I don't know if you've ever tried to review Puppetmaster with a raging headache, but it's not awesome.  Alas, I can't keep my fawning zealots waiting any longer.  I suppose that I should savor these moments while they last.  The first half of the Puppet Master series is a grace period of sorts.  I'm going to be dragging knuckles and testicles by the time I get to Axis of Evil.  First, I need to get something off of my chest.  Barring the poster, the inaugural film in this series presents its title as one word.  The rest of the lot?  "Puppet" and "master" are separate entities.  Why?  No, seriously.  Why???  And why does this irk me so?  Make up your mind, Band.

Of course, Puppetmaster is synonymous with ol' Charlie, but the 1989 original is directed by David Schmoeller.  He knows what he's doing, as evidenced by the threatening Tourist Trap and the curious Crawlspace.  Here, he does an exemplary job of conducting the chaos on-screen.  According to extremely reliable sources (the Internet), Band extradited Schmoeller from the franchise's cathedra because he didn't want to share the spotlight with another living soul.  He never invited the poor bastard to record a commentary track for the DVD, and according to other extremely reliable sources (a different website), he still owes him residuals.  Who knows if all of that is true?  At the moment, I don't care.

Let's get down to brass tacks.  Puppetmaster is capable entertainment.  It holds the rather unique distinction of having "villains" who are propositioned as good guys.  The puppets themselves were engineered by an aging, troglodytic alchemist played by William Hickey.  They were created to be mere companions, but if manipulated by impish hands, they could be ghastly little things.  And that's exactly what happens.  Long story short, a dappled troupe of pint-sized assassins terrorize people in a posh hotel overlooking the sea.  Our cannon fodder is a mixed bag of psychics, witch doctors and kinky psychotherapists.  At least the script avoided the usual slasher stereotypes (jock, slut, nerd, etc.).

Schmoeller has fun playing with surreal dream sequences and ankle-high POV shots.  Puppetmaster certainly looks fabulous, even if we're limited to a single location.  The kills are just gory enough.  I'll admit that Leech Woman is fucking gross, and her spot on the Boogeymen compilation is well-earned.  Blade is badass, Jester is creepy (that goddamn spinning head), Pinhead is an agreeable lug...for better or worse, the puppets are more interesting than their human counterparts.  I wasn't sold on the film's tone.  By that, I mean the horror is cuffed by a finespun streak of slapstick humor.  It's not too obtrusive, but it's pronounced enough to dampen my twinkie.  The opening scene, in particular, is almost painful.  Blade is knocked down by a swinging door, and we hear birds chirping. Hysterical!

In general, Puppetmaster is harmless buffoonery.  You can probably tell, but I wasn't electrocuted by its heart-stopping chills and spills.  I dig it regardless.  It is what it is.  A sequel I could understand, but nine?  Was the merchandise that renumerative?  Was the direct-to-video market that profitable?  Is it too late for me to back out?  Will Jesus forgive me for watching all of these larks?

1 comment:

  1. I love Puppet Master too much. Here is a film that most guys will like over girls, and a lot of guys like it. Reason being, it reflects our inner child, as young boys playing with toys. And it also is a horror film. It's a blast of horror nostalgia.