*I first wrote this for Guts and Grog back in 2012 for Eric's "Horror With Training Wheels" Event . . .
Evil Comes In All Sizes (My love for the "Puppet Master" series!)
When Eric first asked me to contribute to the "Horror With Training Wheels" Week here at the G&G I had a dilemma about remembering what some of my favorite kid friendly horror movies were growing up. Of course there was "The Monster Squad", "The Gate" and also that Joey Lawrence film "Pulse"; but at the age of 9 I already had a taste for Slashers and Gore!
Also being a child of the 80s and an only child at that, I spent a lot of time playing with Toys! The Turtles, G.I. Joes, and Hasbro WWF Figures occupied most of my time while I lived in Wildwoon, NJ where my family had a Summer Shore House that we would spend the season at. But there was one such movie that brought my love of Horror Movies and Toys together and that was "Puppet Master 2"!
I never even seen the first Puppet Master when I learned of the existence of this sequel or knew what a direct-to-video meant, but while vacationing in Wildwood I remember laying my eyes on the glorious VHS box cover for P.M.2 at a Mom and Pop Video Store for the first time and couldn't wait to get the word out to my friends about these movies when I got back to Philly!
Besides my family not owning a VCR until the Mid-90s (that's a story for another time), my Mom would never allow me to view anything that was to ghastly in her opinion, so I was still a few years away from seeing any of Freddy and Jason's latest killing sprees . . . but luckily I had friend who lived right next door to me who's Mother was a "Cool Mom" who would pretty much rent any movie we asked her too!
When I returned home, I remembered the P.M. 2 box and I had to know who the puppet with the fire weapon was and also what kind of mayhem these Puppets would unleash on those that crossed their paths. Needless to say after finding and watching P.M 1 and 2 back-to-back I was not left disappointed, I loved the premise of a Killer Doll already from seeing the first two "Child's Play" movies but this was even better in my opinion cause there were multiple killers! The puppet "Blade" who was always forefront and acted as the leader of the gang was favorite, not only because of the way he killed his prey throughout the movie but also for his keen fashion sense and the way his tips his hat as a way to convey his message!
These two movies helped me become a fan of Charles Band over night, besides the first two "Ghoulies" films, I was unfamiliar with Band's previous work with Wizard Video and Empire Pictures up to that point, but because of Puppet Master I always made an effort to rent any movie I seen at the video store with the Full Moon Logo on the Box from that point on!
Movies such as "Bad Channels", "Shrunken Heads" plus the Tim Thomerson staring films "Trancers" & "Dollman" were some of my favorite guilty pleasure while still in my preteens, but the Puppet Master Series always reigned supreme over all of them!
Some how when the third movie came out I was able to convince my Father to rent it off of pay-per-view when it available for the day, btw this was when our cable company would run one movie a day for 24 Hours and if you missed it oh well. I think this was when I truly fell in love with the series, as said up top my favorite puppet up to that point was Blade (and it still is), but without him showing up until the very end it gave me a much bigger appreciation for the other puppets in the gang and also the newly added Six Shooter. Finally getting more of the back story to who Andre Toulon was and the World War 2 setting made for the best movie in the series and it still hold up to this day! (I watched it right before I started working on this post!).
When Part 4 & 5 came out my family finally had a VCR and my Mom became a lot more lenient in allowing me to rent certain Horror Films, I think when those two films came along I was just getting into more legit movies and comedies. I loved that they made the Puppets fully Good guys in these two films cause I was already rooting for then any way, but I didn't know at the time that this was pretty much the last hurrah for the Puppet Master Series for quite while!
|Actual drawing by me when I was 12 Years Old . . .|
While in High School I remember grabbing the latest issue of Fangoria and became even more excited by that particular issue's back cover . . . it was an ad for "Curse of the Puppet Master"
I had so many questions when the fuck was this coming out and have the puppets turned evil once again?
Sadly I found out when my local Blockbusters got a single copy in the summer of 1998, everything about this movie felt cheap and lame. I know all the previous films were low budget but they worked and this just felt like the magic of Andre Tolon was gone forever! But I also wonder maybe if the problem had to do with myself since I was older now!
When I was in the 11th Grade I remember having to write 3 letters in my English Class to 3 "Famous" People . . . I wrote one letter to my favorite Football Player John Elway, the second to WWF Wrestler Ahmed Johnson, and the third letter to Charles Band. From Elway I got a Facsimile Signature Mini Poster and from Band I actually got a letter back! I told him how much of a fan I was of Puppet Master films but was let down with the 6th one, and in true Ed Wood fashion he promised me the next one wold be better!
In case you were wondering I never heard back from Ahmed, then again the way he use to butcher the English language as seen in this video. I wasn't really surprised! Total MushMouth!!!
Well Mr. Band was wrong cause the following sequel "Retro" didn't help matters any cause I thought it was boring and even worse missed the puppets I actually fell in love with! All was well though because also around this time a line of toys were coming out and I didn't care about how old I was cause I felt like I waited my whole life to own these figures!
I was excited to display these on my computer desk just like I was Rick Myers!
Besides the Toys the last of the Puppet Master merchandise I remember picking up while I was still a teen was the DVD Boxset that was highly coveted until the movies stated to make their ways into the Wal-mart $5 Bin as of late . . .I got this bad boy at an HMV in Philly when their store was still around in the the city, I remember it being marked down to $75 and while that was a lot of money for me at the time I knew it was also a great deal since the thing was also getting recalled from stores!
Over the years my love for the first 5 Puppet Master movies has always remained strong, but my feeling for Full Moon in general are a thing of the past. Later offerings such as "Killer Bong", "Blood Dolls", "SideShow" and "Killjoy" has left little to be desired and the less said the better. The only films I can recall liking since the late 90s till now were the Zombie movie "The Dead Hate the Living!" (which originally was going to be a Thanksgiving Themed Zombie filmed named "The Dead Hate Thanksgiving") and the Gingerdead Man!
But you truly can't keep a good puppet or Charles Band down cause The Puppet Master series has seen a resurgence as a late with 2010's "Axis of Evil" and the just released "Axis Rising". I have yet to seen "Rising", but I appreciated Axis of Evil for once again taking place during WW2 and fighting Nazis and love that the newest one has them fighting other puppets!Plus all the old movies are starting to show up on Blu-ray . . . I really do need to see P.M. 3 in Widescreen!
Well that's all for now hope you enjoyed this post of me sharing some of my found "Full Moon" memories from childhood and can't wait to read the rest of the postings here as part of ""Horror with Training Wheels" Week!" Thanks again Eric for allowing me to be part of it!
- Tom Bryce
Tom runs Shit Movie Fest which is a Blogand Facebook Page based off a monthly "Bad Movie Party" he does with his friends in Philadelphia! The first SMF Party was no different than what him and his friend Chris were doing since they met in High School back in the 90s when they would watch a few movies and trash them, but over time SMF has continued to grow in both attendance and support from friends new and old!