Puppet Master

Tag line : Evil comes in all sizes.

Puppet MasterA 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 strangely, having no interest in re-opening it, much to the chagrin of his long suffering wife.

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 following.

So if you haven't seen it yet, then you should definitely check it out.

Overall marks : 6/10.

Terrifying Trivia.

  • 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 similarly memorable.

  • The look of the Blade doll was based on actor Klaus Kinski.

  • Director David 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.

  • Re-Animator 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.

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