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Puppet Master

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David Schmoeller

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Curse of the Puppet Master

Puppet Master (also known as Puppetmaster and Puppet Master I) is a 1989 horror film written by Charles Band and Kenneth J. Hall, and directed by David Schmoeller. It is the first film in the Puppet Master franchise and stars Paul Le Mat, Irene Miracle, Matt Roe and Kathryn O'Reilly as psychics who are plotted against by a former colleague, using puppets animated by an Egyptian spell. 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 Charles Band felt he was likely to make more money this way than he would in the theatrical market. the film was very popular in the video market and since developed a large cult following has led to the production of ten sequels.


In 1939 Bodega Bay, California an old puppeteer named Andre Toulon is putting the finishing touches on a living puppet called Jester. A living oriental puppet, named Shredder Khan, stares out of the window at Blade, another living puppet, as Blade scouts the grounds of the Bodega Bay Inn that Andre is staying. Two Nazi spies, Max and Klaus, get out of a car and head for Toulon's room but Blade beats them there and Andre puts Blade, Jester and Shredder Khan into a chest with the indian puppet, named Gengie, before hiding the chest in a wall panel. As the Nazis break down the door, Toulon shoots himself in the mouth with a pistol. The puppets Gengie and Shredder Khan were not seen in the rest of the movie.

The film now cuts to 1989, with a psychic named Alex. Alex has a dream of a man that he recognizes putting a gun to a woman's head. Seconds later, he dreams that there are leeches on his stomach, sucking out significant amounts of blood. The film cuts to Dana, another psychic, who has visions of being slashed across the throat with a knife. Carissa and Frank, two other psychics who are apparently lovers, are reading the mind of another woman when they get a call from Alex. Frank tells Alex that they also got a call from Dana, and the four psychics assess that the visions they have been having were sent from a former colleague, Neil Gallagher.

The psychics meet at the Bodega Bay Inn that Neil is staying at and meet Neil's wife, Megan, as well as the housekeeper, Theresa. The psychics are skeptical that Neil took a wife but it is forgotten when Megan tells them that Neil shot himself. Theresa, Megan, and Alex leave the body, leaving Frank, Carissa and Dana. Dana stabs a long pin into Neil's corpse to verify that he is in fact dead.

Settling into her room, Dana warns Theresa to stay away from the fireplace. Theresa, somewhat upset and suspicious of Dana, leaves the room. Alex, in his room, finds a picture and has a vision of a couple dancing in a ballroom, only to awaken from his vision with the now crumpled picture in his hand. While in the elevator Carissa has visions of Neil violently attacking a woman in the same elevator. Theresa tells Frank and Carissa not to say things like that around Megan, as she is already upset over the loss of her husband. They assure her they will not. As the sun sets, Pinhead, another living puppet, climbs out of Neil's casket. That night at dinner, Dana makes several remarks about Neil that causes Megan to leave the table. Alex goes after her and explains about the powers of the people in the group. Carissa can touch an object and give the object's history, Dana can tell fortunes and locate things and people, and Alex himself has premonitions in his dreams.

When night falls, Theresa goes near the fireplace and is murdered when Pinhead hits her with a poker. The psychics hear a scream and find Megan passed out nearby Neil's body that has been moved into a chair by someone. Carissa and Frank spend some intimate time together in one of the hotel rooms but two more living puppets, Tunneler and Leech Woman, enter. Tunneler kills Carissa by drilling into her face and Leech Woman vomits leeches onto Frank's body, which drain his blood. Meanwhile, Dana sits around with her taxidermied dog until she is attacked by Pinhead, who breaks her leg. Pinhead chases her and repeatedly strangles and punches her until she manages to knock him away, only to have her throat cut by Blade, using his knife-hand.

Alex has recurring nightmares of Megan having a gun put to her head by Neil and the other psychics being found dead, but is eventually awoken by Megan, who takes him into the room that Andre Toulon was in, and tells him that Neil found Andre's secret to bringing inanimate objects, such as puppets, to life. Alex has a vision and they go downstairs to find the dead bodies of the psychics sitting around a table. They are stopped by the newly resurrected Neil. He explains that "metaphysically speaking", he did commit suicide, but he used Toulon's formula to give himself eternal life. He fights with Alex and beats him up, and then hurts Jester. Seeing this attack on one of their own, the puppets revolt against Neil. Pinhead locks him in an elevator, and Neil starts to attack him, forcing him to get out of his way. Neil throws Pinhead to a wall and then bangs on the elevator door trying to get out and shouting 'Open this door!', Pinhead grabs Neil's leg then Neil picks him up and pulls Pinhead's head off and throws his headless body and head to a wall. Tunneler then drills into Neil's leg, and Neil pulls him off. He then limps and climbs up the elevator, trying to get free. Pinhead puts his head back on his body, and he and Tunneler try to grab Neil. Blade then shows up and chops Neil's fingers off, which make him fall off the top of elevator. Blood (in the color of green) squirts out of Neil's fingers. Pinhead grabs Neil's head, then the puppets murder Neil. Pinhead holds Neil's head, Blade stabs his hand with a knife, Tunneler drills into his neck, then Blade opens Neil's mouth for Leach Woman to vomit a leach into his mouth. Alex tries to stop the puppets killing Neil, by shouting 'Stop!', kicking the elevator door and trying to open it. Megan then shouts 'Stop!' bursting into tears. Pinhead then cracks Neil's neck (killing him). Megan cries after he dies.

The film cuts to Alex saying goodbye to Megan and leaving the hotel. Now alone, Megan picks up Dana's taxidermic dog, and in the following scene, the dog becomes completely animate, walking up the stairs with Megan, indicating that she, too, has learned Toulon's method (although the film's sequel dispels that she has become the next Puppet Master).





Information from IMDB

Directed by 

David Schmoeller

Writing Credits  

Charles Band ... (story) and
Kenneth J. Hall ... (story)
David Schmoeller ... (screenplay) (as Joseph G. Collodi)
J.S. Cardone ... (story) (uncredited)

Cast (in credits order) verified as complete  

[1] Paul Le Mat ... Alex Whitaker
[2] William Hickey ... Andre Toulon
[3] Irene Miracle ... Dana Hadley
[4] Jimmie F. Skaggs ... Neil Gallagher
[5] Robin Frates ... Megan Gallagher
[6] Matt Roe ... Frank Forrester
[7] Kathryn O'Reilly ... Carissa Stamford
[8] Mews Small ... Theresa (as Merrya Small)
[9] Barbara Crampton ... Woman at Carnival
[10] David Boyd ... Man at Carnival
[11] Peter Frankland ... Assassin #1
[12] Andrew Kimbrough ... Assassin #2
[13] Ed Cook ... Pinhead (voice)
[14] Linda Cook ... Leech Woman (voice)
[15] Tim Dornberg ... Tunneler (voice)
[16] Bert Rosario ... Blade (voice)
[17] Michael Laide ... Jester (voice)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
[18] Andrea Henry ... (uncredited)

Produced by 

Charles Band ... executive producer
Hope Perello ... producer

Music by 

Richard Band

Cinematography by 

Sergio Salvati ... director of photography

Film Editing by 

Thomas Meshelski ... (as Tom Meshelski)

Casting By 

Vivian Levy

Production Design by 

John Myhre

Set Decoration by 

Anna Rita Raineri

Costume Design by 

Robin Lewis West ... (as Robin Lewis)

Makeup Department 

Laura Connolly ... additional stylist
Lisa Lowe ... hair stylist
Carlann Matz ... additional stylist
Valerie McKnight ... makeup artist
Steve Neill ... special effects makeup artist: additional photography, David Allen Productions

Production Management 

Gary Schmoeller ... production manager

Second Unit Director or Assistant Director 

Jerome Goldberg ... second assistant director
Hope Perello ... second unit director
Rachel Resnick ... second assistant director
David Turchi ... first assistant director
Jeffrey M. Zeitlin ... second assistant director (as Jeff Zeitin)
Jerry Goldberg ... second assistant director (uncredited)

Art Department 

Phil Brandes ... scenic artist
Andrea Dietrich ... storyboard artist
Sean Everett ... property master (as Sean E. Markland)
Val Harris ... set decorator: additional photography
Loy Hopkins ... set dresser
Gene Hunter ... construction
Robin Lewis West ... on-set dresser (as Robin Lewis)
Robert Lucas ... construction
Greg Pestoni ... swing
Gabrielle Petrissans ... assistant set decorator
Mike Reinhardt ... construction coordinator: additional photography
Brana Rosenfeld ... shopper (as Brauna Rosenfeld)
Adam Silverman ... assistant property master

Sound Department 

Sarah Brady ... dialogue editor
Mark Cookson ... sound effects editor
William Fiege ... sound mixer
Walter Gorey ... sound mixer: additional photography
Ted Kosciusko ... sound mixer
Adriane Marfiak ... sound effects editor (as Adrian Marfiak)
Andy Napell ... sound mixer
Phillip Raves ... sound effects editor
Doug Reed ... foley editor
William Shaffer ... boom operator (as Bill Shaffer)
Gary F. Spradling ... daily sound transferer (uncredited)

Special Effects by 

Mark Rappaport ... animatronics engineer
Patrick Simmons ... special effects makeup

Visual Effects by 

David Allen ... puppet animator / visual effects supervisor
Sally Chow ... puppeteer: David Allen Productions
Paul Gentry ... effects photography (as Paul W. Gentry)
Dennis Gordon ... puppet fabrication and miniatures: David Allen Productions
Beth Hathaway ... puppeteer: David Allen Productions
Justin Kohn ... puppet animator: David Allen Productions
Donna Littleford ... visual effects production assistant: David Allen Productions
Harvey Mayo ... puppet fabrication and miniatures: David Allen Productions
Jene Omens ... puppet fabrication and miniatures: David Allen Productions (as Gene Omens)
Mark Rappaport ... animatronic engineer: David Allen Productions
Patrick Simmons ... special effects makeup: David Allen Productions
Cindy Sorenson ... puppeteer: David Allen Productions (as Cindy Sorensen)
John Teska ... puppet fabrication and miniatures: David Allen Productions
Brett B. White ... puppeteer: David Allen Productions (as Brett White)


BJ Davis ... stunts

Camera and Electrical Department 

Guy Alford ... electrician
Lisa Andreini ... still photographer
Paul Bacca ... electrician
Jürgen Baum ... gaffer
Russell Carpenter ... director of photography: additional photography (as Russ Carpenter)
Bryan Cooke ... electrician
Rob Copeland ... grip
David Dowell ... first assistant camera: additional photography
Peter Drinco ... best boy grip (as Pete Drinco)
Christopher Faloona ... first assistant camera (as Chris Faloona)
John V. Fante ... director of photography: second unit (as John Fante)
Marcus 'Roo' Flower ... grip (as Marcus Flower)
Paul Gentry ... director of photography: second unit (as Paul W. Gentry)
Steve Gero ... best boy electric
Edward A. Gutentag ... steadicam assistant (as Ed Gutentag)
Jeffrey A. Johnson ... grip: additional photography (as Jeff Johnson)
Steven Kaminsky ... grip (as Steve Kaminsky)
Chris Kiperman ... grip: second unit
Steven Kline ... assistant camera: second unit (as Steve Kline)
Leslie Morris ... second assistant camera
Michael C. Price ... electrician (as Mike Price)
Steve Price ... electrician
David M. Rakoczy ... key grip (as Dave Rakoczy)
Rick Raphael ... director of photography: second unit / steadicam operator
Larry Roth ... electrician: additional photography / electrician: second unit
Gilbert Salas ... second assistant camera
Antonio Scaramuzza ... camera operator (as Tony Scaramuzza)
Ryan Wedemeyer ... grip

Costume and Wardrobe Department 

Meg Goodwin ... wardrobe supervisor
Annie Jones ... wardrobe supervisor

Editorial Department 

Juliet Avola ... post-production
Randy Bricker ... assistant editor

Location Management 

Lisa W. Strout ... location scout (as Lisa Strout)

Music Department 

A. David Marshall ... music editor (as David Marshall)

Script and Continuity Department 

Karin Liebrand ... script supervisor
Marita Simpson ... script supervisor

Transportation Department 

Kevin Hudis ... driver
Stephen R. Hudis ... driver (as Steve Hudis)

Other crew 

Peter Phillip Bayham ... production assistant (as Peter Bayham)
Rob Bloch ... animal wrangler
Robin Copeland ... assistant: David Schmoeller
Jeffrey Court ... production controller
Robert Dawson ... title designer: main titles
Robert Dollwet ... animal wrangler
Robert Ferguson ... production assistant: additional photography
Scott Firestone ... production accountant
Christina Fong ... production assistant
Eric Gruendemann ... production auditor
Glenn Herniter ... production assistant (as Glen Herniter)
Warren Sewell ... craft service
Sally Jo Sousa ... animal trainer: chimps
Debra Spidell ... production coordinator
Brett B. White ... puppeteer
Julia Mongrain ... production associate (uncredited)


Albert Band ... special thanks
Debra Dion ... special thanks