Tuesday, 11 June 2013
Puppet Master (1989).
Having grown up in the VHS era, visiting the rental store nearly every weekend, there are some VHS boxes that stick clearly in my mind. The ghoulish Grace Jones on the cover of Vamp, The Imp on the cover of The Imp AKA Sorority Babes in the Slime Ball Bowl-A-Rama, and of course the puppets on the Puppet Master case.
Puppet Master was my introduction to inanimate objects coming to life in horror movies, and I loved it. It was creepy, the stop motion animation was incredible and the puppets were certainly the stars of the show. The film is about a group of psychics, who visit a mansion on Bodega Bay to attend a funeral of one of their fellow psychics. Unfortunately for them, the puppets are in the mansion to take revenge on the psychics and will stop at nothing to murder each and every one of them.
Looking back at the movie now, it seems it is a movie of two extremes. On the one hand, all of the scenes involving the puppets are really good and enjoyable. On the other hand, anything that involves the group of psychics communicating, or any exposition, is boring. If it wasn't for the puppets, this film would have surely failed. The story is rather convoluted, and by the time the film is nearing it's end, it really does become one confusing mess.
It doesn't help at all that most of the human characters are despicable, arrogant and distasteful humans, and the viewer cannot feel any semblance of emotion when they get murdered. Obviously, that was the point all along. The film makers wanted to give the viewer an introduction to the puppets, and to build the franchise around them, not the humans involved. And I really feel that is the reason why Puppet Master has up to now got nine sequels (not including the Sy Fy Channel movie Puppet Master VS Demonic Toys) each with varying degrees of success. People love the puppets!
The puppets are amazingly animated, and even though they are only small, really do come across as threatening in the original movie. Our first sight of Pinhead (still one of my favorite scenes) is where his over sized hands pull him from a coffin. It sent shivers down my spine! The only puppet which didn't do any killing was Jester, and it seemed he was used to increase the tension with his spinning face. Tunneler has an effective way of dispatching his victims with his drill bit head, Leech Woman vomits killer leeches and Blade is probably the most well realized puppet out of them all, as more of his character is shown and he really does seem to come alive before the viewers eyes.
After all this time, Puppet Master isn't as good as I remember, but it was an interesting trip of nostalgia, and shows just how differently we see things when we are young. The FX still stand up well today, especially the stop motion animation of the puppets, and the story seems much more confusing than I remember it being. If you love killer doll movies, Puppet Master is definitely worth a look, just for the puppets themselves.