Monstervision's Joe Bob Briggs Looks At

Puppet Master (1989)

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The Doctor needs help

[photo missing] We bring you this photograph of a demon-possessed puppet spitting giant leaches onto the chest of a man tied naked to his bed so that you don't have to see the really GROSS parts of "Puppet Master"

"Joe Bob Goes to the Drive-In" for 9/8/89
By Joe Bob Briggs
Drive-In Movie Critic of Grapevine, Texas

As soon as you start writing in the newspaper about people you know, you're suddenly in deep dog doo-doo. Two weeks ago I revealed publicly, for the first time, that Ugly-on-a-Stick was pregnant, and I haven't had a good night's rest since then. Two in the morning, I get phone calls. "Joe Bob, I want you to know that I am NOT the daddy of that ugly little fetus, and if you say I'm the father, I'll sue you. In fact, if you just THINK I'm the father, I'll sue you. In fact, if you're thinking right now to yourself, 'Maybe this guy's the father,' then I'll sue your hiney from here to Nairobi, Kenya."
And then I'll explain to em how it doesn't matter who the daddy is, because Ugly-on-a-Stick doesn't CARE who it is, and even if she DID care, they have these Genetic DNA Magic Mucus test where they scrape some drool off the baby and they can tell exactly who spermatized the baby.
But that doesn't satisfy em.
"I'll pay any amount of money for the child's support--baby facelift, whatever it might need--but I do NOT want anything in the paper about it."
At first, I though they were all embarrassed at the idea of having a baby out of wedlock, then it hit me what it was: these men had all had ACTUAL SEX with Ugly-on-a-Stick. Excuse me for a moment:

Speaking of creatures ALMOST as grotesque as Ugly-on-a-Stick, "Puppet Master" is the first zombie-marionette movie, following in the footsteps of Child's Play, last year's Drive-In Academy Award winner about Chucky the demon-possessed doll. The idea here is that William "Icky" Hickey, the actor you hire when you want people to say "Ooooooh, he's so oooooooold," learns how to do Egyptian voodoo on some puppets and make them come alive. But then the Mafia comes to waste him and he has to hole em up in the wall of a hotel so nobody will find em after he's dead.

Fifty years later and--whoops!--a crazed psychic finds the puppets and discovers the Egyptian voodoo secret and KILLS HIMSELF SO HE CAN COME BACK AS A ZOMBIE. This is what distinguishes "Puppet Master" from your run-of-the-mill zombie flick. Most zombie movies, people are trying to explode the heads of the zombies. This one, everybody comes to the hotel to STUDY the zombies, like scientists. There's a whole pack of New Age channel-changers checking in, hoping they'll find out how to jump-start old pieces of furniture, turn it into zombie material.

But meanwhile, the puppets are starting to turn mean, specially this one that looks like a pinhead bodybuilder with arms like Swift's Premium hamhocks. The best thing about the Puppet Fu that's about to befall every visitor to the hotel is that David Schmoeller, the drive-in director who also made "The Seduction" and "Crawlspace," has created a special Zombie Puppet Cam that lets you see all the people die at Puppet Level! You see the beauty here? It's one thing to say, "I wonder what it would look like if a puppet with a dentist's drill in his head ran straight at your brain and just drilled his way right through." But it's another, entirely DIFFERENT thing when you say "What would the same thing look like if you were eight inches high and so all you could see was this enormous blood-spurting brain?"
Yeah, it's that sick--one of the best of 89.

One breasts.
Five dead bodies.
Brain splattering.
Head drilling.
Leg drilling.
Close-up finger hacking.
Green blood-spitting.
Blood-sucking stomach leeches.
Puppet rassling.
Zombie maid.
Zombie dog.
Extremely kinky sex.
Heads roll.
Fingers roll.
Leech Fu (you wouldn't believe it).
Drive-In Academy Award nomination for Irene Miracle, as the white witch-lady fortune-teller, for saying "You are in great danger--do not go near the fireplace"
and, to the grieving widow, "Your husband was a despicable greedy bastard";
Robin Frates, as the widow, for saying "Who are you people?";
Paul LeMat, as the sensitive Alex, for saying "I had this dream and I came here to make sure it didn't come true";
Jimmie F. Skaggs, as the psychic zombie, for saying "I'm tired of experimenting with silly puppets" right before five puppets tear him limb from limb;
and David Schmoeller, for the Puppet Cam.
Four stars. Joe Bob says check it out.


Communist Alert! Only five drive-ins remain in the entire state of Maine, even though one of the survivors--the Bridgton Drive-In in Bridgton, Me.--continues to do great business despite a short summer season. What's going on up there? One clue: the one in Kennebunkport got knocked down for condos. Remember, without eternal vigilance, it can happen here. To discuss the meaning of life with Joe Bob, or to get his "We Are the Weird" newsletter revealing how you, too, can receive meaningless junk in the mail from Joe Bob, write Joe Bob Briggs, P.O. Box 2002, Dallas, TX 75221. Joe Bob's Fax line is always open: (214) 368-2310.

Joe Bob,
I like camels, elephants, and pigs. I throw these occasionally. I am really, really, in my room right now.
David Stanton
Arlington, Tex.

Dear Dave:
I believe you. Don't get paranoid and kill some innocent person with a carelessly thrown zoo animal.

Dear Joe Bob,
This last weekend, I was at a "cul-de-sac pickle ball, badminton and hot tub party" where I was the only normal person to show up on a motorcycle, wearing full leathers. Everyone was drinking swimming-pool-blue alcoholic drinks--like they were filling holes. There was lots of food, so I began my John Belushi imitation and chowed down. When I spotted the pig meat, I asked is the pig BBQ or Bar Bee Que? The response was the blank yuppy stare; with the sound of the new-money illiterate: "huh?," "whah?," and "guh duh?" I let it go at that.

Later on, some bimbo with a super-sauced husband who had watched The Blues Brothers forty million times, was saying she liked blood and guts hollyrock horror scare-the------out-of-you films. I asked if she'd ever read any reviews by my literary hero, Joe Bob Briggs? Same response as the earlier BBQ/Bar Bee Que remark. But now there was some genuine yuppified lights-are-on-but-no one's-home interest. I had to describe and explain (?) YOU! And, it's not a pretty sight.

With regard for the mentality of this yucky yup audience, I scanned my memory blanks and came up with the Hells Angels movie--you remember--"11 years to make the film: one year shooting and 10 years to figure out how to put those little holes in the film" . . . Next, I filled them in about the "breasts"-"fu"-"pints of blood"-"chase scenes" and Drive-in Academy Awards. But, Don't worry; these people were pickled beyond retention.
Yer pal,
Craig Alan Schiller

Dear Craig:
1) I was not super-sauced.
2) I don't think she was my wife.
3) If you'd given her fifteen, twenty more minutes, she would have remembered my name.

Dear Joe Bob,
We native Texans trapped in Virginia wanna know if you slept your way to the top.
Midlothian, Va.

Dear Claire-Bear:
I tried to, but I forgot to leave a wake-up call.

Joe Bob,
I feel I must ask this question in regards to the lady from Utah who questioned your review of "The Last Temptation of the J-Man." It must be a most horrific burden to bear to believe that if your Lord, J.C., did not exist as a deity, then you are doomed to Hell. How then can anyone go to Heaven? Are you trying to say that no matter how Christ-like a person you may be, it's not good enough? If J.C. is not God, then the rules and laws of humanity credited to Him are not worth following? I'm no Christian, but the basic rules are, I believe, quite desirable. Thanks for your indulgence.
Tracy Levin
El Paso, Tex.

Dear Tracy:
What I was saying is, what if the J-Man IS God AND He thinks about sex. I guess that would be too much to expect, wouldn't it? I guess he just thinks about every OTHER subject in the world, but not sex. I guess that's what the lady from Utah was saying.

Dear Joe Bob:
Back in January I was sitting at my desk trying to pick an appropriate branch of the logarithm, and the idea of branches got me to thinking about family branches, and I got to wondering whether the folks back in Texas remember me. As if in answer, I got something in the mail from them in July. It was an invitation to the family reunion in August. The THIRD family reunion, to be exact. The problem is, this is the FIRST invitation I have gotten to any of these reunions. Kinda shows where I stand in the scheme of things. The blow to my self-esteem was so great that I had to give some deep thought to what I could possibly do to recover. I thought that maybe I would picket the Miami Herald for supporting the "holocaust" hoax. Another thought that came to me was that I could go on the college lecture circuit telling people about Esperanto. And then another thought was that I could re-read Shane.

After careful consideration, I chose item #3, to re-read Shane, because it was the one that I could do without taking my feet off my desk. The timing was a happy coincidence too, because this is the centenary of when the action in Jack Schaefer's "magnificent and enduring" story took place.

Well, I feel a hole lot better, now that I've reread the book. I've got my self eh steam back. That's the happy ending to this episode, except that I couldn't help writing a pome about it, so here it is:
It was '89, and the days were hot.
Pa had staked and built our plot.
One day, a man in black
Came riding down the valley track.
The track diverged, and he stopped to view
Where each road was leading to,
And took the lesser-travelled lane,
And stayed with us. His name was Shane.

Pa was pressed, in a game not new,
By a wild rancher and his dangerous crew.
Fletcher, the rancher, picked a straight fight:
Winner take all, and loser take flight.
First with fists, then with lead,
The fight progressed, and left its dead.
In all these scenes, no less the last,
Shane was best, and Shane was fast.

Two-gunned Wilson was Fletcher's ace,
And men spoke low when he showed his face.
But Shane was deadly, and Shane was faster:
He killed the ace, and the ace's master.
Badly hurt, he went to leave,
But bent to help a boy believe,
Then rode away, in silent pain,
And looked not back. His name was Shane

Mike Jones
Coral Gables, Fla.

Dear Mike:
The kid was still obnoxious.
© 1989 Joe Bob Briggs All Rights Reserved

For more of Joe Bob's pre-TNT reviews in Grapevine, Texas, go to his Drive-In Reviews Archive over yonder at www.Joe Bob

The "Puppet Master" series is available on video and on DVD

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