Puppet Master (1989)

puppet master poster 1989 movie
6.0 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 4/10
Visuals: 7/10

The puppets are fun

Poor acting and script

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Puppet Master

Studio:  Full Moon Productions

Genre(s):  Horror/B-Movie

Release Date(s):  October 12, 1989

MPAA Rating:  R


Oh my sweet little toys of death…

A group of psychics is summoned to an isolated, abandoned hotel in Bodega Bay, California by one of their members named Neil (Jimmie F. Skaggs).  When they arrive they learn from Neil’s wife Megan (Robin Frates) that Neil is dead.  The members of the group question if Neil managed to discover the secret of Andre Toulon (William Hickey) who was allegedly the last of a group of magicians who learned the ancient art of resurrection and reanimation.  One-by-one, members of the group are being attacked by strange small living puppets…as Megan and Alex (Paul Le Mat) search for the truth, who is the Puppet Master?

Directed by David Schmoeller, Puppet Master (sometimes known by the one-word title Puppetmaster) was originally intended for the theater but became a direct-to-video movie in October 12, 1989.  This started a long string of Puppet Master movies by Full Moon Productions and Puppet Master probably would be considered the company’s flagship series.


Oh yeah, puppet action…wait, what?

The plot of the movie isn’t the greatest and the actors are rather bland.  The movie constantly reminds the viewers that it is a low budget movie.  This is unfortunate because even with its low standards, there is something kind of fun about it.  I can remember picking up all sorts of Full Moon films in college just because you could get something different every week with their multiple productions and Puppet Master was probably the best line.

The reason Puppet Master does work is that the puppets are rather fun and sometimes they are creepy.  Movies like Dolls and even The Trilogy of Terror recognize that dolls can be creepy as hell.  I felt Dolls wasn’t creepy enough, and Puppet Master also isn’t creepy enough but it takes a step in a better direction by having a bit better plot (check out Trilogy of Terror for a doll that does get scary).


Tunneler…I think I’ll miss you most of all.

Another issue with Puppet Master films is that they never seem to quite match up right.  This movie has Andre Toulan living in Bodega Bay (setting of The Birds) before the war and he seems like an ok guy…Puppet Master II casts Toulan as a villain…the third film has him battling the Nazis in World War II, and so on and so on.  Sometimes Toulan has puppets that he created in previous films, and other times he does not.  It is not shocking that inconsistencies exist with these films, but it seems like such a small thing to work to line up the plots a little.

Puppet Master holds a soft spot for me just because of memories of watching them all.  It was the heyday of straight-to-video VHS and Full Moon was leading the way (yep, I even sent away for a Full Moon fan-club membership).  With extremely affordable prices, it is still worth picking up Puppet Master and its sequels (and yes, one of the sequels is probably the best in the series).

Followed By:

Puppet Master II (1991)

Puppet Master III:  Toulon’s Revenge (1991)

Puppet Master 4 (1993)

Puppet Master 5:  The Final Chapter (1994)

Curse of the Puppet Master (1998)

Retro Puppet Master (1999)

Puppet Master:  The Legacy (2003)

Puppet Master:  Axis of Evil (2010)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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