For some reason, when puppets are involved, everyone has a better time.
The Puppet Monster Massacre is a loving send-up to the horror genre, molding together funny characters with a haunted house plot. The resulting 70-minute film is clever, immature and often hilarious.
Charlie (voiced by Ethan Holey) lives at home with his grandfather (voiced by Bart Flynn), an irritable war veteran with a penchant for long farts and unwanted sexual advice. Charlie is a typical wimpy teenager. He has a crush on Gwen (voiced by Jessica Daniels), but can’t seem to muster enough courage to ask her out on a date. He finds his optimal opportunity when they are both invited to the mysterious house of Dr. Wolfgang Wagner (voiced by the great Steve Rimpici).
Gwen and Charlie, plus three other local teenagers, are issued a challenge upon first meeting the German doctor: Whoever can stay one night in the haunted mansion will split $1 million. Raimi (voiced by writer/director Dustin Mills) and the rest of the teenagers pick up on Wagner’s plans, immediately noting that the challenge is extremely similar to the great Vincent Price horror film, The House on Haunted Hill. Raimi is probably the funniest character; he’s a stand-in for all genre fans out there. I mean just look at his name (for the uninitiated: Sam Raimi directed the uber-popular Evil Dead series starring Bruce Campbell).
One thing leads to another and the doctor unleashes what has been lurking in his basement. All hell breaks loose, and just like all of the great 1980s horror films, the characters begin dropping one after another. Will Charlie outlast them all? Will he get that first kiss with Gwen before being eaten by the monster in the basement?
This movie is obviously a labor of love from Mills. His adoration for the horror genre is evident from the first frame to the last. Luckily, his writing is snappy and the jokes are often hilarious. There may be one or two many scatological digs, but for the most part every zinger lands. Note: This puppet tale is not for children. There’s a fair amount of graphic violence, language, nudity and steamy sex scenes. Think Team America: World Police.
The puppet work is nicely staged, and there are several visuals that are well shot. One sequence involves our hero lost within a sea of white bunnies, while another one sees a character’s head split in half. The actual monster looks pretty cool as well, coming off as a hybrid of Alien and Pumpkinhead.
The Puppet Monster Massacre is pure campy fun, and will likely appeal to those fans who grew up watching A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th and Halloween time and time again. A tongue is permanently planted in the cheek for this wild ride to the mansion of Dr. Wolfgang Wagner.
You’ve been warned. Now get off your high horse and enjoy The Puppet Monster Massacre.By John Soltes / Publisher / [email protected]
The Puppet Monster Massacre
Written and directed by Dustin Mills
Starring the voice talents of Ethan Holey, Jessica Daniels, Steve Rimpici, Bart Flynn, Erica Kisseberth and Mills
Running time: 70 minutes
Unrated, but includes graphic violence, language, nudity and sexual content, all involving puppets
Bubble score: 3 out of 4
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