Puppet Master is a very important film for me. For one, it has captured my heart since childhood, always being readily available at our local video store, and for two, it terrified the shit out of me as a child. At an extremely young age, I recall walking into a pitch-black room only to witness Tunneler drilling through a woman’s head.
Full Moon’s project that launched their entire company concerns a group of psychics staying at the Bodega Bay Inn due to recent activity. They then stumble up 5 devilish dolls that are guarding the secret of life. This plot works for many reasons. It takes the normal killer doll technique and throws away the huge back story of possession and focuses more on the fact that “oh shit these dolls are about to kill me” rather than “I wonder where these things come from”, but just in case, both are included.
Each puppet has it’s own very iconic traits. We have the skull-faced Blade, who with his fedora, blade and hook, and his bullet eyes, creates a very stylish terror in it’s own right. Pinhead, whose tiny head and huge arms recall back to Tod Browning’s Freaks. Mrs. Leech who vomits leeches onto any rival. Might not seem too freaky, but be warned if you don’t like creepy crawlies. Jester, the “leader” of the pack, who is merciless and cruel. Let’s not forget Tunneler, the vicious vindicator who drills all competition.
Using little squeaks in a first person puppet scene heightens the sense of the Napoleon syndromed dolls. The film would not be complete without Richard Band’s masterful soundtrack. The main theme alone carries throughout the entire series, complementing even the horrible films. The fact that all these dolls were once Nazi’s adds a certain charm to the mix.
Puppet Master is the only low-budget classic horror film that has actually given me something. I return, it has spawned numerous action figure lines, comics, shirts, and many, many sequels. This with a couple others are the only few contenders in the “good” killer inanimate object genre. David Allen does the special effects for this film. Stop motion is fluid and features many amazing scenes. I guess they couldn’t afford him anymore due to the lack of effort in the sequels. Andre Toulon has a family of tiny terrors. Personally, I care for each puppet, as they have a soul on screen.
You want rape? How about suicide? What about ex-Nazi killer puppets? This film has everything and should be examined as not a schlock-fest, but as an important stepping-stone in horror cinema. Full Moon paved the way for independent companies EDIT: to be successful. Too Full Moon hasn’t made a good film in decades.