SLASHER MONTH: Puppet Master (1989)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This was originally part of slasher month two years ago on October 11, 2020. It’s back because the goal is to write up every single film in the series this week.

Puppet Master may have started with one direct-to-video movie, but since then, there’s been ten sequels, a crossover with Demonic Toys and a recent reboot, Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich.

After Empire Pictures went out of business, Charles Band started Full Moon Productions, which would partner with Paramount Pictures and Pioneer Home Entertainment to create direct-to-video movies. Puppet Master would be first and it’s very similar to another Band movie, Dolls. Yes, this was originally intended for theaters, but Band thought it would make more money as a home release.

Think Star Wars is confusing? Well, Puppet Master is really the sixth film in chronological order. It starts in Bodega Bay, California in the year 1939. A puppeteer named André Toulon (William Hickey, Uncle Lewis from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation) is finishing a puppet he calls Jester when Nazi spies come for him. He places Jester and the other puppets (Blade, Shredder Khan and Gengie) into a hidden panel before killing himself.

Fifty years later, psychics Alex Whitaker, Dana Hadley, Frank Forrester and Carissa Stamford take a journey to meet their old colleague Neil Gallagher, who has found Toulon’s hiding place, all thanks to a series of visions. Soon, a doll named Pinhead is taking out the psychic’s one by one, finally revealing that Neil has been alive all along using Toulon’s Egyptian secrets of alchemy to reanimate himself. However, he’s dumb enough to cross the puppets and throw Jester at a chair. Those puppets stay together. Only Alex and Megan survive along with Dana’s formerly taxidermied dog, which is now mysteriously back alive.

Such a small debut for a series that would go on to so many more installments, right? Even though they only have five minutes of screen time, people fell in love with the little guys. How can’t you adore Blade, who is based on Klaus Kinski and the Leech Woman? Strangely enough, most of the music in this movie comes from a movie Band produced that’s also about bringing inanimate objects to life, Tourist Trap.

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