Puppetmaster (1989) Review: Great Idea, Poor Execution

“Killers Come in All Sizes”

Synopsis: Psychics find themselves plotted against by a former colleague, who committed suicide after discovering animated, murderous puppets.

Puppetmaster (1989) Review Poster
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Calamity Brains:

Puppetmaster has a very interesting story, but is unfortunately very lacking in execution. It begins with an overly long introduction setting up a character who dies, and only gets worse from there. The setup for the relevant plot points also comes far too late in the movie. Though I’m generally a fan of horror flicks keeping me guessing or having surprise endings, in this case, the audience received too little information to even guess at the plot until about halfway through. The script is just far too shaky to pull off the murder mystery-esque story, which is a shame.

The acting, cinematography, and music are all mediocre at best – no high quality work here. The only place Puppetmaster really shines is in the practical effects and marionettes. Those look excellent, and most of them have their own creepy characteristics which makes them surprisingly effective as horror objects. Unfortunately, despite the title of the film, the puppets are in very little of the movie. Their infrequent presence is just not enough to save what ends up being an overly slow reveal of a not-particularly-complex story.

I’m generally pretty open-minded about the possessed objects subgenre (Child’s Play is one of my favorite horror franchises), but Puppetmaster just didn’t work. I’m still not sure how it spawned so many sequels. As much as I liked the idea behind them, I found very little in the first movie that at all encouraged me to watch the later ones. If you’re looking to be creeped out by possessed objects, you’re better off going for a less boring option. If you’re determined, well, maybe try our drinking game.

Calamity Brains’ Rating: C-
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Calamity Brains

The Codex Mortis Horror Hosts (Ludwig von Stroodle and Calamity Brains) are married and live in West Virginia. Pretty much everyone who sees their cabin agrees that it would be an ideal setting for a horror movie. Their pets include a black widow spider, a smart dog, and a stupid dog. When they aren’t watching horror movies, they can be found at whiskey festivals, Renaissance fairs, and board game nights.