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DVD Review

DVD cover

Zaps the World - The Movie


Starring (voice): Jack Wild, Billie Hayes, Martha Raye and Mama Cass
Fabulous Films & Metrodome
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: U
Available 29 June 2009

Jimmy is the owner of a magic flute. After a particularly bad day at school he escapes to the lake where a talking boat, sent by the wicked Witchiepoo, kidnaps him. But help is at hand in the guise of H R Pufnstuf, a large talking dragon, who rescues the boy and takes him to the magical realm of the Living Island. But can Pufnstuf and friends protect Jimmy from the witch and return him to his own world...

Pufnstuf (1970 - 1 hr, 30 min, 18 sec) is a film based on the seventeen episode show which was created by Sid and Marty Krofft, and presented here as a two disc DVD set. If you have never seen the show then the film is likely to be a bit of a confusing experience, with its combination of camp vaudeville comedy, full sized cloth puppets and the kaleidoscopic colourful dazzle which is associated with either sixties television or indulging in the occasional illegal substance. Is it a coincidence that the main character is called puffin stuff? It wears its hippy aesthetic firmly on its sleeve.

The film's story is slight, at best, really only an excuse to indulge in song and dance routines in between the Keystone Kops level of physical comedy. The good guys are good and the witch is not wholly evil. That said, it is innocuous enough, and certainly colourful enough, to be enjoyed by young children or adults looking for a meander down reminiscence lane.

Being squarely aimed at young children, the cast isn’t exactly stretched. Jack Wild (the artful dodger in Oliver (1968)) reprises his role as Jimmy, the film attempts to connect more with its audience by showing Jimmy in the real world as a loner, something which changes with the unconditional affection that the inhabitants of the Living Island show him. The original shows were popular enough to attract some names to the film project including Mama Cass (Witch Hazel) and Martha Raye (Boss Witch), both camping it up for all they're worth.

The bonus disc contains Sid and Marty Krofft (22 min, 04 sec) which looks at the genesis of the show, Billy Hayes (10 min, 32 sec) talking about her early life and her experiences playing Witchiepoo and Jack Wild (11 min, 42 sec) recounting his experience of the show. There is a plethora of original publicity material including posters; lobby cards; colour and black and white stills and the original publicity brochure. The disc rounds off with the original synopsis, the cast list and production credits. Given the age of the film it’s a pretty impressive line-up, but there’s not so much material that it couldn’t have been included on disc one.

Although the film is aimed at the young, or at least the young at heart, it was a surprise that Fabulous Films & Metrodome had spent the money on restoring the 16:9 film, but then their previous releases have also show a certain care and reverence for their audiences cherished childhood shows. It looks great, with sharp colours; there is some grain evident but nothing which would spoil your enjoyment.


Charles Packer

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