Puppet Master

January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Andre Toulon (William Hickey) is a puppet maker, whose creations have more life to them than most puppets. This is due to one interesting note, Toulon has discovered the secret to life and instills his creations with the formula, which brings them to life. In order to make sure his secret stays out of dangerous hands, Toulon kills himself and takes the secret with him, although his puppets are left behind. Time passes, and the rumor that Toulon had discovered the secret of life has drawn Alex Whittaker (Paul Le Mat) and three other psychics to Toulon’s mansion, where they hope to solve the mystery once and for all. While this group has come looking for life, they find the exact opposite when Toulon’s puppets emerge to protect their master’s secret. Tunneler with his drill enabled head, Pinhead and his powerful and massive hands, Blade with his gleaming hook and bladed hand, Leech Woman with her life draining leeches, and Jester with his murderous temper all stalk these unwanted visitors. Will these psychics be able to locate the goods they came for, or will they fall victim to Toulon’s amazing creations?

I guess I just can’t resist a menagerie of murderous puppets, because I love this movie, as well as the many sequels. While I can see how some might not get a kick out of these films, I can always depend on them for a good time. This is the original, the movie that started it all and introduced us to these lovable little guys. Without a doubt the puppets are what makes this movie so entertaining, and the personalities and designs of them are excellent. While I am personally a follower of Pinhead, all the puppets are cool and fun to watch. The production values on the movie as a whole might be lacking, but the puppets look fantastic and move very well. This series might have a cheesy reputation, but the effort put into the puppets is top notch and worth looking at, even if you don’t like the movies themselves. This is a horror movie, so there’s death and some blood, though gore isn’t the focus of this one. The manner is which the folks are offed is usually entertaining also, and there’s quite a bit of humor laced into the storyline. This is an easy recommendation for fans of this series, and if you’ve wanted to check out how it all started, then by all means this is your best chance.

This film was directed by David Schmoeller, who seems to have his skills at making cult classics honed well. While this might not be the perfect example of technical directing out there, I think the visual compositions used here are excellent, especially the angles used and movements the camera takes. Schmoeller also directed such films as Tourist Trap, The Arrival, Crawlspace, and Netherworld. The acting in this film is good, especially given the nature of having to work with puppets. Paul Le Mat (American Graffiti, American History X) has the lead role and does a decent turn, and the rest of the cast manages to come off well too. Even though his role is rather brief, William Hickey (The Jerky Boys, Christmas Vacation) turns in a nice performance as Toulon, the puppet master. The supporting cast also includes Barbara Crampton (Space Truckers, Castle Freak), Irene Miracle (Inferno, Torture Train), Jimmie F. Skaggs (Underworld, Solar Crisis), and Robin Frates (Man’s Best Friend, One Night Stand). Alas, no matter how good these actors performed, the special effects creations of David Allen would have always been the true stars. The puppets have just as much personality as the human actors, and they truly steal this show.

Video: How does it look?

Puppet Master is presented in an open matte full frame transfer. The package states the film is in widescreen, but it is incorrect. This film was made on a fairly low budget, so the film stock isn’t the finest out there, but this transfer gives us the best looking version of this cult classic to date. The colors look terrific with bright and bold hues, and flesh tones look natural at all times. The contrast is overly light in some places, due to some film grain, but the image still looks sharp. Detail level is high, and the shadows still seem complex. While this is a solid transfer, I still hold out hope for a re-release with a restored widescreen version of the film.

Audio: How does it sound?

This release uses a 2.0 surround track, which offers a nice sounding audio experience. There is some minor surround use, including some bass activity that’s welcome. The surround use is infrequent but effective, and this film doesn’t call for much beyond what this track provides. The eerie musical score sounds terrific, as does the dialogue, which comes through clear and without error.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This has some nice supplements, including a brief, but interesting behind the scenes featurette. Within the seven minutes of the featurette, you’ll see some interviews and some wonderful footage of the puppets being created. The disc also houses a trailer for the film, some extensive talent files, a weblink, and a Full Moon merchandise guide.

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