Retro Review: Puppet Master (1989)

For my very first Retro Review for the Syndicate, I decided to pick a film that I actually had not seen before. The film has gone on to spawn nine sequels with a tenth being crowdfunded and is 132% funded as of January 2016. I stayed away from this film for as long as I could. I’m not sure why. As I have seen much worse films. I guess now was the time to break the mold and dive in and see what the fuss was all about with, The Puppet Master.


Charles Band created the Puppet Master franchise, when he started Full Moon Features in 1988. The same company that has brought us The Dead Hate The Living (one of the much worse films I mentioned above), Demonic Toys and a personal favorite, The Subspecies saga… Band previously had success prior to Full Moon. His company Empire Pictures made Ghoulies and the Brian Yuzna cult classic film, Re-Animator. So as you can imagine he had extremely high hopes for his forthcoming brainchild.

The plot is different for sure. An elderly man created puppets and brought them to life using some ancient Egyptian power that can resurrect inanimate objects. Kind of hokey, right? Fast forward to the 1989 present. A group of psychics are brought to a hotel when a colleague has committed suicide. They had all previously worked together to uncover this mysterious ancient force. The puppets though, have different plans to keep that power from getting into their hands.

Drill Sergeant
Drill Sergeant

Had I seen this film much younger in age, I believe it would’ve made more of an impact on me. The puppets were creative, each one with a different personality. The puppets’ movements were filmed using the timeless technique of stop-motion. Which I think actually worked really well. But to me, that didn’t do enough to keep the films strings attached (pun intended).

I liked it. But I didn’t love it. I wasn’t too impressed unfortunately, but maybe I was just expecting more. The last 10 minutes though, were very tense for sure and helped save the film for me. I think my favorite puppet so far, is Leech Woman.

Leech Woman
Leech Woman

Obviously the film has fans. Band has created an entire line of merchandise for his films. Toys, t-shirts and even has started a streaming service called Full Moon Streaming, that has cultivated quite a following. He’s been pretty successful when you think about it. But he hasn’t won me over. YET. I stress the yet, because I fully intend on checking out some of the sequels soon and see where The Puppet Master takes me!

I encourage you to watch and make your own mind up!

Revisit the trailer below!

IMDB: 5.6/10

ZombiSurvivor: 5.4/10 …unfortunately…

Stay Scared!

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About Jared Letourneau 189 Articles
Hey there boils and ghouls! My love of horror films came on a dark and stormy night.... ....Truthfully, it probably happened in 1980-something during a sunny day when I was 5 or 6. That movie was JAWS. I had never been so terrified to go swimming and I live in a land-locked state! I have been a Horror Hound ever since. Having seen hundreds of films, some good and some downright dreadful, my love for horror cinema has grown stronger than ever! My wife Beth and I consume all types of horror films. One of our mutual favorites is A Serbian Film (2010). A couple of my favorite directors are Lucio Fulci and John Carpenter. Contributing here at T.H.S and being able to work with these other folks is an indescribable honor to me. I love our T.H.S team.... I will share secrets after a few drinks and I also enjoy long romantic walks in dimly-lit cemeteries. My fave top 5 films are: 1)Dawn Of The Dead (Original) 2)The Thing (Carpenter's Remake) 3)Zombie 4)The Beyond 5)Friday the 13th pt IV: The Final Chapter Stay Scared! -ZombiSurvivor