Movie Review: Puppet Master

Another Full Moon movie that launched a series: Puppet Master.

The Andre Toulon and the Puppet Master saga begins…Alex Whittaker and three other gifted psychics are investigating rumors that the secret of life has been discovered by master puppeteer Andre Toulon. But the psychics quickly discover Toulon’s secret of death in the form of five killer puppets-each one uniquely qualified for murder and mayhem.

This movie starts in 1939, with the previously named Andre Toulon, at the Bodega Bay Inn. It is instantly obvious something is off, especially when we see some scenes through the eyes of one of the puppets — at puppet eye level — and the puppets do not appear to be at all afraid anyone might see them. The one we are treated to the view from is running around outside in broad daylight. And Andre touches the puppet he’s just finished and says, “Life upon my life” and some other such incantation and the puppet… comes to life. That’s a neat trick, and it is interesting how calm he is versus his very creepy looking puppets.

A pair of stern looking chaps get out of a car and it appears to be a race between the outside puppet, and them, up to the old man’s room. They’re very synchronized in their movements — robotic, even — as they head up to meet the fellow. He seems to know they’re coming, and calms his puppets — and the pair of men, it turns out, are Nazis.

So the question for me, from that point forward, became: wait, are the puppets the bad guys or the good guys? If they are not on the same side as the Nazis, that pretty clearly at least makes them neutral, right?

After this brief introduction we flash into the future where we start to meet our weird cast of characters, who I also spent most of the movie trying to figure out. Are they good, bad, or just neutral? We get a fucked up dream sequence, some weirdo scientists, and someone named the White Witch. I wrote down a couple of things about this group during their journey: “This bitch is crazy.” “Hate the fake Southern accent.”

The biggest problem I had with the movie may be solved in the sequels, which I have not watched yet: the puppets need more screen time in the middle of the movie. The cast of weirdos looking for the puppets aren’t very interesting. There’s some creepy and gross bits toward the end, too — the puppets unleash on some of the cast, further blurring the understanding of who you should root for.

Which was actually kind of nice: it is unnerving as hell to be rooting for the weird looking puppets over the humans. But sometimes people suck, so this is understanding. I enjoyed that about this movie, and I enjoyed the creepy, maybe-bad puppets.

The true villain does show up and make himself obviously the villain at the end, and I won’t spoil the twist there, but it was satisfying. All in all, this is a B-plus B-movie.

Report card:
Acting: A mixed bag; some actors are better than others.
Effects: Pretty good given they had to animate a bunch of creepy puppets.
Violence: A fair amount, and it can be pretty gruesome given some of the weapons of choice from the puppets.
Gun Use: What gun use there was, was pretty realistic.
Gore: Kind-of.
Creepy? I wrote “A bit… a lot” in my notes. It is increasingly creepy.
Monster Type? People and puppets.
Funny? Yes, usually when it is trying to be but on occasion when it is not trying to be.
Nudity: Yes, some nipple shots a fair bit into the movie. Totally unnecessary.
Pacing: Above average so far, but not as good as Trancers.