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Attack of the Puppet People (1958) - Bu-ray Review

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Attack of the Puppet People (1958) - Blu-ray

3 beersThere’s something really wrong with Mr. Franz (John Hoyt, When Worlds Collide).  He talks to the dolls in his office as if they were real people.  He even dresses them in all the latest fashions.  And what’s with the secret laboratory with the NO ADMITTANCE sign painted on it?  The mysteries are unending surrounding this gentle-seeming soul. 

But his new hire, Sally Reynolds (June Kenny), is on the case and, thanks to her knack for being at the right place at all the wrong times; she’s one secretary that is not to be messed with.  Even if that means she has to give in to her bizarre suspicions about her new boss.  Could he really be the mad scientist responsible for all the missing people in the building?

Attack of the Puppet People, produced and directed and written by Bert I. Gordon (The Amazing Colossal Man, Village of the Giants), is technically a horror film.  Because it doubles as a black-and-white science fiction flick from the atomic age of filmmaking, the film carries a heavy load, yet successfully traverses back and forth between the two genres.  Thanks to Scream Factory’s 1080p transfer, the film arrives on blu-ray with a clean image and a fantastic looking 2K scan.

Originally released by American International Pictures in an effort to capitalize upon the success of The Incredible Shrinking Man, this drive-in flick perfectly captures its own essence by featuring a date between Sally and Bob Westley (John Agar, Nightbreed) as they make-out at the drive-in while watching The Amazing Colossal Man.  The idea of turning men and women into dolls is a far-fetched one, but that doesn’t stop Sally from going to the police with her list of missing people and their reappearance as dolls trapped behind glass bottles.

Mr. Franz is a conniving old man; he’s psychotic and literally burns the doll he made from Sally’s boyfriend right in front of her.  It is punishment for her running to the cops.  And it is only the beginning of his darkly demented turn into the mad scientist he is at the core of his ice-cold heart.

While fairly static in its execution and full of some of the typical 1950s dramatic zooming, Attack of the Puppet People absolutely shines when Sally awakes next to a gigantic telephone, after being shrunk by Mr. Franz.  We then get an onslaught of special effects, featuring large dogs chomping at the bit to get ahold of these tiny people and their snack-sized meaty offering.  With teases of ample female skin thanks to Sally’s napkin-wearing turn at being a doll, the film is a future shock film phenom as giant hands point down at the living dolls, lecturing to them like a parent disciplining its offspring.

Due to its own use of human shrinkage, the special effects for this cult flick are pretty impressive.  Miniatures are everywhere, but they absolutely work in creating a mood made maddening for two unwilling subjects who would rather die than be part of his puppet show.  We even get an explanation from the mad doctor himself, complete with living insistences of why he does what he does.  The film doesn’t always work to maintain an expressive mood, but that doesn’t make it any less memorable.

With the pop song, “You’re my Living Doll” as its guide, Attack of the Puppet People is no small affair.

Attack of the Puppet People (1958) - Blu-ray

MPAA Rating: Unrated.
Runtime:
79 mins
Director
: Bert I. Gordon
Writer:
George Worthing Yates
Cast:
John Agar, John Hoyt, June Kenney
Genre
: Horror
Tagline:
Doll dwarfs versus the crushing giant beats!
Memorable Movie Quote: "Oh that. What's it look like to you?"
Theatrical Distributor:
American International Pictures (AIP)
Official Site:
Release Date:
April, 1958
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
November 14, 2017
Synopsis: 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!

Attack of the Puppet People (1958) - Blu-ray

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Shout Factory
Available on Blu-ray
- November 14, 2017
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English
Color:
Black/white
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

With an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and an English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono mix, the film absolutely blossoms .  Using a “fine grain print”, the 1080p transfer of this second-billed B-movie looks amazing in the textures it now presents to film buffs.  The local landscapes used in the movie are preserved with fine lines and the glass paintings – suggesting a depth to the film that was not financially possible – are items of beauty.  There is a new crispness throughout the black-and-white film thanks to the HD upgrade and the lab itself looks impossibly detailed.  And the 1.66:1 image from Scream Factory preserves the film’s intended look.  The DTS HD 2.0 Master Audio track is fairly strong, delivering the dialogue and dramatic score with nice clarity.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  •  Film historian and author Tom Weaver provides the film’s only supplemental item.

Special Features:

  • A Still Gallery of production photos is included.
  • Still Gallery

Attack of the Puppet People (1958) - Blu-ray

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