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Puppet Master (1989)

'Puppet Master' is a franchise I have been aware of for as long as I can remember, and with good reason I have avoided it for just as long. This is not due to any fear or phobia of puppets and dolls, it's more based on the fact that these films, from what I had seen, look dreadful. After years of putting these off, it didn't take long for me to realise that my intuition was correct. From the opening moments when we first see a small stop-motion animation puppet with a respiratory system heavily breathing on screen... I knew this film wasn't going to be for me. The puppets themselves are the least intimidating villains I've witnessed in any horror, and I say that as a man who prides himself in seeking out bad horror films. The stop-motion animation that goes into displaying the movement and interactions of the puppets is some of the weakest I have seen. Using terrible editing to combine these stop-motion effects with normal footage only highlights how low quality the special effects on this production were. Even something as simple as maintaining a consistent size and scale of the puppets from scene to scene was a challenge for this team. The cast of characters we follow throughout the course of this film are some of the most insufferable I have come across on screen. Having your main focal characters this unlikeable makes it very difficult to invest in any one particular person, or for us to want for any of them to make it through to the end. The acting capability of them all is collectively is incomprehensible. The most convincing and well recognisable actor here is Jimmie F. Skaggs, and even his role is to play a motionless corpse for 90 percent of the run time. If I'm being completely honest I really don't know what happened in this film. I'm unsure of the overall plot, how these characters interconnected and and the overall true intention of the puppets and their origin. Considering the film is about a group of killer puppets, they are not the main focus of this film. Instead, we spend at least two thirds of the film with a collection of characters with various degrees of psychic ability (a concept I struggle to digest at the best of times, let alone in something as poorly constructed as this) that seem completely irrelevant to everything else going on around them. Other than the use of some so-bad-it's-good stop-motion animation for the puppets and the all to brief use of practical effects we see scattered throughout, I just can't understand how the film has gone on to spawn one sequel, let alone the 15 total films the franchise holds to-date. This is a film that sounds far superior on paper than in actual execution. Although I am curious about the sequels, I think it's going to take some time before I work up the courage to sit down for another installment of the 'Puppet Master' franchise.



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