Curse of the Puppet Master

03/30/2019 11:25

Film: Curse of the Puppet Master

Year: 1998

Director: David DeCoteau

Writer: Neal Marshall Stevens

Starring: George Peck, Emily Harrison and Josh Green



This was a film that I remember watching when it came out as it always seemed to be on the movie channels. When I wanted to see something horror, this one was on so I did see it quite a bit growing up as well. Even back then I knew this wasn’t that good, but I digress. The synopsis is a scientist attempts to master the art of the transferring people’s souls into puppets.

Now I do apologize for the synopsis kind of spoiling the film, but to be honest, this film isn’t that complex and you’ve seen films in the series you also know kind of what is happening already.

We kick this off with Dr. Magrew (George Peck) as he fleeing his home with something under his arm. He sets it on fire and we kind of hear something screaming.

Dr. Magrew runs a local house of marvels. His daughter, Jane (Emily Harrison) is home from college. She helps out when she is there. They head into town where they go to the local gas station. Before they arrive, Robert ‘Tank’ Winsley (Josh Green) is working a wood carving. He is bullied by a guy in a nice car, Joey Carp (Michael Guerin). Dr. Magrew and Jane step in. It is afterwards they see his talent and offer him a job.

He will also live with them and there he is introduced to the group of puppets from previous films. Dr. Magrew bought them at an auction and has befriended them. The ones that are in this film are Blade, Jester, Leach Woman, Pinhead, Six-Shooter and Tunneler. They kind of freak out Tank, but he sees they are friendly.

Dr. Magrew asks Tank to carve the wood he has to make a puppet for him. He wants to him to put everything into it to make it live. The problem is his previous assistant is missing. Jane asks about him and Dr. Magrew just says he left. The local sheriff, Garvey (Robert Donavan), also checks on him and gets the same thing.

We see that he might not be as nice a guy as he appears. He uses the puppets to get revenge for wrongs done to him and his family, but he also has a nefarious plan with Tank and with what happened to his previous assistant.

As I like to do when I’m reviewing films, I try to start with the positive. I think this film has a solid story. It is nice that they decided to go with something new and away from the story that had previously as I do think that one played itself out. I’m not completely sure where this falls in the timeline, so I’m going to assume that it is after 5. That will lead into issues that I’ll talk about later.

I do think this film does well with keeping with the concept that all of the puppets have a soul in them. I like the mad scientist angle that Dr. Magrew wants to cement his legacy. I was a little disappointed to see that this film really just stole its story from Sssssss, a film I haven’t seen at the time of writing this, but I did read the synopsis. I can’t fault a film too much for doing things like that, as we see a ton of remakes and there are not a lot of original horror films that come out either.

Now I have to make to the issues with continuity. The first of which is that Leech Woman and Tunneler shouldn’t be here. They both died in the second film. This film doesn’t show the liquid that is used to revive the puppets which is fine. I have alluded to earlier that it does have the souls of people need to be in the puppet so I’ll give it credit there. There is another issue with Jester in the film. They changed his hat for this film and it looks stupid. I’ll get into more with it shortly, but his hat changes between one from the past to this one and it comes from laziness of Full Moon productions. Another issue I have is the final product of the puppet that Tank is making. He is carving wood, but the puppet me makes is completely made of metal. It doesn’t look great either, but it doesn’t make sense and really is jarring.

Pacing for this film isn’t too bad though. It has a short 90 minute running time, which moves through things at a good pace. The problem though is the lacking of building tension. The film establishes what is going to be happening in this film, but we wait too long until we get the first death. They all happen really close together, which tries to make up. The problem is that I really didn’t connect with the characters enough to care so the film just kind of plays out in front of us and I really don’t get excited.

Another part of this issue is with the acting. Peck I actually think is good. He comes off as a good guy, but we see there is a darker aspect to him even from the start. I saw an interview on Videozone where he stated he wanted to play it like Bela Lugosi from the Universal films, which I can see that. Harrison I think had misstep playing the role a little too sexualized. Don’t get me wrong, she isn’t overboard by any stretch, but she is trying to come off as innocent and I think she took her darker side a little bit too far. Green I thought was fine in his role, but we really just don’t get much from him. He’s supposed to be simple so it fits. The rest of the cast wasn’t great and there was quite a bit overacting. I will say that the death scenes were solid for their acting, which was a bright spot.

Now to something that really disappointed me, the effects of the film. This is the first one that David Allen wasn’t doing the effects and you can tell. The blood and gore that we get is actually really good. I have no problems there. A reveal at the end for a different puppet looked great as well. It was quite creepy. The problem though is that the puppets aren’t stop motion anymore. They aren’t CGI, which is good. They instead just recycled old footage which really made me mad. This is why Jester’s hat changed. The good effects we got were definitely overshadowed.

I did want to also touch on the soundtrack of the film. They used the Puppet Master theme during the opening credits and at least once during the film, which I will continue to say is that I love that song. The rest of the score really didn’t stand out to me, but it also didn’t hurt the film in my opinion.

Now with that said, this film could have better than what we got and it is disappointing. I like that they decided to go a new route with the story, even though it was stolen from a different film. I even think that the film is edited well, but the problem is that it doesn’t build tension. The continuity problems are a big issue for me for this film and series. The acting is decent. There’s some good blood and gore, but the reusing old puppet footage was frustrating. I liked the use of the main theme, but the rest of the soundtrack didn’t stand out. This film I would only recommend if you like the series, but I would avoid it if you’re looking for a good one. This is definitely below average.


My Rating: 4 out of 10