Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Erica Slider, Andrew Rose, Nina Tepes, Tom Wooler
Written & Directed by Jay Gowey
When your movie is only 65-minutes long it shouldn’t have a wasted moment. Your film should be zipping along at such a pace that there isn’t a moment to spare. Puppet Show is another one of those homemade efforts that suffers from the sensation that things are lingering far longer than they should. There’s a whole stretch of this film where the movie itself just seemed to be loitering about. Even something as simple as a woman preparing to take a bath takes considerably longer than it should. The last thing a microbudget filmmaker should do is include scenes where nothing’s happening. If those nothing happening scenes were meant to build suspenseful, well, then there really wasn’t anything happening. Puppet Show screeches to a halt after the first 15-minutes and never recovers.
Another one of those Faustian pacts that always goes bad for the mortal, Ringmaster Rick, the host of an old black & white kiddy puppet show titled “Circus Town” sells his soul and that of his future family to a demon that promises him fame and fortune by animating his clown marionette, Charlie Chowderhead. All is well until Charlie’s puppeteer falls to his death from above the stage during a live show; “Circus Town” gets canned and Charlie ends up locked away in storage for decades. But a deal’s a deal, and as soon as Charlie is unboxed the bloodshed begins Puppet Master-style. First, the elderly Ringmaster Rick pays his dues and then Charlie turns his attention towards Rick’s tattooed granddaughter and any of her friends that might get in the way.
Puppet Show is at its best when showing us the clips of the old “Circus Town” show, dutifully recreating the look and atmosphere of a “Howdy Doody” type program from the golden age of television even if Ringmaster Rick’s human clown sidekick looked more like John Wayne Gacy than a 1950’s TV clown. Something tells me that may have been intentional. Charlie Chowderhead looks even more sinister, sort of like Bozo the Clown reinvented as a death metal mascot. These flashback scenes displayed more creativity than anything to follow.
The demonic puppet may look cool but it says or does little of interest. The premise is more than a little familiar and plays out in such a familiar manner that it’s also of little interest. Lack of interest is pretty much the story here.
Aside from the guy playing Ringmaster Rick, the actors are every bit as wooden as their marionette co-star. The measly four kills are rather unexceptional and even though there’s gratuitous nudity, me personally, I didn’t find the women all that attractive.
But these problems might not have seemed as problematic had the film just not been so dilatory. Pick up the pace, people. You’re working on a shoestring budget, your resources are limited, and your film’s running time is barely feature length; if I may dare quote Bill O’Reilly of all people: “Keep it pithy.”
And, to be quite honest, a bit more imaginative script would have helped too.
1 1/2 out of 5