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on October 15, 2012
Deep Rising (1998)

Watched the Deep Rising Blu-ray recently and it is a LARGE improvement on the previous non-anamorphic DVD. The picture quality I'd rate 7/10, the close-ups had a lot of detail. The movie is filled with dated CGI but I'm always willing to put that aside given the year of production. However, you will be hard pressed to find a more aggressive 5.1 soundtrack mix filled with gunfire, monster sounds, ship and hardware sounds - real ear candy and delivered in DTS-MA HD. Recommended.

The Puppet Masters (1994)

The Puppet Masters which for some reason I've never seen before, loosely based on a Robert Heinlein story. Decent 'B' movie starring Donald Sutherland. Many of the outdoor shots seemed flat and dull while the interior shots were solid with more clarity, it had the look of a made-for-TV movie. Special effects were convincing enough to make for an entertaining popcorn flick. The DTS-HD MA 2.0 sound was pretty good although I had Denon set up to use the surround channels and matrixed to 5.1.

Both movies are on a single disc with the correct aspect ratios 2.35:1. If you're a fan it's worth the upgrade and a bargain.
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on October 17, 2012
If you have never seen these two relatively obscure movies, you have missed quite a treat. Both are outstanding. And now they are together on Blu-ray for a song. As science fiction goes, both are at the top of their game. Actors are great, acting is great, story is great, and the monsters are great. Don't bother looking at reviews and critiques. If you enjoy sci-fi movies, buy the disk and see for yourself. You will be glad you did.
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on November 23, 2015
I have to be honest, I bought this 2fer Blu-ray purely for DEEP RISING. I saw Puppet Masters on cable and while it was an okay variant of Invasion of The Body Snatchers, it didn't thrill me all that much. Thus, this review is for DEEP RISING only.

THE STORY: High tech mercenaries hire the services of a laconic sea captain who skippers a re-purposed PT boat, to deliver them & their deadly cargo to an isolated location some 800+ miles off the coast of southern China. Once there, the mercs plan to intercept & hijack an uber-luxury cruise ship, fleece its rich passengers and clean out the ship's safe. When they eventually arrive (after an unavoidable delay), everyone is shocked to discover the gigantic ship apparently empty, with no clues as to what happened ...except for several large pools of blood. And then it all hits the fan.

THOUGHTS: One of my very favorite guilty pleasure movies from recent years. Yes, it's cheesy. Yes, it's lame-brained. Yes, the F/X are terribly dated now. Guilty. Guilty & guilty. Even so, I just cannot get enough of this salty, snarky, sea monster disaster movie. The film has just enough of a tongue in cheek attitude to make it fun without slipping into self-parody. Treat Williams sets the tone and keeps things tense or light, as the situation demands. Sturdy Wes Studi makes for a very believable hardcore toy soldier, and he's got a gung-ho squad of stereotypical macho lunkheads to boss around & back him up, (including Jason Flemyng, Cliff Curtis, Clifton Powell, Djimon Hounsou and the late Trevor Goddard). Speaking of back-ups, Treat Williams, as PT captain John Finnegan, has scrappy 1st mate, Leila, (Una Damon), and a terrific Gilligan of his very own in Kevin O'Conner, as ship's mechanic & chief nitwit, Joey Pantucci. Rounding out the cast is a sexy, headstrong pre-XMEN Famke Janssen as Trillian St. James, a spunky thief forced to throw in with Finnegan and the ragtag commandos in the hopes of making it off the creepy creature-infested cruise ship in one piece.

The slimy sea serpent thingamajigs, courtesy of primo gross-out creature designer Rob (The Thing, 1982) Bottin, are really disgusting and cool. They are definitely NOT octopus mutants, as many reviewers have erroneously stated. The luxury ship owner Simon Canton (played delightfully by smarmy Anthony Heald) speculates that the creatures are an offshoot of the Archea Ottoia famliy. They more properly resemble mutant versions of bobbit worms (eunice aphroditois); see GIF of one feeding here:[...] Regardless of whether they are somewhat factual or entirely fictional, they are undoubtedly huge, slimy, sneaky & savage. Action is kept at a pretty relentless pace except for the middle third, which is somewhat draggy. It's redeemed by an over the top, hair-raising finale. And let's not forget that last shot that just begged for a sequel which, regrettably, never happened. *SIGH*

THE BLU-RAY: This double feature from Mill Creek has both films encoded onto one single-sided disc. Compression doesn't seem to be much of an issue though the bitrate isn't as high as many other high-def releases. Still, there wasn't much in the way of artifacting, pixelation or edge enhancement that I could detect to plague either movie, thankfully. Both films look quite nice and the sound for each is strong, even and appears properly balanced between dialogue & sound effects/music. No bonus features for either of the films, which is a shame. I'd love to have heard a commentary on DEEP RISING from writer/director Stephen Sommers. DR is the only movie he's ever done that I've actually enjoyed completely. Again, such a shame that RISING never got a sequel. If you love either of these films you'll get a decent bargain on this barebones but solid Blu-ray 2fer release. Buy it for your favorite movie and consider the other flick a "gimme" that you can take or leave. If you like both then this is the combo you've been dreaming of. I unashamedly love the silly slimy sea-going shenanigans of DEEP RISING and give that film alone a full 5 STARS.
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on December 30, 2012
Mill Creek's double-feature BD pairing of Stephen Sommers' 1998 creature feature DEEP RISING with the 1994 adaptation of Robert A. Heinlein's influential sci-fi novel THE PUPPET MASTERS is well worth a look for genre fans.

Admittedly, I've never thought much of "Deep Rising", a Hollywood Pictures production that cost a relatively pricey $45 million back in the late `90s and bombed upon its release in the dumping grounds of winter 1998. Sommers' profoundly stupid film finds wisecracking hero Treat Williams leading a team of mercenaries (including Wes Studi in a rare "non-ethnic" role) to a cruise ship that's been decimated by an aquatic creature that's risen from the depths. Sommers' penchant for mixing lighthearted characterizations with large-scale effects sequences doesn't really gel in "Deep Rising," mainly because of the cheap, threadbare production design that resembles an episode of "SeaQuest DSV." After an unmanageably talky first half hour, Sommers' film settles into an almost endless succession of characters being chased down tight corridors by a large squid-like creature - which, despite having been "designed" by Rob Bottin, is entirely animated. This being a 1998 release, the pedestrian CGI - which wasn't top of the line to begin with - really dates the film badly, as the cast (which also includes a sultry Famke Janssen and Sommers' horribly unfunny comic relief man, Kevin J. O'Connor) strains to look horrified by effects that are almost completely less than special.

Jerry Goldsmith's hard-working score has its moments, but it lacks the overall effectiveness of another, similarly themed genre film the composer scored nearly a decade prior: "Leviathan," which at least inspired Goldsmith to pen a terrific, melodic end titles piece. His "Deep Rising" score has as much energy, but little in the way of memorable thematic material.

Robert A. Heinlein's "The Puppet Masters" was one of the most influential sci-fi novels of all-time, having set the stage for countless imitators and rip-offs - both in print and on the big screen - for years to come. Unfortunately, by the time Hollywood Pictures produced the first-ever motion picture rendition of Heinlein's material decades after its publication, countless films had already covered similar terrain, particularly "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" and "Invaders From Mars" among others.

The resulting "Puppet Masters" movie - which, like "Deep Rising," was DOA in theaters upon its release in the fall of `94 - is a curiously watchable yet highly flawed film that's indifferently acted and occasionally quite funny on an unintentional level. The screenplay by Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio (who would later write all of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" films for Disney) and future Christopher Nolan collaborator David S. Goyer might have read better on paper, yet the film's execution is stilted and "off" - way, way off! Donald Sutherland stars as a "Men in Black"-type government agent investigating an extraterrestrial invasion that finds bat-shaped alien creatures binding themselves to the necks of human victims, thereby taking over their minds. Limp supporting work from Eric Thal and Julie Warner (completely unconvincing as a fellow investigator) is partially off-set by veteran character actors (Will Patton, Yaphet Kotto, Keith David and Richard Belzer) with a better grasp of what they're doing, but even Sutherland himself seems out of it in a role that's a far cry from his turn in Philip Kaufman's "Body Snatchers."

Director Stuart Orme - whose career is mostly comprised of British TV credits - brings an overly placid, almost PBS-like approach to material that ought to crackle with suspense and horror. Instead, the movie's stone-faced, serious demeanor ends up becoming a near parody of itself - something that's accentuated by Colin Towns' earnest but likewise portentous dramatic score, which tends to punctuate some of the movie's more unintentionally hilarious moments (the entire opening where Warner tries to prove that there's something wrong because men aren't checking her out is worth the price of admission by itself). Still, the movie is far from a total loss: between its infrequent moments of comedy and the old-school (very old) special effects of the aliens flying about, "The Puppet Masters" proves to be watchable, old-fashioned sci-fi played so earnestly that fans of Golden Age fare are likely to be entertained by it, provided they can get into the right mindset. It's no "Lifeforce" but, then again, what is?

Mill Creek's Blu-Ray offers 1080p transfers that prove to be adequate on "Deep Rising" (which never saw an anamorphic DVD release here stateside) and superior on "The Puppet Masters." Both films were shot in 2.35 and benefit from the widescreen presentation seen here, even if both masters look as if they may have been struck some time ago. The DTS MA 5.1 audio on "Deep Rising" is quite effective in places, certainly more so than the standard 2-channel DTS MA mix on "The Puppet Masters." A trailer for "Deep Rising," announcing a 1997 release date (the film was pushed back into a low-profile February `98 date), is the sole extra.
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on January 28, 2013
Both the movies are good. I hadn't seen "Robert A. Henlein's The Puppet Masters" before I bought this DVD, but I was already a big fan of "Deep Rising" because of the action/horror story and excepetionally good cast. The Puppet Masters has a decent cast with Donald Sutherland the most notable. The Puppet Masters plot is of an alien crash and people being taken over is a familiar one, but this one doesn't let you down. The Deep Rising plot is about a group of Mercs that have been hired by an unknown person to rob a Cruise ship out at sea. They hire a captain, played by Treat Williams, with a small fast torpedo style boat to get them out to the ship. Treat's crew includes a mechanic (Benny in The Mummy) and a co-pilot. Once they arrive they find that the chalenge isn't getting the money from any security force, it's staying out of the jaws of a creature. Of the two I enjoyed Deep Rising the most. I felt a better story, directing, and cast.

To me the directing by Stephen Sommers (The Mummy Trilogy [Blu-ray], Van Helsing [Blu-ray], Gi Joe: The Rise of Cobra [Blu-ray], et cetera) on Deep Rising is great and the well known cast alone in Deep Rising gave it a plus. The comedy thrown in on this action/horror is definitely icing on the cake. This Blu-ray version is pretty good. Only two slight complatints I have are technical to the DVD disc itself. On mine the disc icon shows up with the cover and title of the movie Van Gogh. But it does actually have the two advertised movies Deep Rising/ The Puppet Masters on the disc. My only other minor complaint is I had to open the player to get to the other movie after watching either one. It wouldn't let me just go back to the menu where you see both titles in the beginning unless I ejected the disc and reloaded it. Now considering the price, I'm not really complaining to much because the quality of the movies themselves is excellent and they both played without any problem. I highly recommend purchasing this DVD.

CA Luster
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on September 26, 2012
One of my favorite guilty pleasures,Deep Rising, finally comes to Blu-ray. Can't wait. It's a full tilt action ride. Purportedly about a Monstrous Squid rising from the deep, as usual, it's really about the characters populating the film. And what a cast we get in this one. As the captain of a small PT type ship, with a motto of, if the cash is there, we don't care, Treat Williams is fine in the hero (good guy?) role. The mercenary crew who have chartered the ship are led by Wes Studi, and a lovely crew they are. Painted in broad strokes as ultra-violent, ridiculously unredeemable bad boys. I particularly enjoyed Djimon Hounsou, he is always good, but if you haven't seen his performance in Blood Diamond, treat yourself. Their plan is to hijack and rob a luxury liner. But they find it dead in the water, without power, and seemingly empty. They do meet up with a few survivors. Among them the not so pure ship owner, Anthony Heald, and the lovely Famke Janssen, who's back and forth banter with Treat Williams is a workable chemistry. now let the blood and gore fly as Squidy takes the stage. Course the gore is done in the over the top style that renders it non-retch-able. Having to work together to get off the ship, they are of course going down one at a time. Some even get a poetic come-up-tance, Wes Studi's was fun. But with movies of this ilk, what can raise it beyond it's parts is a great side-kick, The Great Kevin J. O'Connor is at his scene stealing best in this one. I think he is given some of the best lines in the movie, and his delivery is always spot on. So if your looking for hi-brow entertainment, with a sensible plot, you didn't read this far, so no worries, But if your into all-out, non-stop mayhem, cartoonish characters, bullets, blood & gore, with dialog consisting mainly of one liners, this is for you. The Blu-ray of Deep Rising at $6.99 is worth it alone. Getting another movie (Puppet Masters) is like an extra prize in your Cracker Jacks.
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on December 8, 2012
I am a fan of Deep Rising from way back! It is just silly enough for it to be a fun romp and it is creepy enough to be taken seriously. The special effects are quite good and the Blu-ray version just makes everything clearer and more fun to watch.

I had never seen The Puppet Masters previously. It is a mixed bag. Some parts are exciting, but it kind of falls flat as the movie progresses. The script dialog is just plain stupid in parts. The creepiness comes more from the acting than special effects and even then it can be pretty dumb. They know a person has been taken over by an alien if the men don't stare at the lead actresses bust! The film came off as if it was done on a low budget and it really fives that feeling. An interesting note on this film is that two big elements reminded me of a couple of Jon Pertwee erta Doctor Who stories. The creatures hanging onto peoples backs and taking thenm over was very Planet of Siders and The Claws of Axos looks like it was taped when creating the hive that the aliens were building.

Both films look great on Blu-ray!
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on October 17, 2014
Being both a Famke Janssen fan and a Sci-Fi fan, I got hooked on "Deep Rising" back in the old VHS days, so when I saw this double-feature sale I just had to upgrade to Blu-ray. I haven't even watched "The Puppet Masters" yet, but it was a great Robert Heinlein book! Did I mention Famke Janssen?
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on December 6, 2012
I would encourage anyone to upgrade their older VHS or DVD movies to at least Bluray 2D quality (3D for those who have 3D grade TV’s) as the quality of the picture is 100% better then VHS tapes and nearly 50% better then DVD's. The sound quality has been improved and upgraded as well. Most Blu-ray’s have many more features that can be viewed as well which make for a much fuller movie experience too! Oh and just so you know, even if you don't own a Bluray movie you should go buy an on sale Bluray player. Why? Because a Bluray player scans the disk many more times than just a standard DVD player, that it will even make your older DVD movies look much better. That is, as long as you have a flat screen type of TV that was purchased in the last five years. Good luck and go get some!
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on April 16, 2014
Two treats for the price of one very cheap trick on Blu-ray? Great value!

"The Puppet Masters" (also credited as Robert A. Heilein's "The Puppet Masters") is a satisfying sci-fi romp mixing "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" with Roger Corman's "It Conquered the World" with a dash of Dustin Hoffman's "Outbreak" thrown in.

Alien invaders, this time hubcap-sized parasites that have a nasty whip-like proboscis that finds its way into the victim's brain, invade earth so they can live conveniently off their hosts. Donald Sutherland heads a small deep cover government anti-alien task force to terminate the baddies. Good moments of guessing who's infected with more than the usual amount of testosterone thrown in make this a tame 'R' experience for today--it would likely garner a PG-13 rating now.

I saw this in theaters back in the day. Holds up well and translates nicely to the small screen.

The better flick of this double creature feature is "Deep Rising" starring Treat Williams as a gung-ho mercenary (think Jason Statham's "The Transporter" character but on the high seas) leads a small crew on his specialized boat transporting a group of thugs/ highjackers/ thieves to a new luxury liner, a floating Vegas casino, without wanting to know too much about their mission. Mishaps and distrust abound and turn the gang of thieves against Treat and his crew but that's not when the real trouble starts. The real trouble starts when a monster from the ocean floor breaks its way into said liner and starts munching through the occupants. Let's just say that this tentacled testy has a mouth for every arm and its reach definitely doesn't outstretch its eye for its appetite. Treat and sex appeal Famke Janssen barely make it out alive but you should already know that simply by the cover art.

There is a lot of blood spatter what with people being shot up and blown to smithereens and the sea monster being a messy eater. The gore and abounding death are a bit gratuitous but that's the point of this monster movie and it delivers it all with its tongue firmly in cheek. It also delivers it quite well with good, energized performances and a nice blending of practical VFX along with CGI which was still very new for the time. And if you like big, squirmy, multi-tentacle monsters that can be almost anywhere at once and seem to magically know where their meal is then you too will get a kick out of this fast-paced gory treat. 4.25 stars.
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