Puppet Master (1989)

Genre: Horror

Cast: Paul Le Mat, Irene Miracle, Matt Roe

Synopsis: A group of psychics all go to a hotel because they have visions of themselves getting killed there…absolutely retarded, I know. Anyway there are a bunch of killer puppets running loose in the hotel.

Puppet Master is an odd little 80s horror movie…I say odd mainly because it isn’t scary in the slightest. Even the concept isn’t scary. Right from the start of we know who/what the killers are. As such, there is no subtlety to the film. However, the movie has an overall quirkiness which kind of works and it’s not hard to see why this film has a cult following which led to the spawning of nine sequels.

Let’s start by talking about the actors: who the fuck are these people? I had no idea who any of the actors were and, to be frank, I can see why I’d never heard of any of them because they weren’t that great. Don’t get me wrong, they were fun to watch but not because they were good. The lead actor was an unusual choice because he came across as bumbling and dumpy. On top of that he was completely useless. I don’t think he actually did anything in the entire movie except wander around aimlessly and get pointless visions. Another unusual choice was the casting of Kathryn O’Reilly as some kind of ‘sexy scientist.’ I assume they picked her up at some sort of escort agency because they were one actress down. Every facial expression she gives attempts to convey some sort of subtle emotion but it usually flounders and finds its way into the ‘maybe if I squint and pout a lot that’ll look like emotion’ territory. Also, there’s some sort of mentally handicapped maid running around but more on her later.

The puppets themselves are perhaps the least threatening or intimidating killers I’ve ever seen in a movie. Why don’t these psychics just kick the little bastards? For that matter, why the fuck are they even in the hotel? If you had visions of your death, would you really go to the location you were supposed to die to find out why? The psychics are complete morons. Not only are their deaths completely avoidable but they don’t even put up a fights against the wooden doll killers. Good thing they died or else I’d hunt them down and give them a well-placed pimp-slap.

As I said previously, this movie is not scary. Admittedly, I was in an unusual position which most viewers won’t be in. The external shots of the hotel are of Castle Green in Pasadena which is this beautiful, historic, and kind of creepy looking hotel that I am going to get married in one day. The wedding theme will be The Shining. I don’t know how that will work as of yet but I’ll figure it out somehow. Sometimes I get the craziest/stupidest ideas after smoking. At any rate, I started planning my fictional wedding so I was kind of distracted. If you actually want to get scared then maybe don’t start planning your dream wedding during this movie.


  • “Let’s check he’s dead” *shanks corpse with a hat pin.
  • Woman laughing with salad…there is this hilarious slow motion scene which has the escort laughing with a sliced pepper hanging out her mouth.
  • Auto-erotic asphyxiation orgasm/vision.
  • The mentally challenged handywoman/maid. She supposedly gets killed but near the end she just pops up and runs around for a bit and then disappears again and there is no explanation for this. It was like something out of The Room.


  • There is a puppet that vomits leeches but when they come out of her mouth they look like really sloppy turds. She shits one into a guy’s mouth. Not my scene.
  • The movie ends really weirdly. The characters don’t kill the puppets; they just walk away and a stuffed dog comes to life. It was so confusing.


Not the best horror movie out there but still a pretty enjoyable watch. Fans of cult classics will no-doubt enjoy this. Definitely one to watch with friends. You’ll need someone to throw around quips with. If you watch it on your own it might just seem a bit pointless and random. With regard to strains that would work well with this film, I would suggest a hybrid of some kind. You’re going to want something that will keep you mentally alert but not so alert that you’ll get distracted easily. Also, those with bdellophobia (fear of leeches) might want to stay away…I just learnt a new word! Time to smoke up in celebration.




Filed under Good, Horror

13 responses to “Puppet Master (1989)

  1. Paul le Mat. PAUL LE MAT. Dammit. I’m thinking it’s actually not a name, but a curse. THE CURSE OF PAUL LE MAT. I watched two movies with him in them two weeks ago and they were both painful.

    Irene Miracle is only remembered for being a very-not-final girl in Dario Argento’s Inferno.

    • Wait a second!…..Are you telling me these people were in other films!? I assumed that this was their only 15 minutes of fame after which no-one hired them again.

      • Miracle was near, if not at, the end of her career at this point–both of the Le Mat movies I watched were actually more recent than this (89 and 94), but he was actually kinda-sorta a BFD in Hollywood in the seventies. I still don’t understand why.

        Awards for
        Paul Le Mat More at IMDbPro »
        Golden Globes, USA
        Year Result Award Category/Recipient(s)
        1985 Won Golden Globe Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV
        for: The Burning Bed (1984) (TV).

        1981 Nominated Golden Globe Best Motion Picture Actor – Musical/Comedy
        for: Melvin and Howard (1980).

        1974 Won Golden Globe Most Promising Newcomer – Male
        for: American Graffiti (1973).

        (I hated American Graffiti and sill haven’t managed to make it through Melvin and Howard…)

  2. Hahahaha, I wrote an entry for this for my book “Lessons Learned from Netflix” – your review is dead on!

  3. Haha, you’re right. The plot makes little sense and the puppets are way more dangerous than they should be at a foot-and-a-half tall. Never noticed the maid thing, though. I’ll have to rewatch it.

    As for the ending, here’s my interpretation: The puppets weren’t inherently bad, they were just following their master’s orders. Later, when they turned on him, thus helping the main characters, they became “good” and didn’t need to be killed because they weren’t a threat anymore. The dog came to life to infer that Megan became their new “Puppet Master” by discovering Toulon’s ancient formula.

    7/10 sounds about right. Haha. I’d be interested in your thoughts on the sequels sometime.

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