Puppet Master (film)
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|Directed by||David Schmoeller|
|Produced by||Hope Perello
|Written by||Charles Band
Kenneth J. Hall
|Starring||Paul Le Mat
Jimmie F. Skaggs
|Music by||Richard Band|
|Edited by||Thomas Meshelski|
|Distributed by||Full Moon Features
|Running time||90 minutes|
Puppet Master (also known as Puppetmaster and Puppet Master I) is a 1989 American horror film written by Charles Band and Kenneth J. Hall, and directed by David Schmoeller. It is the first film in the Puppet Master franchise and stars Paul Le Mat, Irene Miracle, Matt Roe and Kathryn O'Reilly as psychics who are plotted against by a former colleague, using puppets animated by an Egyptian spell. Originally intended for theatrical release in summer 1989, before being released on home video the following September, Puppet Master was ultimately pushed to a direct-to-video release on October 12, 1989, as Charles Band felt he was likely to make more money this way than he would in the theatrical market. The film was very popular in the video market and since developed a large cult following that has led to the production of ten sequels.
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In 1939 Bodega Bay, California, an old puppeteer named Andre Toulon is putting the finishing touches on a living puppet called Jester. A living oriental puppet, named Shredder Khan, stares out of the window for Blade, another living puppet, as Blade scouts the grounds of the Bodega Bay Inn that Andre is staying. Two Nazi spies get out of a car and head for Toulon's room but Blade beats them there and Andre puts Blade, Jester and Shredder Khan into a chest with the Indian puppet, named Gengie, before hiding the chest in a wall panel. As the Nazis break down the door, Toulon shoots himself in the mouth with a pistol.
50 years later, in 1989, psychics Alex Whitaker, Dana Hadley, Frank Forrester and Carissa Stamford make contact with an old colleague of theirs, Neil Gallagher, and conclude he found Andre Toulon's hiding place. Each one of them experiences a different vision; Alex sees Neil pointing a gun at a young woman's head, and dreams of leeches sucking blood out of his stomach, while Dana for-sees her possible death.
The psychics meet at the Bodega Bay Inn that Neil resides at and meet Neil's wife, Megan, the woman from Alex's vision. They also meet the housekeeper, Theresa. The psychics are skeptical that Neil took a wife but it is forgotten when Megan tells them that Neil shot himself. Theresa, Megan, and Alex leave the body, leaving Frank, Carissa and Dana. Dana stabs a long pin into Neil's corpse to verify that he is in fact dead.
Each psychic experiences a vision; Dana tells Theresa not to go near the fireplace, Alex sees Neil wearing a mask while dancing with Megan in the dining room, and Carissa sees Neil assaulting a woman in the elevator. As the sun sets, Pinhead, another living puppet, climbs out of Neil's casket. That night at dinner, Dana makes several remarks about Neil that causes Megan to leave the table. Alex goes after her and explains about the powers of the people in the group. Carissa is a psychometrist, and she can touch an object and give the object's history, Dana can tell fortunes and locate things and people, and Alex himself has premonitions in his dreams and when he's awake. All four of them were helping Neil in his research of Alchemy, and during that time, Frank and Neil discovered that the Egyptians created a method of giving life to inanimate figurines, a power passed down to practitioners of magic, and Dana tracked down the location of Andre Toulon, the last true alchemist, to the hotel. But because he hasn't made contact with them in a while, Dana and the rest think he screwed them over and took whatever he was looking for himself, and they're there to take it and settle the score.
When night falls, Theresa goes near the fireplace and is knocked out when Pinhead hits her with a poker. Someone moves Gallagher's body to a chair, and causes Megan to become ill. Before going to bed, Dana puts protection spells around Alex and his room, forcing Blade to leave Alex alive for now. Carissa and Frank spend some intimate time together to open up a channel and make contact with Neil in their hotel room but two more living puppets, Tunneler and Leech Woman, enter. Tunneler kills Carissa by drilling into her face and Leech Woman vomits poisonous leeches onto Frank's body, which drain his blood, which it disrupts Alex in his sleep. Meanwhile, Gallagher's body reappears in Dana's room, and she puts a spell on him to put him at rest until she is attacked by Pinhead, who breaks her leg. Pinhead chases her and repeatedly strangles and punches her until she manages to knock him away, only to have her throat cut by Blade, using his knife-hand, fulfilling her fortune.
Alex has a premonition of Megan taking him to Toulon's room when nightmares of Megan having a gun put to her head by Neil and the other psychics being found dead block him from seeing the room, but is eventually awoken by Megan, who takes him into the room that Andre Toulon was in, and tells him that Neil found Andre's secret to bringing inanimate objects to life. Alex has a vision of Neil shooting him and they go downstairs to escape when Alex senses the others in the dining room, and finds their dead bodies sitting around a table. They are stopped by the newly resurrected Neil. He explains that "metaphysically speaking", he did commit suicide, but he used Toulon's secrets to give himself eternal life. He contacted them all so they wouldn't take the secret from him, and he hopes to use their bodies for future human experiments (the first being Megan's parents), expressing disgust of working with the puppets and violently throws Jester at a chair. Seeing this attack on one of their own, the puppets revolt against Neil, brutally killing him in front of Alex and Megan.
The film cuts to Alex saying goodbye to Megan and leaving the hotel. Now alone, Megan picks up Dana's taxidermic dog, and in the following scene, the dog becomes completely animate, walking up the stairs with Megan, indicating that she, too, has learned Toulon's method (although the film's sequel dispels that she has become the next Puppet Master).
- William Hickey as Andre Toulon
- Paul Le Mat as Alex Whitaker
- Irene Miracle as Dana Hadley
- Jimmie F. Skaggs as Neil Gallagher
- Robin Frates as Megan Gallagher
- Matt Roe as Frank Forrester
- Kathryn O'Reilly as Carissa Stamford
- Mews Small as Theresa
- Barbara Crampton as Woman at Carnival
- David Boyd as Buddy
- Peter Frankland as Max
- Andrew Kimbrough as Klaus
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Critical reception for the film has been mixed to negative.
TV Guide gave the film a negative review calling it "a pointless variation on the killer-doll genre". Wes R. from Oh the Horror.com gave the film a positive review stating, "Despite its flaws, Puppet Master emerges as one of the more enjoyable of the 'killer toy' type horror films". It currently has a 33% "Rotten" on Rotten Tomatoes
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Puppet Master has been reissued several times. It is available in a box set featuring the first seven installments of the series, an 18-disc Full Moon Features collection and a Spanish-subtitled import collection of the first three Puppet Master films. In 2007, Razor Digital released an uncut DualDisc version of Puppet Master, featuring both the standard and stereoscopic versions of the film. The uncut version restores a number of deleted scenes, including additional footage of Frank and Carissa having sex, extra frames added to Dana's death which make the slash across her throat more visible, and Neil's death scene being extended to contain more gore. In December 2008, Band authorized Puppet Master for digital download through the iTunes Store; his first foray into the digital market.
20th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray
On June 15, 2010, Full Moon re-released Puppet Master (in its original widescreen format for the first time) in a collector's edition 2-disc set with its eighth canon sequel, Puppet Master: Axis of Evil (Puppet Master vs. Demonic Toys is not from Full Moon Features and is not considered part of the series). The set includes packaging resembling Toulon's trunk, a poster for Axis of Evil, mini-poster cards for all of the films in the series, and stickers featuring each puppet. The set is available in DVD and Blu-ray, marking Full Moon's first foray into the Blu-ray market, including both their first film (Puppet Master) and their latest film (Axis of Evil, at the time). As of July 27, 2010 both Axis Of Evil and new release of the first film are available to own separately on DVD and Blu-ray.
In March 2009, it was reported that Band is interested in remaking 1989's Puppet Master in 3-D. Similarly, the original film was reissued by Razor Digital in 2007 in DualDisc format, featuring both standard and stereoscopic versions, as well as being uncut, unlike the Full Moon release.
- "Puppet Master Trailer, Reviews and Schedule for Puppet Master". TV Guide. TV Guide. Retrieved 19 November 2014.
- R., Wes. "Horror Reviews - Puppet Master (1989)". Oh the Horror.com. Wes R. Retrieved 19 November 2014.
- "Puppet Master - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 19 November 2014.
- "LIMITED EDITION 2-DISC BLU-RAY SET; PUPPETMASTER: AXIS OF EVIL & PUPPETMASTER 1". Full Moon Features. Retrieved 2010-03-09.
- "Charles Band to Remake 'Puppetmaster' in 3-D". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved 2009-03-23.