The Puppet Masters (1994)

puppet masters poster 1994 movie
4.0 Overall Score
Story : 4/10
Acting: 4/10
Visuals: 4/10

Invasion paranoia

Dull sci-fi fantasy

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Puppet Masters

Studio:  Hollywood Pictures

Genre(s):  Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror

Release Date(s):  October 21, 1994

MPAA Rating:  R


You’re telling me we’re having a hard time telling if one of these things is on someone’s back?

Something has landed in a small country town.  Andrew Nivens (Donald Sutherland) and his team made up of his estranged son Sam (Eric Thal) and Mary Sefton (Julie Warner) are out to investigate the UFO.  What they discover is a hive-type race that grafts itself onto the backs of the victims and controls them.  The alien entity spreads like a virus and could quickly threaten the world…unless they are stopped quickly!

Directed by Stuart Orme, The Puppet Masters adapts the famous science fiction novel by Robert Heinlein released in 1951.  The movie faced difficulty reaching the screen and underwent many rewrites.  The movie did poorly at the box office and was met with mostly negative reviews.


Being possessed by an alien makes me sweaty

I never read the original Heinlein story but I know that the movie was often cited as the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers which had a very similar plot when it was released later.  This story did deviate from the original plot, but you will find it very derivative of almost every sci-fi invasion film you’ve ever seen (plus TV).

The story (as it is presented) doesn’t make much sense.  The invading aliens latch on to people’s backs and control them from a queenlike source.  The people rig up a complex heat sensing and constantly tell people to take off their shirts…if the invasion is as deadly as it claims to be, just have male soldiers not wear shirts or feel their back…it is a giant alien slug and not that complex a problem!!!


Being possessed by aliens is fun!!!

The cast is all rather generic and banks on the “star power” of Donald Sutherland.  The characters seem very stiff and alien already so I can see how it could be difficult to tell if there really was an alien attached to their back.  In addition to Sutherland and the primary cast there are appearances by Richard Belzer and Marshall Bell stock characters…who of course get possessed.

The effects and entire look of the film is rather poor.  The slugs are goofy and poorly designed (at least in 1994 they didn’t attempt a really bad computer generated slug).  The film really doesn’t feel like it exceeds above television (like an X-Files episode) or something like a Syfy channel movie.

The Puppet Masters might have been a good film, but this presentation isn’t good.  I can see Hollywood returning to this original source now that it is mostly bankrupt for new ideas, but it could actually improve it.  If you want to watch an alien invasion film watch any version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers instead of this…it might be the original, but the film is a pale second.

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.

Leave A Response