Who doesn’t like puppets? Puppets have been a staple of children’s programming for decades. Shows like “Sesame Street” and “The Muppet Show” bring a warm sense of nostalgia to many adults who grew up watching them. These shows must have done something for filmmaker Dustin Mills, because he decided to take a page out of Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s book; like the infamous creators of “South Park” he wanted to make a film using puppets. Trey and Matt’s film Team America World Police, played on the string-supported marionettes favored by shows like “Thunderbirds” and “Super Car”. Dustin’s film went a different route, favoring felt/cloth style hand puppets that look like they could be right out of an after-school program’s stock. But while the puppet styles may be different, Dustin does share Matt and Trey’s sense of the outrageous and controversial. The result is the horror 80s movie parody: The Puppet Monster Massacre.
Set in 1985, The Puppet Monster Massacre follows Charlie, a wimpy teenager who longs to re-open his late parent’s dime store…and to have a date with his true love, Gwen. Charlie lives with his war hero Grandpa, who dispenses obscenities almost as much as he does nuggets of wisdom.
Charlie, along with Gwen, a horror movie geek named Ramie and a couple of punk rockers all receive invitations to spend the night at the mansion of the infamous Doctor Wagner. Along the lines of the William Castle B-Movie The House on Haunted Hill, the teens are each promised a share of a million dollar inheritance if they spend the entire night in the “haunted” mansion.
Only it isn’t ghosts that the teens need to worry about – it’s Dr. Wagner and his pet monster. Wagner has been experimenting with creating a creature that will kill and eat just about anything and as it does, it grows bigger and stronger. Will any of the group survive the night? Will Charlie build up the courage to ask Gwen out? More importantly, will Ramie get to see a real woman naked?
The Puppet Monster Massacre is a truly unique independent film. Shot with puppets, models and some quality CGI environments, PMM is a fun film that pays homage to many of the 80’s horror films. The characters are very two dimensional and the plot is mostly predictable. However, Mills’ film has lots of funny, though crude, humor. It also has the unique distinction of being one of the most violent puppet films ever made…. Granted, there isn’t a huge field for ultra-violent puppet movies, but The Puppet Monster Massacre is definitely up there. The film even manages to work in nudity and sex, in all its felty, puppet goodness, to go along with the adult humor and violence. In the end, The Puppet Monster Massacre is a fun movie for anyone who’s looking for something a little different. The horror isn’t really scary, but it is funny and the production values of the film are high enough that it looks really good. The film does have some issues with the sound quality. While not terrible, the volume does tend to rise and fall from scene to scene. Also, the female voice actors came across much more flat and dead pan than the male ones. Whether this was intentional or not, it made the dialogue awkward at times. Overall though, The Puppet Monster Massacre is a fun film for horror fans who are looking for something offbeat and humorous. So check out The Puppet Monster Massacre for yourself. After all, it’s no strings attached right?