Sunday, October 24, 2010

Horror Movie Review: Puppet Master

Puppet Master

Starring: Paul Le Mat, Irene Miracle, Jimmie F. Skaggs, Robin Frates, Matt Roe, and Kathryn O'Reilly

Directed by: David Schmoeller

Written by: Charles Band, Kenneth J. Hall, and David Schmoeller

Production Companies: Empire Productions and Full Moon Entertainment

Release Date: October 12, 1989

When I think of Puppet Master, I think of a classic horror film, so when I was researching this gem I was surprised it only came out in 1989. That's 21 years old now, but it had only been out about 5 years old when I first saw it and I thought it was 10 years old then. So I thought maybe the effects were better than I remembered. They weren't. Not to say they were bad, but the puppets, with their stop motion movement, weren't very well blended with the actual actors. It was probably pretty good effects for the time, but Puppet Master gave me the feeling of something like Phantasm which came out in 1979.

Puppet Master is about a group of psychics with various psychic abilities who gather together in response to the death of one of their psychic friends, Neil Gallagher. He had been in search of the secrets of Andre Toulon, the Puppet Master, who was able to create living puppets.

Shortly after arriving in the Bodega Bay Inn where Toulon killed himself to keep his secrets and his puppets away from Nazis, the psychics start getting attacked and killed by puppets. Our protagonist, Alex, and Megan, Neil Gallagher's wife, must find out what is going on before they are killed.

It's an interesting, if straightforward, tale which strains for mystery but doesn't quite get there. Alex, who can dream the future, has some interesting, psychedelic dream sequences, and the all of the characters except Alex are interesting. Alex is a bit bland. Megan's a bit generic, but fills her role adequately. Dana, the White Witch, is fascinating, Frank, the seeming leader of the group, is as sleazy as they come, and Carlissa, who gets psychic impressions off of objects, particularly erotic energy, well, she should have gotten her own movie...It'd be at least soft core porn, but there are plenty of soft core horror porn movies...It would have worked...

Anyway, the real stars of the show are the puppets: Blade, the leader; Pinhead, the muscle; the sadistic Tunneler; the comic relief, Jester; and the strangely attractive Leech Woman.

It's a fun movie and with some interesting characters, half of whom aren't even live actors.

Related Trailers

Inferno - Irene Miracle, who plays Dana, the White Witch, also stars in Inferno. Semi-sequal to 'Suspiria' has a American college student in Rome, and his sister in New York investigating a series of killings in both locations where their resident addresses are the domain of two covens of witches.

Hollow Man
- Jimmie F. Skaggs, who played Neil Gallagher, also appeared in Hollow Man. Scientists discover how to make people invisible, but their test subject becomes an insane killer who stalks them.

Man's Best Friend - Robin Frakes, who plays Megan Gallagher, also appears in Man's Best Friend. A dog turns from man's best friend into man's worst nightmare as he attacks everything that moves.

Child's Play 2 - Matt Roe , who plays the sleazy Frank, also appears in Child's Play 2. Chuckie's back as the doll possessed by the soul of a serial killer, butchering all who stand in his way of possessing the body of a boy.

Jack's Back - Kathryn O'Reilly also appears in Jack's Back. A serial killer in Los Angeles celebrates Jack the Ripper's 100th birthday by committing similar murders.

Tourist Trap - Director David Schmoeller also directed Tourist Trap. A group of young friends stranded at a secluded roadside museum are stalked by the owner of the place, who has the power to control his collection of mannequins.

Demonic Toys - Writer Charles Band also wrote Demonic Toys. A policewoman, her quarry and an innocent delivery boy become trapped in a haunted toy warehouse.

Clown at Midnight - Writer Kenneth J. Hall also wrote Clown at Midnight. Seven teenagers are stalked by a murderous clown while refurbishing an old opera house.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Horror Movie Review: Kill Theory

Kill Theory

Starring: Agnes Bruckner, Patrick John Fleuger, Taryn Manning, Teddy Dunn, Ryanne Duzich, Daniel Franzese, and Kevin Gage

Directed by: Chris Moore

Written by: Kelly C. Palmer

Production Companies: BenderSpink, Cross River Pictures, Element Films, Last Resort Productions, and Lift Films

Release Date: May 14, 2008

When a group of college almost graduates take a trip to one of their vacation houses, a last celebratory party before graduation turns into the last celebration...of their lives. A psychopath targets them with a challenge: Kill each other and the one survivor can leave, or everyone dies.

This is one of those great "What If..." concepts where part of the enjoyment is thinking. "What would I do? Which character would I most likely be?"

But the execution of the film is solid as well. The acting is pretty decent, the tension strong, and while there's not a whole lot of jumps, it is still filled with dramatic horror.

Some of the characters are annoying, but then that's true about any group of college kids. One problem was there were too many characters and it was difficult for me to keep track of who was whom, including the pairings because there were 3 couples plus a couple of extras. 4 guys and 4 girls total.

The killer is one worthy of a sequel, though a bit reminiscent of Jigsaw from The Saw Series. He communicates via tape and sets traps, although not in a confined room like Jigsaw, but traps preventing the college victims from escaping.

Some of the film is shocking, going against your expectations, and the gore is pretty decent, especially as the kids hope gets strained and they start turning on one another. It's almost impossible to tell who is going to get killed and when. And the ending, tying everything together with the big reveal puts the cherry on top.

A solid straight to video horror which, if they created a sequel, I wouldn't roll my eyes at it. It's definitely worth a watch.

Related Trailers

Vacancy 2: The First Cut - Agnes Bruckner, who plays Jennifer, also stars in Vacancy 2: The First Cut. Three young people check into the Meadow View Inn for a night's rest, fully unaware of the inn's sick-minded employees and their nefarious intentions.

The Devil's Tomb - Taryn Manning, who plays Alex, also stars in The Devil's Tomb. An elite group of soldiers on a covert mission to retrieve a scientist from an underground lab encounter an ancient evil in the facility.

I Spit on Your Grave - Daniel Franzese, who played Freddy, also appears in I Spit on Your Grave. A writer who is brutalized during her cabin retreat seeks revenge on her attackers, who left her for dead.

Laid to Rest - Kevin Gage, the Killer, also stars in Laid to Rest . A terrifying story of a young girl who wakes up in a casket with a traumatic head injury and no memory of her identity. She quickly realizes she was abducted by a Deranged Serial Murderer and in an isolated rural town she must survive the night and outsmart the technologically inclined killer who is hellbent on finishing what he started.