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Curse of the Puppet Master (1998)

Directed by David DeCoteau, Curse of the Puppet Master is the film responsible for reviving the Puppet Master franchise after it was officially ended in 1994 with Puppet Master 5: the Final Chapter. It opens at a doll museum called The House of Marvels where we find André Toulon’s beloved puppets in a cage whilst their new master Dr. Magrew (George Peck) is putting something into a crate. As he leaves he promises the puppets that things will be different next time. Dr. Magrew is then seeing driving into the woods where he sets the crate on fire. You can hear a tiny voice(s) screaming.

The film then jumps to the next morning where Dr. Magrew’s daughter, Jane (Emily Harrison), has come home from college. She asks her father about Matt, his assistant. Her father tells her that Matt left, since his father was ill. They then drive into town to take their minds off thing sand meet Robert “Tank” Winsley (Josh Green), a very tall but meek young man, works at the gas station in town. Tank likes to carve small wooden statues. Unfortunately he is bullied by Joey Carp (Michael D. Guerin) and is being tormented as Jane and Dr. Magrew. Luckily they get Joey to leave then Jane spots a wooden statue Tank has carved and shows it to her father. He is impressed and offers Tank a job helping at the House of Marvels, which he accepts.

Tank is immediately introduced to Toulon’s puppets and is shocked and amazed by them and just how Dr. Magrew came into them is revealed over dinner where he explains that he bought the puppets at an auction years ago, and that he tried to make a living puppet just like Toulons’, but has never been successful. He asks Robert if he’ll help him carve a puppet, to which he agrees. The next day, during the show, the town sheriff, Sheriff Garvey (Robert Donavan) and Deputy Wayburn (Jason-Shane Scott) arrive. They tell Dr. Magrew that Matt has been reported missing and wonder if Magrew’s seen him since he left. He insists that he has not, but they do not seem convinced.

That night, Dr. Magrew gives Tank the wood and the blueprints for the puppet but Tank states that he does not understand how the puppet will live. Dr. Magrew tells him the way to make a dead thing live is: “You put your soul into it” so Tank begins carving and works non-stop to complete the puppet. At dinner a few nights later, Dr. Magrew mentions that Matt did carving for him as well but whilst his had quality, Tank’s work has perfection, which is what he wants to make.

That night Tank has a scary dream where he wakes up and finds that his legs have turned into carved, wooden legs, like a puppet he confides in Jane who tells him he is working too hard. They soon become romantically involved. Then the following night Tank has another nightmare, but this time, his entire body (minus his head) is wooden, complete with inner clockwork gears. Jane convinces him to take a break so they drive to the woods for a walk. During their walk they stumble on the box Dr. Magew burned at the beginning of the film and discover what is in it…

 

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