but it was frustrating at times. The puppets themselves have several distinct styles and designs but each of those has different versions running around simply to create a higher number of puppets. This feels like a cop out to me but when I get to see Torch (or in this case Kaiser) totally melt the flesh from a few faces I'll let some things slide like minor continuity errors and some sporadically awkward editing.

PUPPET MASTER: THE LITTLEST REICH might be unnecessarily mean and could have easily left the Nazi theme out this time around but they made it work. The film's positives vastly outweigh the negatives and along with easily being the best entry in two decades it is also the most entertaining and I'm fully on board for another.