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PUPHEDZ

Review by Ruth E. Ferguson

Puphedz Stars:  Woodrow J. Larchbottom, III, Douglas “Chip” Fir, Peter Feidwood, Leif Applebaum, Clayton Martinez as “Pjorn and The Cart Puller”
Director: Jurgen Heimann
Audio: 
English - Dolby Digital (5.1)
Video: Full Frame 1.33:1
Extras: Featurette, Mock Cast Bios, Photo Gallery, Trailer

Length: 34 minutes – Long Version & 27 minutes – Short Version
Release Date:  February 4, 2003

“I hope He is not too upset!”  - Speaking of God, whose role was edited out of the short version of the film.

Film ***

Elite Entertainment specializes in releasing horror films on DVD.  In February they are distributing what you might call a horror-comedy performed by puppets that is fairly original and pretty fun.  The Puphedz:  The Tattle-Tale Heart is a new twist on an Edgar Allen Poe classic.  The Puphedz are hoping to add new life to Poe’s stories and have found a creative way of capturing the imagination of the teen audience.

The Puphedz is a band of performers traveling via a hand pulled cart stopping in small towns to present their shows.  The story features a young man driven mad by the deformed eye of the old man he shares a house with, and they want it clearly understood they live together only to save money on rent.  Though he tries to avoid looking and the huge eye that continually rotates, the young man is constantly drawn back to it.  So, he decides to attempt to commit the perfect crime and of course mayhem ensues when the police show up.  The scenes with the police are very funny, with a bit of satire on racial stereotypes thrown in.

The puppets are cleverly designed, intricately carved wooded marionette puppets.  The show is created with various forms of special effects, including live action, stop motion animation and for the dream sequence, CG.  Jürgen Heimann is the producer, director, writer and puppeteer for this project, and his impressive resume includes work on Men in Black 1 & 2, How the Grinch Stole Christmas and The Nutty Professor (both of them). 

The filmmakers received help from such A-List special effects experts as Oscar winner Rick Baker, who has worked with Heimann on many of the same projects as well as 2001’s Planet of the Apes. The Tattle-Tale Heart was nominated and won several awards on the film festival circuit last fall including Best Animation at the Los Angeles Screamfest Horror Film Festival.

Video ***

When I plugged the disc in my first clue that this was not a fly by night production was the fact the look of the feature was top notch. The transfer is very good, not a stitch of unintended grain.  The menus are grainy but that is because they are going for an old newsreel type of effect.  Otherwise the colors were very sharp and everything about the look of the film enhances your enjoyment.

Audio ***

The Dolby 5.1 sounds fine.  Sound effects are a bit of a factor, but not a standout part of the short.

Features ***

Extra features include a making-of featurette (16:06), an animated slide show (: 57), mock Puphedz cast bios, the US trailer (1:52), European trailer (3:03), and a teaser trailer (: 39).  The featurette gives us a peek at how they handled some of the shots, which is rather interesting because it is a well-done production.  The other items are standard stuff.

Summary:

Although the Puphedz crew clearly have a very funny sense of humor it is also rather wicked and twisted.  Keep in mind this is not intended for little kids – too much puppet gory.  But for a mature crowd you will find The Tattle-Tale Heart at only $9.99, an entertaining and rather well done DVD.  Although this is not a film I would have picked up off the shelf, now that I’ve found the Puphedz team, I can’t wait for the next installment.