Horror Movie Review: Curse of the Puppet Master (1998)

Like all good franchises that have been going on for too long, The Curse of the Puppet Master drops the number from the title (this is the 6th in the long-running series).

The Curse of the Puppet Master opens at ‘the house of marvels’, a doll museum run by Dr. Magrew. The puppets of the series are in a cage watching the good doctor (an honouree title) stuff something in a crate while explaining ‘that ‘next time things will different’. He takes the crate to a clearing in the woods & sets it on fire. Whatever is inside can be heard screaming.

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The next day Dr Magrew’s daughter (Jane) arrives home from college. Happy to be home she enquires about the whereabouts of her father’s assistant, Matt. Dr. Magrew claims that he went home to care for his sick father…he’s hardly convincing but she buys it & they go off to the local town together.

At the gas-station they encounter, Tank, so named because of his size, a gentle giant with a skill for carving wooden statues. After helping him deal with some local bullies, Jane discovers his wooden statues & shows them to her father who offers Tank a job at the show.

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Tank agrees & back at the show he is introduced to the live puppets, Blade, Jester, Pinhead & more. It turns out Dr. Magrew bought them at an auction & has been trying to replicate what makes them live ever since to no success. He believes the answer lies in the carving & with Tanks abilities he can carve the perfect model.

…but there is more to Dr. Magrew’s plan then Tank realises, for him to create a living puppet he’ll have to lose his soul.

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The nicest surprise about The Curse of the Puppet Master is that it’s a decent movie moving away from the lengthy & often boring Andre Toulon side of the story. The story told here, while obvious from the start, is exciting & well-acted (Tank in particular is very good in his role). The puppets take a back seat for most of the movie only getting major scenes when it comes to murdering someone.

The body count is extremely low here, mainly because of the small cast. The goriest being when the puppets go after the bully who goes from picking on Tank to attempted rape. It’s quite an extreme turn & his attempt to break into the Magrew household is laughably bad. He announces his arrival giving Jane plenty of time to scream & react quite poorly. It’s no surprise that Tunneler drills him in the junk, the guys an idiot.

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There are some nice effects in particular when Tank has dreams about being turned into a life-size puppet. It’s creepy & prophetic as it’s clear early on that Dr Magrew has a plan to use Tank to create life inside his new puppets.

The end result of his plan though…it’s awful & the film ends so abruptly I thought I wasn’t watching a complete version. What happens next? It doesn’t matter as the next in series goes backwards again.

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A decent entry in the franchise that tells an interesting story even if it is a massive let-down at the end. A lack of any real puppet action is disappointing but what we do get is gory & violent.


  • Carl Fisher

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Curse of the Puppet Master
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