David Schmoeller’s ‘Puppet Master’

I have recently given myself the task of watching every entry in the series of films by Full Moon Features called The Puppet Master. These films tread the line between horror and action, often the titular puppets flipping sides as often as genre. I’m not going to go into too much detail but I have now made it far enough that I think it is time for me to start making these thoughts of mine into words. Lets fucking do this!



So episode one of The Puppet Master series focuses on a group of psychics that have been invited to a hotel in the hopes of unravelling mysterious goings on. The invite comes from a colleague and fellow Psychic Neil Gallagher (Jimmie F. Skaggs) who has recently taken residence at the spooky hotel. The story is eventually revealed to be that the Bodega Hotel was once the grounds for the final battle of Andre Toulon (William Hickey) the original Puppet Master, he met his end by his own hand but not before passing his secret of animation on to a protégé. It would appear that whoever the new Puppet Master is has lost control of the animate monsters and they have started killing who ever they see. What will happen to the Psychic group? Can they band together to stop something 12 inches long that doesn’t take batteries? Why would anyone be scared of a bunch of toys?


Spoiler! Someone dies!

Lets get on with the good, we will then do the bad since that way seems to work best. This film is excellent at knowing what it is and how to do a thing without spending too much money. They chose puppets because they are cheap and do not require any flashy animating, the people are psychics because no expensive special effects are required to show that and the cast are mostly unknown which means they are also cheap (Probably more so than some of the puppets). It is also nice that this series had some scope in this first film and they started a mythology that carries through all the other entries in the series.


Needless to say we all have dreams involving getting a bunch of head(‘s).

The bad, well because the actors are so cheap (I presume, if I’m wrong fee free to shout at me) they are not great actors, every line is tinged with a small hing of ham (Not the good Bruce Campbell kind) and your forever guessing what the intent of each scene is. The music is pretty awful but again budget meant that most of the money went on the screen, this does bring up the point that where the budget (While well used) was detrimental to the production. Expensive scenes last too long and some deaths are 5 minutes of a person screaming when we would only need 30 seconds to know that someone was not going to be in the sequels.


So fucking sexy!


So fucking sneaky!

I wouldn’t normally watch this film unless I planned to watch several of the films from this series, it doesn’t really stand well on its own and the narrative is all over the place. As the start to one of the lesser known horror series that are out there this is a humble beginning, it sets up a mythology which is rare but it is fair to assume the Full Moon would have made a sequel with pennies if they had to.


Please excuse the other guest, they are dead tired.

I did like the film, I have watched it before and knew what I was in for but if this was the first time I would probably be very underwhelmed. The puppets are not scary and the plot plods along at a muddling pace but there is something so endearing about it all, this is a series that was made with it’s dukes up ready to start a new film franchise. I cannot give it a full recommendation but I will give it a Sandra Bollock, sometimes you will enjoy it but most of the time you’ll just question how she keeps going.


Holy shit this film just went all Sinister up in this bitch!


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