A group of psychics head over to an
old hotel in California to pay their respects to a former colleague of theirs
who recently died. It seems he had purchased the property, known as the Bodega
Bay Inn, many years ago. But prior to his death, had become extremely
irrational, closing the place and undertaking huge reconstruction work, yet
having no interest in re-opening it, much to the chagrin of his long suffering
The hotel was rumoured to be the
last hideout of notorious French puppeteer Andre Toulon, who shot himself in his
room back in 1939. It had been claimed that his shows were not simple
performances, but that his puppets were actually alive. Hence why he fled Europe
at the onset of WW2.
Suspecting their former colleague
may have stumbled upon Toulon's secrets before his death, the group settle down
for the night, only to find that the stories about his puppets having a life of
their own are all too true. As they are subsequently attacked by a bunch of
small, evil looking puppets, consisting of one with blades for hands, one with a rotating drill on
his head, one that can spit out leaches and another with massive hands
than can knock people out.
With the former friends and
staff at the hotel (which includes "American Graffiti's" Paul LeMat and
"Midnight Express's" Irene Miracle), slowly falling prey to the killer
dolls, they attempt to discover who it is that might be controlling them, seeing
as Andre Toulon is long since dead, whilst the puppets continue hack, slash,
drill and punch their way through the unsuspecting victims. Which really makes
you wonder, how come a hotel full of psychics didn't see this coming?
Released as a direct to video
feature back in the late 80s, I must admit, it took me a while to get round to
seeing this one, as I hadn't considered the prospect of killer puppets to be
particularly interesting. However, when I finally got round to viewing this, I
was pleasantly surprised and can see why this has gained such a huge cult
So if you haven't seen it yet, then
you should definitely check it out.
Overall marks : 6/10.
Alternate tag lines
"Killers Come in All Sizes", "A box of little toys has just become a
gang of little terrors", "This is not child's play...".
First film to be
produced and released by Charles Band's "Full Moon Pictures".
The external shots
of the Bodega Bay Inn were actually of the Castle Green hotel,
located in Pasadena, California. However, it is actually located in
the middle of town and does not overlook the beach as shown in the
film. This was achieved by superimposing
the image of the hotel onto a separately filmed clifftop background.
Irene Miracle also
starred in Dario Argento's "Inferno"
Charles Band got the
idea for the film from his earlier movie "Dolls", he wanted
to use the name "Puppet Master" as the film that he got the
most positive feedback from was his movie "Dungeon Master" (AKA "Ragewar"),
so figured if he played about with the title it would prove
The look of the
Blade doll was based on actor Klaus Kinski.
Schmoeller designed the puppets for the film, as well as writing the
screenplay. But has since fallen out with producer Charles Band as
he claims that he hasn't paid him all the royalties he's owed, plus
Band refuses to credit him for helping create the franchise.
star Barbara Crampton has a guest role as one of the patrons
visiting the fairground fortune teller at the start of the film.
The film ran into a
rights dispute when Full Moon Pictures tried releasing it onto US
DVD back in the early 00's, as Paramount had the US VHS rights,
whereas Full Moon had the US laserdisc rights, so it was not clear
who had the rights to the DVD. As Charles Band didn't have the money
to fight Paramount, he ended up pulling the DVD releases of all his
earlier films after only a few weeks. As a result, early US DVD
releases of the first 5 Puppet Master films sold for silly money on
the collectors market for quite some time, even though most of the
films where available on disc in other countries. The dispute was
finally resolved in 2010, when Paramount's distribution rights came
to an end and Full Moon were finally able to release all their back
catalogue onto disc.
The film was
originally intended for a theatrical release, but they decided to
release it direct-to-video as they thought it would sell better on
the home market.
The original US
release was cut for an R rating, which trimmed some of the violence
and shortened the sex scenes. The original UK VHS release was of the
same cut R-rated version, but later video releases were of the
unrated version, though the BBFC cut 3s from the flashback scene showing a
woman being raped in an elevator. The current UK and US DVDs and Blu-Rays
are all of the cut R-rated version. The unrated version has, so far,
only been released onto disc in the US on a double pack with a 3D
version of the film.