Retro Puppet Master (1999)

retro puppet master poster 1999 movie
3.0 Overall Score
Story: 3/10
Acting: 3/10
Visuals: 3/10

Still kind of like the puppets

Bad story, bad acting, so-so visuals

Movie Info

Movie Name: Retro Puppet Master

Studio: Full Moon Pictures

Genre(s): Horror/B-Movie

Release Date(s): November 9, 1999

MPAA Rating: PG-13

retro puppet master cyclops drill sergeant six shooter

We’re like the original puppets and though we are supposed to look crappier we kind of look cooler

Hiding in Switzerland in 1944, André Toulon (Guy Rolfe) and his puppets try to evade the Nazis who are after them.  The discovery of an old puppet named Cyclops leads to Toulon telling the story of how he first learned the art of animation from a man named Afzel (Jack Donner) who stole it from the followers of an Egyptian god named Sutekh.  Toulon (Greg Sestero) found himself trapped in a battle to avenge his friends and evade the servants of Sutekh sent to reclaim the formula.

Directed by David DeCoteau (under the name of Joseph Tennent), Retro Puppet Master is a low-budget horror film.  The seventh film in the franchise, the movie follows Curse of the Puppet Master from 1998, but it serves as a prequel to Puppet Master III:  Toulon’s Revenge from 1991.  The movie was released straight-to-video and met with negative reviews.

It is hard to sugar coat it, but Full Moon Entertainment movies are generally pretty bad.  Rushed out at rocket speed, the studio released movies quickly, and Puppet Master was probably their most successful franchise.  Despite being pretty awful, I loved Full Moon movies and they were a staple of college since you could almost always find a new one to watch every weekend.  I was already out of college when Retro Puppet Master was released, and I was also (largely) out of my Full Moon phase.

retro puppet master mummies

Yeah…We’re Dark City rejects. Got a problem with that?

When watching a Full Moon movie you have to kind of give up and give in.  The story is often rehashed and watching movies like Puppet Master back-to-back means seeing scenes repeated and chopped up.  There isn’t a ton of rehash in Retro Puppet Master, but like most of the Puppet Master movies, the stories don’t quite fit together.  Here, you have Toulon learning the formula from a man while performing in Paris, different puppets existing at different times, and a very ho-hum science fiction-ish story about reanimated mummies being sent to reclaim the formula…and the movie kind of just ends with little resolution or fanfare.

The movie is the final picture of Guy Rolfe who had a long career and ended it with a number of B-Movies.  He appeared as the Puppet Master in multiple entries and has a short role here.  The younger Toulon is played by Greg Sestero who rose to fame in the notorious film The Room playing Mark (aka “Hi, Mark”).  In some ways Retro Puppet Master can be credited as “inspiring” The Room in that Tommy Wiseau wrote The Room while trying to fill time as Sestero shot Retro Puppet Master.

retro puppet master dr death

Dr. Death will see you now

Full Moon movies are notoriously cheap, and Retro Puppet Master is no exception.  The biggest part of the budget was probably involved in creating the “retro” versions of the puppets which are kind of fun if you are familiar with the original versions of the characters…the rest of the movie however feels like tons of cheap sets and poor visuals.

Retro Puppet Master is only for those with strong wills who can tolerate the blandness and the badness of Full Moon movies.  The movie provides nothing really new for the Puppet Master franchise and feels like it even sets up a Retro Puppet Master II (which didn’t happen).  With a PG-13 rating, it doesn’t even have the gore or nudity for which an R-Rated movie might have benefitted.  Retro Puppet Master was followed by Puppet Master:  The Legacy in 2003.

Related Links:

Puppet Master (1989)

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)

Puppet Master:  The Legacy (2003)

Puppet Master:  Axis of Evil (2010)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @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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