After the collapse of his film studio, Empire Pictures, Charles Band relocated to the United States and opened Full Moon Productions. Band's goal with Full Moon was to create low budget horror, science fiction and fantasy films which mirrored the quality of films with more generous budgets. After partnering with Paramount Pictures and Pioneer Home Entertainment, Full Moon began production on its first feature film, The Puppet Master, which had a premise similar to an earlier Empire film produced by Band, Dolls. Originally intended for theatrical release in summer 1989, before being released on home video the following September, Puppet Master was ultimately pushed to a direct-to-video release on October 12, 1989, as Band felt he was likely to make more money this way than he would in the theatrical market. Puppet Master proved to be a success, and the film's cult status has led to the production of nine sequels (of these nine films, one is a crossover with another Full Moon franchise, Demonic Toys). A documentary containing interviews with cast and crew members was also shot and included on VHS and Laserdisc pressings of Puppet Master, as a featurette titled No Strings Attached.
Loving all the matters would see the release of two sequels, Puppet Master 2: His Unholy Creation and Puppet Master III: Toulon's Revenge; the latter which served as a series prequel. Toulon's Revenge was the first installment to feature Guy Rolfe in the role of puppeteer Andre' Toulon (in the films prior, Toulon was portrayed by renowned actor William Hickey and Steve Welles, respectively). Rolfe reprised the role of Toulon for three additional films before his death in 2003, after which he posthumously appeared in Puppet Master: The Legacy through extensive use of archival footage. In 1993 Full Moon began shooting another two sequels simultaneously, Puppet Master 4: The Demon and Puppet Master 5: The Final Chapter, the latter which, as the title indicates, was intended to be the final installment of the series. After the release of The Final Chapter in September 1994, Full Moon opted to retire Puppet Master and announced that a spin-off trilogy titled "Puppet Wars" was to be started in 1995. The spin-off trilogy was cancelled leaving the series to continue its legacy through merchandising and a growing cult following.
Due to demand from video retailers for a new installment of the series, four years after its retirement the Puppet Master franchise was promptly revived by the production of a sixth entry, Curse of the Puppet Master, in 1998. This was the first installment not to have David W. Allen involved with special effects. As by this time Paramount had ended its deal with Full Moon, to conserve costs the film was put together using using a combination of rod and string puppets, as well as archival footage. In September of the following year, a Puppet Master spin-off featuring the Totems of the fourth installment was released, titled Totem, and that October, a second prequel (taking place at an even earlier time than Toulon's Revenge) was released, titled Retro-Puppetmaster. This entry was an anomaly to the series, in that the main theme composed by Richard Band, brother of Full Moon's Charles Band, was completely absent, and it with its PG-13 rating, Retro-Puppetmaster was the first film in the series not to be rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America. The original idea for the seventh installment of the series was to take place following Toulon's Revenge, with Toulon and his puppets escaping Germany by train, after which they are confronted by Nazis and demons. This idea was abandoned because the Kushner Locke Company thought it would offend the German audience, but it will form the basis for the ninth installment of the series, Puppet Master 9: Axis of Evil. On June 12, 2009, Band announced that he would post video updates of Axis of Evil on Full Moon's website. Four days later on June 16, the first update was made available, verifying the film's roster of puppets to be included, as well as the principal cast members, Levi Fiehler and Jerry Hoffman. In 2010, Axis of Evil was released on DVD and Blu-ray.
As of 1999, Retro Puppet Master is the latest original, feature-length Puppet Master film produced by Full Moon. An eighth entry, Puppet Master: The Legacy, was released in 2004, however only a fraction of the film contains original footage; the remainder is archival footage used to summarize the series thus far. The same year, a crossover film featuring the animated playthings of Full Moon's Puppet Master and Demonic Toys series aired on Sci Fi Channel, however neither Full Moon nor Charles Band had any involvement in its production (although the usual Puppet Master screenwriters are credited with penning its script). As such, the puppets used in Puppet Master vs. Demonic Toys are all noticeably replicas produced for the film.
In 2005, Charles Band alluded to a possible Puppet Master television series, called Puppet Wars (see left for promotional artwork), and expressed interest in seeing a video game adaptation of the franchise developed. In June 2008, Band announced that a tenth installment of the series is planned, tentatively subtitled Axis of Evil. In March 2009, it was reported that Band is also interested in remaking 1989's Puppet Master in 3-D. Similarly, the original film was reissued by Razor Digital in 2007 in DualDisc format, featuring both standard and stereoscopic versions.
- The Puppet Master (1989)
- Puppet Master 2: His Unholy Creation (1991)
- The Puppet Master 3: Toulon's Revenge (1991)
- Puppet Master 4: The Demon (1993)
- Puppet Master 5: The Final Chapter (1994)
- Curse of the Puppet Master (1998)
- The Retro-Puppetmaster (1999)
- Puppet Master 8: The Legacy (2003)
- The Puppet Master vs. The Demonic Toys (2004)
- Puppet Master 9: Axis of Evil (2010)
- Puppet Master X: Axis Rising (2012)
- Puppet Master: Axis Termination (2017)
- Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018)
Series in Chronological OrderEdit
The Puppet Master series is a confusing one, as each installment not created in chronological order, and the events of Puppet Master III: Toulon's Revenge are dated inaccurately. For instance, The Puppet Master, first motion picture of the franchise states that Toulon committed suicide in 1939 at the Bodega Bay Inn in Bodega Bay, California, while Puppet Master III: Toulon's Revenge takes place in 1941, and he is still very much alive.
In an attempt to resolve the confusion, the installments are listed below in chronological order based on the plot summaries of each film.
Retro Puppet Master, directed by David DeCoteau, was released on video in 1999. The prologue of this film shows Toulon hiding out from the Nazis, probably during the events in Puppet Master III. He finds a cracked head of a puppet, named Cyclops, and decides to tell the current puppets the story of how he came to possess the puppet life power to begin with.
Eventually, Toulon takes his puppetry to Cairo with his new puppet, named "Mephisto", where, during a 1912 expedition one of his performances, is attended by a magician who, unbeknownst to Toulon, sets his theater ablaze. There to rebound Toulon's loss, the magician invites the puppeteer and his wife to his quarters, where he shows them an animated puppet of his own, a chained Egyptian goblin puppet, named "Djinn" that was animated by an elixir formula. (This is first revealed in a flashback of Puppet Master 2: His Unholy Creation and later reinstated with archived footage in Puppet Master: The Legacy)
Puppet Master III: Toulon's Revenge, directed by David DeCoteau, was released on video in 1991. Years later, in Berlin, where Andre and Elsa Toulon have now taken residence, a Wehrmacht lieutenant learns that Toulon's puppets are sentient.
Puppet Master: Axis of Evil, directed by David DeCoteau, was released on video in 2010. In 1939, Bodega Bay employee Danny Coogan discovers Toulon's body, along with his trunk of puppets, and begins taking care of them, eventually their secret.
Danny Coogan, the handicapped boy who found Toulon's puppet's, is not able to go over sea's and fight against the Kraus, but he may just get his wish by doing his bit right in China town, California. Even if he is fighting with and against 12 inch tiny terrors!
Puppet Master: Axis Termination, directed by Charles Band, will be released on video in 2016. THE AXIS TERMINATION, the final chapter of the AXIS Saga, we find our heroic band of lethal puppets—BLADE, PINHEAD, TUNNELER, JESTER, SIX SHOOTER, and LEECH WOMAN, joining forces with a secret team of Allied Operatives, all masters of psychic powers, as they face off together against a new bunch of evil Nazi adversaries and their collection of vicious Axis Puppets in a showdown that will decide the future of the free world!
Puppet Master (first motion picture of the franchise), directed by David Schmoeller, was released on video in 1989. In 1989, four psychics each receive unsettling visions, which they assess have been sent by a former colleague, Neil Gallagher.
Puppet Master 2, directed by Dave Allen, was released on video in 1991. After the incident, the puppets visit the Shady Oaks cemetery where they recover Toulon's corpse and reanimate it using the last of the Egyptian's elixir. With Toulon alive, the puppets hope that he can brew a new elixir to continue keeping them sustained.
Puppet Master 4, directed by Jeff Burr, was released on video in 1993. Some time after Camille takes Toulon's puppets on the road, they are returned to the Bodega Bay Inn, where they are not discovered until one summer while a youth scientist named Rick Myers serves as caretaker for the hotel.
Puppet Master 5, directed by Jeff Burr, was released on video in 1994. Following the events of Puppet Master 4, shortly after the attack, Myers is arrested under suspicion for having caused the murders committed by the Totems.
Curse of the Puppet Master, directed by David DeCoteau, was released on video in 1998. The puppets are soon placed into an auction, where they are obtained by Magrew, an honorary doctor who manages a sideshow in a small American community.
Puppet Master: The Legacy, directed by Charles Band, was released on video in 2003. The puppets are returned to the Bodega Bay Inn, which is now the residence of Peter Hertz, the boy Toulon escaped Germany during the war (Puppet Master III: Toulon's Revenge). Meanwhile, a mercenary named Maclain, who has been hired by Toulon's original puppets to learn what reverses the spell of animation, is immersing herself in the puppeteer's history.
Puppet Master vs Demonic Toys (unofficial installment), directed by Ted Nicolaou, was aired on TV in 2004. The puppets and their new master meets face to face with the killer toys from "The Demonic Toys".
The most well-received Puppet Master installments are generally those released before the series' four-year hiatus. As the series was revived at a time when Full Moon Features was no longer partnered with Paramount Pictures, the studio's finances grew increasingly tight, and as a result the quality of each subsequent Puppet Master title (as well as numerous other Full Moon productions) waned. On Rotten Tomatoes, the only three installments which have been rated by critics are Puppet Master, which has a 17% rating after 6 reviews; Puppet Master II, which has a 20% rating after 5 reviews; and Puppet Master 4, which has a 0% rating after 5 reviews. The films have evidently scored much better with users, currently rating 51%, 47% and 66%, respectively.
Several of the Puppet Master films have been released on DVD in very small quantities. A box set containing the first seven installments of the series was released by Full Moon, but was recalled shortly after. However, in 2007, Full Moon Features reacquired the rights to the first five films, and the box set has since been reissued and is available directly from Full Moon, as well as through several online retailers. The first three films were included as part of an 18-disc Full Moon Features collection, and have since been individually released as a Spanish-subtitled import collection. In 2007, Razor Digital released an uncut DualDisc version of the first film, featuring both the standard and stereoscopic versions of the film, but with very poor picture quality. In December 2008, Charles Band authorized the first Puppet Master film for digital download through the iTunes Store; his first foray into the digital market.
- Puppet Master Eternity Comics
- A series of action figures produced by Full Moon Toys, and scale replicas of the series' puppets, produced by Full Moon Playthings.
- A set of collectible cards.
- Puppet Master Costumes
- ^ Puppet Master 5 "Videozone" documentary
- ^ "HILL'S CHARLES BAND INTERVIEW - Part 2". Puppet Master. http://www.ween.net/puppetmaster/CharlesBandInterview2.html. Retrieved 2009-03-24.
- ^ "PUPPET MASTER: AXIS OF EVIL, DEMONIC TOYS 2, GINGERDEAD MAN 3? FULL MOON Sequel-Mania!". Icons of Fright. http://iconsoffright.com/news/2008/08/puppet_master_axis_of_evil_dem.html. Retrieved 2009-03-24.
- ^ "Charles Band to Remake 'Puppetmaster' in 3-D". Bloody Disgusting. http://www.bloody-disgusting.com/news/15527. Retrieved 2009-03-23.
- ^ "Puppet Master". Rotten Tomatoes. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/puppet_master/. Retrieved 2009-03-23.
- ^ "Puppet Master 2: His Unholy Creations". Rotten Tomatoes. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/puppet_master_2_his_unholy_creations/. Retrieved 2009-03-23.
- ^ "Puppet Master 4: The Demon". Rotten Tomatoes. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/puppet_master_4_the_demon/. Retrieved 2009-03-23.
- ^ "Puppet Master". Rotten Tomatoes. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/puppet_master/reviews_users.php. Retrieved 2009-03-24.
- ^ "Puppet Master 2: His Unholy Creations". Rotten Tomatoes. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/puppet_master_2_his_unholy_creations/reviews_users.php. Retrieved 2009-03-24.
- ^ "Puppet Master 4: The Demon". Rotten Tomatoes. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/puppet_master_4_the_demon/reviews_users.php. Retrieved 2009-03-24.