The Puppet Monster Massacre (2010)
You already know the formula by now – a bunch of teenagers are lured out into the middle of nowhere with the chance of winning some big money only to be bumped off one by one by a creature created by a mad, Nazi scientist. There’s some gratuitous nudity, plenty of insane gore and an assortment of characters including our “cowardly” hero who hopes to find his backbone and a movie-savvy nerd (who is, in this case, a lcharacter named Raimi Campbell and the highlight amongst many great moments). It’s the sort of movie that you could write in your sleep.
But take the above plot description and imagine all of the characters as puppets. Not marionettes but felt-formed Henson-style puppets. What is cliched and dull and laughably predictable immediately becomes something very different, something utterly hilarious at times. Think of Meet The Feebles crossed with an episode of South Park and you’re getting close to exactly what this is like.
Written and directed by Dustin Mills (who also lends his voice to the proceedings), this is obviously a low-budget labour of love but there are many times that see it nearing dizzying heights of insanity/genius. There may be one or two too many fart gags throughout the film but a) there are other gags that work much better and b) some of the fart gags are hilarious. You may not believe me, or it may not be something that is accepted by your sense of humour, but it’s true.
References to other films are thick and fast (there’s even a great use of the word “shazbot” from Mork & Mindy – ahhhh, remember how you used to love that show?) and there’s no attempt to pretend that this is anything other than an excuse for a series of gags, be they standard comedic moments or inventive and hilarious gore.
Everyone involved deserves a bit of praise for contributing to something that’s so daffy but also so damn loveable. It’s silly in the extreme but it’s also an affectionate dig at the genre best appreciated by those with a slightly warped sense of humour (hence why I enjoyed it so much). Mills, Steve Rimpici, Jessica Daniels, Bart Flynn, Ethan Holey, Erica Kisseberth and Brandon Salkil all get a mention for the vocal performances, at the very least. Many of the people involved took on various duties but it’s the puppets themselves and the voices that make the biggest impression, obviously.
Maybe best enjoyed with a few beers or best enjoyed in the company of others who share your sense of humour, this is one I heartily recommend. But only to those who already read the title and started imagining the fun possibilities.
WRITER/DIRECTOR: DUSTIN MILLS
STARS: DUSTIN MILLS, STEVE RIMPICI, JESSICA DANIELS, BART FLYNN, ETHAN HOLEY, ERICA KISSEBERTH, BRANDON SALKIL
RUNTIME: 70 MINS APPROX