There is a great advantage to having absolutely terrible taste in film. Stopping at the five dollar rack in the supermarket can frequently provide hours of bargain priced entertainment.
A recent quick stop at the A&P yielded some essentials:
This series was a staple of my late night cable watching of the Nineties, along with fellow Full Moon favorite, the Subspecies movies. Remember those masterpieces featuring Radu, who came off as a vampiric version of Torgo from Manos: Hands of Fate? Full Moon has been busy in my absence. There's at least twice as many other Puppet films now as in my set.
I recalled the Puppet Masters being mostly fun and silly adventures, each film featuring a gang of straight to video actors dispatched in entertaining ways by the little homunculusesesess. I also remembered the films having one partially sheet covered dirty part each, as required by the After Ten PM Premium Channel act of 1987. That combined with the - impressive for the negligible budget - amount of gore the Puppets could inflict on whoever crossed them meant I would be watching the films without my wife or daughter.
The stop motion and articulation of the puppets were surprisingly good, as were the practical effects of some of the slaughters. They saved money to afford those by having a majority of the scenes be characters wandering slowly around, while spooky music played and out of camera crew members peeked dolls into the shot in the opposite direction the victim to be was looking. High tech!
I reached the spot occupied by these movies on my queue of DVDs I watch while exercising and prepared for some entertaining goofiness while I trundled along on the treadmill.
Then I put the film in and started walking…
In the basement…
While the highly creepy Puppet Master waltz played…
Surrounded by these:
I suddenly realized I had only listened to two of the four commentaries on the extended version of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and quickly changed disks.
A couple of weeks later (or ten hours of exercise time later) I finally grew a pair and went back to the adventures of Blade, Pinhead, Leech Woman and the Jester. The first film was definitely the most seriously spooky, with the others being more fun, and also slowly twisting the Puppets onto the heroes of the picture side. This is a common fate for many an awesome villain. Not that their methods became more soft and friendly. They were basically little wooden versions of Death Wish.
The most horrifying realization of the whole series was how similar many of the scenes are, albeit through and extremely lighter and cuter filter, to the Toy Story movies.
I have absolutely no difficulty in imagining John Lassiter and the Pixar gang watching Toulon’s murderous miniatures maim and mangle some hapless victim and think:
Sid was luckier than he’ll ever know.