When it comes to horror, the golden days of the 1980's are a hard act to live up to. Among the deeper cuts of the monsters that haunted the decade of permanent Halloween was the creatures of the Puppet Master franchise, which comprised of a group of puppets that each possessed a special, deadly attribute that made them the most efficient killers in the land of the large. Well Lorenzo di Bonaventura, one of the producers on the Transformers franchise, remembers those beasties as well as you do, and he's helping bring them back in a big way.
The news comes from an official press release that states di Bonaventura Pictures and Caliber Media have teamed up with Bone Tomahawk writer/director S. Craig Zahler and Puppet Master producer, and Full Moon Pictures big wig, Charles Band, in order to reboot the famous franchise. Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich is being written by Zahler, produced by Band, and features the following story at the heart of its reboot:
THE LITTLEST REICH follows a recently divorced young man who discovers a mint condition Blade doll in his deceased brother’s closet and plans to sell the toy at a convention in Oregon celebrating the 30th anniversary of the infamous Toulon Murders. All hell breaks loose at the Postville Lodge during the auction when a strange force animates all of the various puppets throughout the convention as they go on a bloody killing spree.
So right off the bat, Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich is changing the story up by making Andre Toulon one of the bad guys. Typically, Toulon is a good guy who controls the rogue group of puppets, as the series mythos expanded over time to show him opposing the Nazis. However, seeing as this is an initial synopsis, "the Toulon Murders" could ultimately be see as a frame job, or not even involve Andre Toulon in the first place. At the very least, Blade is still part of the line-up, so there's hope that even if the plot's been changed a little, the same puppets we all know and love will be returning for a modern overhaul. Still, reading over this new announcement, there's another question we can't help but ask with Lorenzo di Bonaventura in the producer's chair: could this be the first Puppet Master we see in theaters?
The history of the Puppet Master franchise has always been one of the direct-to-video variety. While the original 1989 film was supposed to have a theatrical release, Full Moon Pictures decided to go the home video route. Charles Band did this because he felt the film would make more money on video, and little did he know that this decision would define the company's history from that moment forward, turning Full Moon in to the direct-to-video juggernaut that it eventually became. But considering how the home video market isn't what it used to be, as well as di Bonaventura's high profile as a producer, we'd think that at the very least Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich would see a limited theatrical release, followed by a robust VOD launch, much like recent horror franchises V/H/S and The ABC's of Death.
It's always a little scary to see a film like Puppet Master become the target of a modern remake, but Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich could be an effective way to reintroduce the world to the legendary horror series. While there's no production start date or release date in mind at the moment, the 30th anniversary aspect of the story leads us to believe that we're looking at a 2019 release for the latest adventure of Blade, Leech Woman, and the rest of the Puppet Master gang. We'll see what happens, and report any breaking developments as they happen.