Sunday, January 29, 2012

REVIEW: Puppet Master (1989)

So apparently enough people actually enjoyed this movie enough to make a franchise about it…well, I’ve heard stupider things on this blog alone, so I guess I can’t be too surprised. But I mean honestly, THIS CRAP merited sequels??!?!

Whoops. Spoke too soon.

Director: David Schmoeller
Starring: Paul Le Mat, Irene Miracle

Yes, the infamous Puppet Master movies, and this is the big fat nucleus that started them all. Is it good? Nope. I could end the review right there actually, but hey, that wouldn’t get me any new readers. So I guess I’ll have to do the whole thing where I actually talk about the movie. As much as I don’t want to.

We start off with the opening credits which look like the rectal thermometer of many an art student’s portfolios. Or maybe just something Picasso would have painted on a bad day. A really, really bad day. Then we get some fake looking rocks and waves in more lighting that looks like it was taken from the early 60s color films, and that’s pretty much what we have to look forward to for this whole movie. Joy.

There’s this old man who apparently has a lot of fun making puppets that can inexplicably move on their own. Horrifying, or visionary and creative? I’m going with horrifying. We also see that one puppet runs around on his own outside and nobody notices or even questions it at all. How is that possible? Does everyone in this world have his or her neck just permanently tilted up so they can’t see this little thing? It’s not like he’s doing a particularly good job of it, either…it’s broad daylight and he’s running around in an open field.

Only one person notices him the entire time he's running around...either everyone in this world is really dumb or the director of the movie just is. I think I like the latter a little more.

And look at that thing! That’s so stupid I could make something better looking in 10 minutes with Play Doh. What is that; the animated feces of V for Vendetta?

So it’s revealed that these Nazi guys are coming for the old man, who starts to hide all of his puppets inside a safe. So what, the Nazis are after the puppets now? I know they have some sort of vague magical property to them, but seriously, don’t they have anything better to be doing with their time? I’m just not sure this is historically accurate. What was Hitler thinking at the time?

"But sir..."

So then we flash forward to the present day when we see one of the actors who is really really interested in what’s going on in this movie!

Get it? I was being sarcastic! But seriously, if the first we see of your character is him sleeping at his work place...not exactly the best way to get us excited about his adventures.

He has a dream that he has leeches on his stomach, wakes up, aaaaand that’s the end of that scene. Then we get some other scene with some psychic at a fair telling some people they’ll get married someday when she actually has a real vision – one of her getting attacked in a hallway somewhere. Apparently all of the main characters in this movie have some kind of psychic powers…or something. And they have nothing better to do with these powers but go play shitty games of Clue in mansions the filmmakers obviously didn’t have enough money to buy.

Seriously, this is like The Shining if it had puppets, which really doesn’t sound like a good idea to me. They wander around and exchange lifeless dialogue like they’re high on meth, which I guess you’d have to be to accept a script with THIS THING in it:

Well, I think that speaks for itself. What was it doing in the coffin with him again?

Yeah, apparently this dead guy had it in his will or whatever that all of these people come to the house after he died to, uh, socialize I guess…because that’s not weird…okay, I can’t pretend I’m interested in the flimsy plot; WHAT IS THAT THING? Why is the head so small? Did they just have so little money that they couldn’t buy enough clay to sculpt a bigger head? What the hell?! This movie is driving me crazy!

So yeah, then that carnival-psychic hack lady jams a pin into the dead body to make sure he isn’t really just faking his death – such good friends these idiots are; I’m so impressed! But hey, at least we have this moron making the same confused, directionless face over and over again in every single shot, because you know it’s real hard to direct your actors in a way that actually makes them look at all credible, right? You bunch of hacks.

I'm serious; this guy NEVER changes his expression through the whole movie. I'm pretty sure he was high on something the whole time.

But that’s not even the most warped, crack-addled thing in this movie; oh no. We still have this to contend with:


I…I just can’t…I can’t do this. You know, I’m tired. I’m real tired of stupid movies doing stupid things and not having any logic behind it…I mean, what is that? Who came up with that image? Who woke up in the morning, thought of that and was actually proud enough to write it down in a movie script? This is the epitome of asinine! It’s so stupid I can’t stand it! You could find more quality in a box of fungus samples. Is this really the kind of thing that got successful back in the late 80s? I mean it’s a PUPPET VOMITING LEECHES. HOW IS THAT IN ANY WAY WORTH PUTTING ON SCREEN? I…you…GAH!

Alright, alright, let’s just get this over with…so I guess that retard who apparently can’t change his facial expression gets woken up by the ex-girlfriend of the suicide guy who invited them all there. She drags him up to the attic or whatever while explaining to him that the puppets were re-animated by Egyptian black magic. Okay. Then they get up to the attic where there’s nothing but white space and a bad Phantom of the Opera rip-off that actually turns out to be…the dead friend who they came there to mourn over in the first place! BOM BOM BOM…that was supposed to be a dramatic sound effect…

Wow, I've never been so underwhelmed since...well, the last five minutes of this movie...

So yeah, he kills her, but then it turns out it was all a dream and silly-face guy wakes up in bed and finds some severed heads in his bed talking to him, because yeah, he’s perfectly sane.

And you thought The Godfather was harsh when they had one horse head in the guy's bed? Well Puppet Master just SHOWED THAT MOVIE WHAT'S WHAT.

Then we see exactly how starved for ideas this movie really is when it repeats VERBATUM the exact same scene from before where the ex-girlfriend wakes this guy up and makes him come with her upstairs – they seriously have the same conversation and everything, and being an idiot, the guy doesn’t try to stop her or anything either. Yeah, because helping someone not get killed would be a terrible idea! Is this really the best use of his psychic dream powers? He’s just gonna sit around and do nothing when he gets his visions? What an asshole.

So of course there isn’t REALLY a phantom of the opera wannabe up there; that would be too unrealistic, even for a movie that has walking murderous puppets everywhere. They go downstairs and find their dead friends seated around the dinner table!

What a surprise! We weren’t even prepared for company tonight, and now we find our favorite corpses have come to visit. I hope they’re all comfortable and treated perfectly well, and that life has done them kindness. Wait, what was I talking about here?

Anyway, crazy rich guy comes back to life and explains that although he committed suicide, he used magical powers to come back and be immortal forever. Does this sound like a hack work plot written by monkeys yet? Don’t look at me…I thought it was from the beginning of the movie. And he also turns on the puppets, because he doesn’t need them now that he’s fully immortal, I guess! You know, this whole movie could have easily been written without the puppets and it would have actually been a morsel more interesting…but hey, who am I to judge; here’s some pictures of a guy in a tuxedo fighting little puppets:

At times like this, I'm very sad for the mother and father of whoever green-lighted images like this. It's like, this is what all your hard work and child raising skills have amounted to. Are you proud, mom and dad?

So they kill the rich immortal guy and the movie ends…and thank God, because I couldn’t take any more of this crap. Puppet Master is the lowest of the low, the absolute in mediocrity. I haven't seen a more flat-out obnoxious, annoying, grating-on-my-last-nerve movie in a while. Everything about this thing is just painful in how banal and ridiculous it is; there's no quality to be found. The acting sucks, the directing sucks, the story sucks, it just all sucks - but hey, what else am I to expect from the same production company that gave us THIS about ten years down the road?

I rest my case.

All images copyright of their original owners. I do not own any of them.