There were key movies in my life that helped to make me who I am today. Movies that I have loved from the moment the opening credit rolled and still love now. This blog series is about those, My guilty pleasures, my favorites, my escapes. Some were very popular, others not so much. Some of these will have some real life take-aways, others are just for fun.
Today we venture into the revival of the Puppet Master franchise with the 1998 release of Curse of the Puppet Master.
Today’s Key Movie:
Sometime after the events of Puppet Master 5, the puppets have found themselves as part of a doll museum under the control of a Dr Magrew. Magrew, having discovered Toulon’s secret, attempts to make his own puppets while a gang of thugs attempt to hurt him and his daughter. The Puppets, of course, get involved and things take a turn for the worse. Starring George Peck, Emily Harrison and Josh Green, this is Curse of the Puppet Master.
Why this movie?
After the rather horrendous sequel that was Puppet Master 5, it looks as though the adventures of the Miniature Murderers was over. However, like anything that can be brought back to life, the franchise returned in 1998 with a vengeance and, of course, I was there ready for another instalment of the classic direct-to-video series.
I remember finding the VHS case on the sales floor and being quite excited that they had brought back Puppet Master for one more ride. While I have to admit I was probably a little nervous that it wouldn’t be any good based on the previous entry, I remember taking this one home and fining a film that brought the franchise back to it’s core. Curse of Puppet Master takes the story to a new place, giving us a deeper understanding of the secret of Toulon’s puppetry and the darkness that surrounds them. Much like the previous films, the Puppets are still innocent beings that only react out of fear and necessity, they only kill when threatened or when those under their protection are. However, again like in the past instalments, this film explores the temptation of this power evoking it’s title in every way, Toulon’s secret is in and of itself a curse, one that is too tempting to resist.
You like it, but is it really a ‘good’ movie?
There is no denying that Curse of the Puppet Master is a low budget horror film, but, it is abundantly clear that Producer Charles Band and Director David DeCoteau had a passion for the Puppet Master story and wanted to bring it back to its tonal roots. The problem is, it seems that much of the film is heavily borrowed from a 1973 horror entitled Ssssss which used Snakes instead of puppets but followed a nearly identical story line. That being said, Curse does a good job adapting this story as its own using the premise to explore Toulon’s experiments in a new way.
Much like many of it’s predecessors, Curse is a slow build but, with the solid story coupled with the tremendous practical effects this franchise is known for, the slow pace has a great payoff that literally takes Toulon’s puppet magic to the next level. I won’t spoil it here for you completely but, it’s a really insane moment that you will surly not forget.
Cast wise, while no one in this film would be up for an Oscar nod, every does a great job in their roles never falling too deeply into melodrama which they could have easily done. While Toulon himself is not in this film, the character that fills his shows is Dr Magrew played by George Peck. While Peck didn’t have a ton of credits to his name, his presence is not unlike that of Julian Sands and Anthony Perkins rolled into one. He plays the creepy, sadistic mad scientist to a tee and I wish we had seen him in a lot more outside of short films and indie features. The rest of the cast is great but it’s Peck that steals the show every time he is on screen.
There is something that is never really explained though, somehow, despite being burned to a crisp in Part 2, Leach Woman makes her miraculous return in this film as if she never left. Also, it is interesting to note that Decapitron, who was instrumental in the previous two films, is no where to be seen. How Leach Woman came back unscathed and what befell Decapitron is sadly never explored leaving these particular mysteries unanswered.
Overall, Curse of the Puppet Master is a classic B-Horror through and through. While it might be a low budget entry, it plays to its strengths in every way giving the franchise a great stand alone story that is well worth your time. What I didn’t realize then was that this would essentially be a second chance for the Puppet Master franchise, allowing it to continue on even to this day. Somehow, I lost track of the series after this particular release so, I am pretty excited to explore the other films with you as we go.
OK, where do I get this movie?
You really cant go wrong with this one and, like the rest of the franchise, you can watch it on the Full Moon Channel on Amazon Prime or just buy a copy here. Either way, this is some quality B-Horror that you really don’t want to miss.
Next week we go into unknown territory for me with Retro Puppet Master, until then…
Late To The Game 9/16/2021
If you would like to read more reviews please check out the rest of the Key Movies Of My Life that comes out every Thursday.
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