I was a pretty skittish kid, as my previous traumafession about a book cover should attest to. It didn’t take a lot to give me nightmares and horror movies terrified me. However, this fear eventually developed into a morbid curiosity and I decided to watch some of these movies. After seeing THE OMEN and a few others, I was hooked and became the horror nut I am today.
You wouldn’t expect much to get to me after the seriously creepy OMEN, but sometimes kindertrauma comes from unexpected places. I was staying over with a friend of mine for the first time, this was during the early to mid-nineties and I was probably seven or eight. During the summers, the Sci-Fi Channel would show themed movie marathons every night. That night the marathon was the first three PUPPET MASTER movies. I didn’t really want to watch them because the idea of killer toys really freaked me out at the time, and still does to a certain extent. But my friend insisted and I didn’t want to be a stick in the mud, so a bowl of popcorn was popped, the lights were dimmed, and we sat down to enjoy the show.
I actually really enjoyed the movies, plausibly because most of the really nasty gore was edited out for television or because all of PUPPET MASTER movies have kind of a non-threatening comic book tone about them. Either way, I got through all three with nary a problem. Or so I thought.
That night, when I finally went to sleep, I had a nightmare involving those pesky puppets. I don’t remember much beyond two of the little critters, the bladed-hand, KLAUS KINSKI-type and the one with a drill for a head, chasing me up the stairs of my home. And, since this was a nightmare, I couldn’t run and could only slowly stumble up the stairs. Naturally, I woke up in a cold sweat just as the malevolent marionettes were about to close in on me. I didn’t sleep for the rest of the night. I didn’t want to risk the teasing I would have gotten if I woke my friend up, so I had to fake sleeping for the reminder of the night. I remember jumping at every odd noise or shadow.
I figured the bad dream was just because I was anxious about my first sleepover. But, nope, because later that year, during Christmas break, when I ended up watching another one of the series entries, I had the same damn dream. Except it was Christmas time, which made the whole thing even eerier. Obviously CHARLES BAND‘s creations had spooked me on a subconscious level. Needless to say (but I’ll say it anyway), I swore the franchise off for years. Until recently, when I bought the box set on a whim and all the memories came flooding back. I’ve been enjoying the movies, am excited about the recently announced new sequel, and haven’t had any nightmares.
UNK SEZ: ZACK, Thanks for bringing up PUPPET MASTER. I’m always amazed by the loyalty that series inspires. Some folks are just mad about those films and know every little minutia of detail about it’s timelines and characters. Who would have thought after the first film that this whole little mini-universe would be created and with such a loyal following? It’s also funny you should mention the puppet Blade’s resemblance to KLAUS KINSKI, original PUPPETMASTER Director DAVID SCHMOELLER worked with KINSKI on the 1986 movie CRAWLSPACE. Apparently the two did not get along as well as KINSKI and often collaborator WERNER HERZOG ,for where HERZOG made a documentary about his relationship with KLAUS entitled MY BEST FIEND, SCHMOELLER’S nine minute doc on the same subject matter is entitled PLEASE KILL MR. KINSKI!
To read more by Zack, be sure to check his blog Film Thoughts.