When you think of horror’s finest decade, some will argue that the 1980s was the period that put the genre on the map and into the modern social consciousness. It ushered in a number of infamous horror icons — characters that stand tall to this very day — and made the genre a household go-to for thrills and entertainment. It’s with this same fondness and nostalgia that the word “remake” is jeered and booed when it comes across the genre’s bow, and as history has shown, a remake is not always the best way to introduce a franchise to the modern cinema goer.
It happened with A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th, and neither modern incarnation was fondly remembered, both resulting in yet another reboot that is yet to see the light of the cinema foyer. Sometimes showing the original material to a modern audience is far more effective than tweaking the beloved characters who have become so iconic for the genre. On the back of this, the horror fans’ query is a simple one: Why change something that was so effective in the first place?
Many will argue that a character needs updating for a modern audience, but that’s not always true. A good character will always stand the test of cinema time. In light of that, one little horror franchise that dedicated fans will remember from the decade is Puppet Master, which eventually spawned nine sequels and became a cult hit. In news that might upset some horror fans worldwide, it was announced that the film is also scheduled to undergo the reboot treatment.
The news of the reboot comes from an official press release, as reported by Cinema Blend, which confirms that Di Bonaventura Pictures and Caliber Media have joined forces with Bone Tomahawk writer/director S. Craig Zahler and Charles Band (who remains producer for the Puppet Master brand and now runs Full Moon Pictures) to reboot the franchise. Rumors of a remake have been circulating for years, as revealed by Fangoria, but it seems some headway is finally being made.
The new film, currently titled Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich, is being written by Zahler and features the following story.
“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 seen 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 fact that the franchise has never set foot on a cinema screen is one major reason a reboot could be very good news for the Puppet Master franchise, but the title suggests that the film could be more of a sequel than a reboot. However, the information revealed above is tweaking the mythos, so this could go either way come the final script. With Lorenzo di Bonaventura involved, one of the producers for the Transformers franchise, can we expect to see Puppet Master in cinemas for the first time?
When Puppet Master was released in 1989, it slowly became a cult hit. However, unlike its more successful competitors at the time, the film was shirked for a theatrical release by Charles Band, who preferred to release the movie direct-to-video instead, a financial move that was practically unheard of at the time. It was a very risky decision but a wise one, and the film has since spawned nine sequels and become very popular in the video market. As a result of this decision, this move would define the history of Full Moon Pictures from that moment on, turning it into the direct-to-video behemoth it is today.
A theatrical release would be a wise move; the home video market flourished on VHS but has dimmed severely with digital technology. Modern formats like Blu-ray and DVD, not to mention online streaming services, have changed the perspective of the home video market, and it’s a completely different scene from the 1980s heyday. With di Bonaventura’s high-profile involvement, it’s sensible to expect Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich to see a theatrical release of some kind, followed by a huge push on VOD. Similar horror franchises have chosen this route recently, such as V/H/S and The ABC’s of Death, and fared extremely well.
Unlike many horror franchises, Puppet Master might actually benefit from a remake, and although the fans may disagree with this, they can’t deny that seeing a Puppet Master movie in a cinema, what with the 30th anniversary looming in 2019, would be a pretty special moment. With the anniversary on the horizon and the cult status of the franchise still bubbling to this day, this could also be the perfect time for a release. However, nothing is confirmed yet. But for fans of the original, they might just be smiling at the chance to be reunited with some of their favorite puppets.
[Image via Full Moon Features/ Paramount Pictures]