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Puppet Master

Review by: 
Sinferno
Release Date: 
1981
Studio: 
Full Moon Features
Genre: 
Horror
Format: 
DVD
Region: 
1 NTSC
Aspect Ratio: 
1.78:1
Directed by: 
David Schmoeller
Cast: 
Paul Le Mat
William Hickey
Irene Miracle
Movie: 
4
Extras: 
3
Bottom Line: 
4

Try for a moment if you will and guess the largest series of live action, straight to video B-movies in your local video store.  Did you say Beastmaster?  The Highlander films? Or perhaps Toxic Avenger?  No, all wrong as usual. There are ten Puppet Master films, which makes them the undisputed king of sci/fi movies that have never appeared in a theater and yet have more installments than the STAR WARS series. So needless to say someone is seeing them, and most of you have seen at least one.  Usually the first one. Well guess what? Because this is something of a prestige picture for Full Moon Features, they have seen fit to re-release it in 16x 9 wide-screen and 5.1 stereo.

Puppet Master (1989)

When the film starts, the action centers on a vast Seaside resort known as the Bodega Bay Hotel where inside Andre Toulon is working on a set of puppets using old world craftsmanship and otherworldly necromancy. No sooner does he complete his beloved playthings, than he is forced to take his own life to keep them from ending up in the hands of the Gestapo who arrive at the worst possible time. Fast forward a few decades later to modern day and the Bodega Bay Hotel is now owned by an insane, scary looking man named Neil Gallager who had just killed himself, apparently in a similar fashion of the previous caretaker, Mr Toulon. 

It is at the funeral where the strings of intrigue start being pulled as Gallager's four friends arrive at the hotel, each one of them a former business partner, mystic and false friend who seems to want something from him; something terrible and intangible by the laws of our reality.  Fortunately for his surviving widow who knows nothing of the dark arcane nature of his husband's evil hobbies, the castle is infested with five themed puppets who are animated by stop motion animation and off camera manipulation, yet always exude just a little more personality and raw likability than the evil quartet of human psychics they attack and seek to strike down. This is some of the best stop motion animation I have ever seen in any film, and each of the puppets have such a unique schtick and/or means of attack, you won't even care that they are entirely mute and devoid of dialogue: “Tunneler”, burrows through human beings with his cone shaped drill head.  “Leech Woman” is a slippery little lass who regurgitates disgusting black bloodsuckers onto her incapacitated victims. “Pin Head” is an ADORABLE tiny headed simpleton who grapples with humans using his “man-sized” giant fists. “Blade” is a a shock white albino doll in Gestapo garb with a hardware store handshake. And “Jester”, plays the classic King Arthurian clad clown doll who merely watches the carnage going down, expressing his despair or dark delight with the always switching, always shifting Rubik's cube facial expressions of various discontent. Still, the Puppets in this movie are actually exquisitely moral creatures who only kill people who truly deserve it, making them”righteous figures” incarnate. despite their grotesque, crudely constructed bodies. This classic takes too long to get going, but once it does, it pulls at you with the skill of a puppeteer.

This is a new version of Puppet Master from Full Moon and it is as wise choice for an update as any because this was undoubtedly their most well known film. While, as mentioned before, there are ten Puppet Master films, this is the one that stands on its own and need not be rewritten (and yet it has, no less than nine times by now). Aside from slight improvements in Audio quality and video resolution, special features Include an original introduction by Charles Band, A “making of” Documentary and original trailers for the first 12 full moon features. Look, this is probably the best film this studio has ever released  so you might as well add it to your collection if you haven't already.  It's almost better than the other nine films in the series put together, anyway. And yes, I have seen them all.

To purchase, visit Full Moon's Website!

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