Every franchise has its humble origins somewhere, and in this case Puppet Master was born out of a studio’s need to make a low budget direct to video success. These days movies are even released on Netflix and other streaming services instead of in the studio, but in the 1980s direct to video was emerging as another way for horror filmmakers to get their movies out to the general public. Schmoller’s iconic cult film spawned 12 sequels and is a fairly solid, nasty and entertaining piece of work in its own right. I have no idea if I want to view the rest of the series, however I am endlessly amused by Hollywood’s desire to make endless franchises out of just about anything that makes money. Andre’ Toulon is shown in this one, however its only in a flashback that illustrating his ability to give puppets life. If you, like myself, find puppets to be creepy then this is a terrifying possibility, and the film eagerly builds upon the fear that many people have of wooden dolls scurrying around.

Years after poor Andre’ offs himself to prevent Nazis from gaining his ancient secret, a group of psychics show up at an old hotel. They’ve been brought together by the suicide of a colleague who they suspect discovered Toulon’s puppet formula. Unfortunately for them, Toulon’s old puppets are still wandering around, and everyone there is in grave danger. I rather liked the design of all of the puppets, each of them unique in their own ways. Blade is probably the most famous of the group, and is the puppet group’s leader. Despite being low budget the movie has some gory kills and a finale that is equal parts suspenseful and rather violent. I also liked the main character, Alex (Paul Le Mat), who is prone to nightmarish visions which are also some of the film’s creepy highlights. Even though the movie isn’t well shot I still liked this film, and am glad that Hulu had it at the time, and its design and conception reminds me more of 1990s horror films in that the genre was beginning to go more underground.

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