The Puppet Masters (Arrow Recommends)

Last Updated on July 30, 2021

"Arrow Recommends is a column that has my sorry ass advise older movies to your royal asses. I will be flexible in terms of genres i.e. I will cover whatever the bleep I want. For now, it will be the way to keep my voice on the site."

PLOT: A small town is invaded by fat vagina looking alien slugs. Their M.O. is hopping on human's backs and controlling them like puppets. Their end game? World domination what else?  It's up to Donald Sutherland's epic beard, Eric Thal's chiseled abs and Julie Warner's deep brown eyes to contain the invasion before it spreads.

“We've lost a town, now we've lost an army." – Andrew

LOWDOWN:  The 1994 THE PUPPET MASTERS (WATCH IT HERE or get the DVD) didn’t get any love upon its initial release by audiences or critics and to this day, it is an UNDER-SEEN little gem in my useless opinion. Based on Robert A. Heinlein’s 1951 book of the same name (never read it, but I hear it’s set in the future as opposed to present day like the film), it’s a shame that this sucka never found its niche as it played out like a THE X-FILES episode on amphetamines. Allow me to do my part in getting y’all to lock this one on your radars!

THE PUPPET MASTERS didn’t waste any time in setting up its sordid situation and then letting her rip like nobody’s business. I love these types of movies, the kind that manages to tell a story by driving it forward with unrelenting action. I was floored by the wam-bam found here! The visceral chases, the potent gun battles, the exciting fist fights – the flick tossed all of them goods at me fervently and I lapped them all up like the cheap date that I am. It should also be noted that the stunt work here was incredible. Once again (I’ve been saying this a lot these days), there is something oh so thrilling in seeing real people put themselves at risk to accomplish an action sequence as opposed to the physical feats being executed via CGI.

I took all of that for granted back in the 80’s and 90’s, but clocking this bold and old school stunt work today, I mucho esteemed it. RESPECT! It looked more real (cause it is) and by result jacked up the stakes of said scenes. Moreover, the fact that the bulk of the movie was set in daylight added to its charm. It reminded me of them old paranoid 60’s suspense thrillers but in this case… with mother*cking aliens tossed into the mix.

And speaking of aliens, them little creepy buggers hit the spot! The design was tops (created by Greg Cannom and his crew at Cannom Creations) and the effects execution mucho impressive (wait till you see how they travel). Practical will always trump CGI in my book of blood and the creatures here were yet another potent example of that. Another upside was the stellar cast on in the house! Donald Sutherland (cool casting – little nod to Invasion of the Body Snatchers) is always class, Eric Thal (who loved showing off his Gym time with open shirts or no shirts) made for an appealing no non-sense hero that whooped that ass convincingly, Julie Warner was endearing and sizzled up the screen (those eyes), and you can film Keith David finger painting for 3 hours and it would be the best f*cking thing you’ve ever witnessed (damn I love that dude).

Will Patton, the great Andrew Robinson, Marshall Bell and Yaphet Kotto also popped up in small roles. Yup lots of talent here! Arrow Note: Do you think it was a coincidence that Yaphet Kotto who was in Alien, Donald Sutherland who was in Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Keith David who was in The Thing were cast? These fine gents were in 3 of the best and definitive alien movies. I think not. Add to all that bang on production designs (dug the warped nest set), back-handing plot twists, efficient (if not a tad too basic) directing by mostly TV director Stuart Orme & a pinch of sexyness and you get a taunt little ditty that deserves more affection from genre fans.

On the downside, further character development would have been swell (that love story was a joke – more of  lust story). The flick also tossed a rule out there (humans feeling withdrawals when detached from parasite) but then quickly abandoned it for the rest of the film. Why bother then? I smell overcooking in the editing room.  And finally, there was one ending too many at play in the name of pumping out yet another action sequence. Came off as tacked on and unnecessary. But nothing to blow your brains out over. If the worse sin a movie commits is to give me one action scene too many – I’ll take it!

In closing, THE PUPPET MASTERS is an ideal go-to if you’re in the mood in being shamelessly entertained. It’s cool, action packed, stunt heavy, sexy and filled to the brim with freaky tentacle abusing aliens. You want fries with that? Nah, you be done!

A side note; in 1958 there was a flick that came out called The Brain Eaters (executive produced by Roger Corman). It was basically a rip-off of Robert A. Heinlein’s The Puppet Masters book.  Heinlein wound up suing the filmmakers for plagiarism and won. All that to say, I guess that was the first adaption of The Puppet Masters, I’ve never seen it and may hunt it down. Should I? Worth my time? Talk to me!

Source: Arrow in the Head

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