Rumor has it that Sid and Marty Krofft are developing a new movie based on their bizarre life-size puppet show, H.R. Pufnstuf. But will it hold up to their first feature? Looking more like an ambitious TV episode than a feature film, the endearingly low-tech Pufnstuf hit the big screen in 1970 with the gee-whiz spirit of a community theater musical. The whole cast is here: Jack Wild's lisping hero, who sings and dances with his magic talking flute; Billie Hayes' cackling Witchiepoo; the drawling dragon Pufnstuf; and the usual collection of talking trees, beavers, owls, mushrooms, and other frantic live-action cartoon characters. Martha Raye guest stars as Boss Witch and "Mama" Cass Elliot (as Witchiepoo's archrival in the "Witch of the Year" contest) sings "different is hard, different is lonely." The songs are otherwise eminently forgettable, and the story is the usual Saturday morning silliness of bumbling bad guys and resourceful heroes in slapstick square-offs--you can almost hear the laugh track. Fans of the show will appreciate its surreal weirdness (Witchiepoo as a go-go dance instructor?), but what can anyone make of the image of Pufnstuf spinning on a spit over a barbeque? It's no Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory but Billie Hayes powers the picture with her madcap energy and comic flair. And even gets her own song, "We Can Zap the World." Zap away, Witchiepoo. --Sean Axmaker
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