Monday, July 31, 2017

The Movie You Were Thinking of When I Reviewed Dolls, or Thoughts on Puppet Master

If you’ve ever watched The Muppet Movie (1979) and thought it needed tiny knives and a non-cute, supernatural slasher agenda, then do I have a movie for you.  These are not your mother’s Muppets in Puppet Master (1989), though they do have their own distinct personalities and a strangely familiar charm like more dangerous versions of Kermit and Fozzie.  Brought to life by an ancient Egyptian scroll like the original 1932 Mummy, they’re investigated by a team of kinky psychics in Bodega Bay including Paul LeMat from American Graffiti (1973) and Strange Invaders (1983) staying at an Art Deco hotel in Bodega Bay.
Employing stop motion techniques reminiscent of Ray Harryhausen and actual, analog puppetry (animatronics is just a high-tech name a string-less marionette), the puppets aren’t technically scary (unless you’re vermiphobic) despite the unarguably winning combination with 80’s gore, but that doesn’t make their scenes any less compelling or cool to watch.  Much like the Westworld reboot, I think it’s human nature to fear the creations we make in our own image, and it’s always fun to watch them run amuck.
The puppets introduced included Blade, with a face (according to the filmmakers) inspired by Klaus Kinski, the leader of the puppet gang; armed with a knife he’s a traditional killer in black but so tiny and cute.  Jester, with a twisty Rubrik’s Cube head, he’s the emotional one of the group and non-murdery.  Pinhead, with a tiny head and giant hands, he’s the muscle who likes to punch and strangle.  Tunneler has a drill head and a Nazi uniform (the Nazi connection would be explained or elaborated on in future sequels) while Leech Woman is a sexy brunette Barbie that spits leeches (duh). 
Watch out for the Barbara Crampton cameo as a carnival mark with a loser boyfriend.  To date there have been 8 sequels and a reboot set in Nazi Germany, all of which I plan on watching and reviewing, because 1, I like a challenge and 2, I can’t get enough of those cute killer puppets.

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