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John’s Old School Horror Corner: Puppet Master (1989)

March 15, 2013

MY CALL:  One of the best direct-to-video horror movies ever made.  This is fun, even cute at times while off-putting at others.  IF YOU LIKE THIS WATCHGhoulies (1985) and sequels.

Andre Toulon (William Hickey; Tales from the Darkside: The Movie; The Sentinel), a seemingly good-natured man who crafted and breathed life into his puppet creations, commits suicide to avoid his capture by Nazi officers during World War II.  But, before ending his life, he safely hid his precious creations away so that they me be found present day.

Andre Toulon giving life to Jester.

Seeking Toulon’s creations, a team of psychics are guided by their visions to a large hotel on the coast.  Unlike carnival crazies and ghost hunters, these are all apparently upper-middle class academics of high society.  They waste no time pretentiously using their psychic gifts to find them.  Except, in the case, the puppets seem to be doing all the hunting.

Blade and Pinhead.

Generally, the acting is more wooden than the puppets.  But the tone of this unique horror film more than makes up for the D-list performances.  POV shots simulating scrambling puppets’-eye-views are playfully filmed.  When we see these animated puppets, the stop-motion is imperfect, but delivers a sort of youthful charm…but it can also be quite off-putting at times.

Jester’s sad face.

Blade looking pleased with himself.

The puppets come with their own amusing flavors.  Pinhead has man hands (as in a stop-motion puppet with live-action human hands), Leech Woman magically regurgitates leeches, Tunneler has a drill on his head, Blade has a hook for one hand and a blade for the other but somehow seems the nicest, and Jester strikes me as pure evil.  Leech Girl is totally gross and Pinhead is the most off-putting with his human hands.  Each puppet gets its chance to shine.

Leech Woman interrupting a sex scene.

Not exactly the Barbie your kid sister used to play with, right?

As a nice change of pace, this horror movie uses adults as its victims (not college kids or high schoolers), it’s generally well lit (almost like a daytime setting) and it’s playful.  This is also one of few movies in which I really don’t care that we don’t see the kills.  The gore is okay at first and improves in quality and quantity towards the end of the film.

If you love any of the horror franchises of the 80s, then you must at least see part one of this series!

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  1. John’s Horror Corner: Puppet Master II (1991) | Movies, Films & Flix
  2. John’s Old School Horror Corner: Ghoulies (1985) | Movies, Films & Flix
  3. John’s Horror Corner: Puppet Master III: Toulon’s Revenge (1991) | Movies, Films & Flix
  4. John’s Old School Horror Corner: Ghoulies 2 (1988) | Movies, Films & Flix
  5. John’s Horror Corner [INDEX] | Movies, Films & Flix
  6. John’s Horror Corner: Puppet Master 4 | Movies, Films & Flix
  7. Puppetmaster 1989 « Crazy Goblin magazine
  8. John’s Horror Corner: Ghoulies III: Ghoulies Go to College (1991) | Movies, Films & Flix
  9. John’s Horror Corner: Puppet Master 5 (1994) | Movies, Films & Flix
  10. Puppetmaster 1989 | Mean Goblin magazine
  11. The Best Horror Came from the 80s: Horror movies that stand the Test of Time and their more modern counterparts, Part 2 | Movies, Films & Flix
  12. John’s Horror Corner: Curse of the Puppet Master (1998), and what should have been the death of a franchise | Movies, Films & Flix
  13. John’s Horror Corner: Retro Puppet Master (1999), the seventh installment of a franchise that just doesn’t seem to know when to quit | Movies, Films & Flix
  14. John’s Horror Corner: Puppet Master: The Legacy (2003), this incredibly annoying eighth franchise installment serves as a nothing more than a review of the past movies with loads of stock footage | Movies, Films & Flix
  15. John’s Horror Corner: Puppet Master: Axis of Evil (2010) | Movies, Films & Flix
  16. John’s Horror Corner: The Lords of Salem (2013), the softer side of Rob Zombie | Movies, Films & Flix
  17. Bad Channels (1992), a goreless flick favoring cheap comedy over horror | Movies, Films & Flix
  18. John’s Horror Corner: Seed People (1992), the root of all evil | Movies, Films & Flix
  19. John’s Horror Corner: Dark Angel: The Ascent (1994), a convincing horror love story | Movies, Films & Flix
  20. John’s Horror Corner: Doctor Mordrid, Master of the Unknown (1992) | Movies, Films & Flix
  21. John’s Horror Corner: Meridian (1990), a Beauty and the Beast romantic fantasy story crafted by a horrorsmith | Movies, Films & Flix
  22. John’s Horror Corner: Netherworld (1991), Full Moon’s attempt at a serious horror film | Movies, Films & Flix
  23. John’s Horror Corner: Hideous! (1997), it’s not your typical mutant monster fetus movie | Movies, Films & Flix
  24. John’s Horror Corner: Head of the Family (1996), a delightfully tasteless sleazy horror comedy | Movies, Films & Flix
  25. John’s Horror Corner: The Killer Eye (1999), an erotic horror gone horribly wrong | Movies, Films & Flix
  26. The Best Moments of one of the Worst Years in Horror: looking back 20 years to 1995 | Movies, Films & Flix
  27. Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (1990), a great horror anthology featuring mummies, killer black cats and amorous gargoyles. | Movies, Films & Flix
  28. John’s Horror Corner: Frankenhooker (1990), a raunchy slapstick Frankenstein throwback exploitation film with loads of exploding prostitutes. | Movies, Films & Flix
  29. The Best Moments of one of the Worst Years in Horror: looking back 20 years to 1996 | Movies, Films & Flix
  30. John’s Horror Corner: Tourist Trap (1979), where Psycho meets The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. | Movies, Films & Flix
  31. John’s Horror Corner: Annabelle: Creation (2017), super creepy, super jumpy, super evil, and a fine addition to The Conjuring Universe. | Movies, Films & Flix
  32. The Best Moments of one of the Worst Decades in Horror: looking back 20 years to 1997 | Movies, Films & Flix
  33. John’s Horror Corner: Cult of Chucky (2017), from the 1988 classic to the guilty pleasure sequels, I continue to enjoy this evil doll franchise! | Movies, Films & Flix
  34. John’s Horror Corner: Curse IV: The Ultimate Sacrifice (1988; aka, Catacombs), a B-movie that clearly has nothing to do with any other “Curse” movies. | Movies, Films & Flix
  35. Bad Movie Tuesday: The Dungeonmaster (1984; aka Ragewar), another sword and sorcery fantasy B-movie with a laser-shooting techno-anthology spin. | Movies, Films & Flix
  36. John’s Horror Corner: Dolls (1987), a heavy dose of 80s-nostalgic murderous stop-motion demon dolls from goretastic director Stuart Gordon. | Movies, Films & Flix
  37. John’s Horror Corner: Child’s Play (2019), the fun reboot of the 1988 classic evil doll franchise that we deserve! | Movies, Films & Flix
  38. John’s Horror Corner: Child’s Play (1988), the classic evil doll movie introducing us to Chucky and Brad Dourif’s menace! | Movies, Films & Flix
  39. John’s Horror Corner: Annabelle Comes Home (2019), an entertaining but middle-of-the-road contribution to The Conjuring Universe. | Movies, Films & Flix
  40. John’s Horror Corner: Child’s Play 2 (1990), an inferior evil doll sequel that still manages to entertain, especially with its melty finale. | Movies, Films & Flix
  41. John’s Horror Corner: Child’s Play 3 (1991), Chucky goes to military school and breaks his Voodoo rules in this serviceable sequel. | Movies, Films & Flix

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