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Retro Puppet Master (1999)

In the late nineteenth century, an Ancient Egyptian sorcerer discovers the art of transferring the souls of the dead into inanimate objects.


(as Joseph Tennent)


(original story), (screenplay) (as Benjamin Carr)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Brigitta Dau ...
First Servant
Robert Radoveanu ...
Second Servant
Vitalie Bantas ...
Third Servant
Sando Teodor ...
Latour (as Sandu Teodor)
George Calin ...
Juliano Doman ...
Vlad Dulea ...
Dan Fintescu ...
Elvira Deatcu ...


It's 1892 and Sutekh is hopping mad. It seems a 3,000 year old Egyptian sorcerer has stolen one of the God's secrets of life - that of instilling the souls of the dying into inanimate things. Sutekh raises three mummified former high priests, led by the villainous "First Servant", and charges them with recovering both the Sorceror and his secret. There is no lack of victims for the 3 high-faluting, stylish villains as they pursue their prey to 19th century Paris, and the very young puppeteer, Andre Toulon. Toulon runs a puppet theatre in the heart of Paris, and meets the sorcerer (the mysterious Afzel) when he is found by the lovely Swiss Ambassador's daughter Ilsa, after being nearly killed. It is there and then that we find the seed of things to come, and the origin of the Puppetmaster series of tales. Written by Fred Bloggs

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The Legacy Begins...

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for horror violence | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

November 2005 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Puppet Master 7  »

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Did You Know?


Guy Rolfe's last film. See more »


A string is visible during the genesis of the puppets. See more »


Vigo: To do? Well, since there is neither a bribe nor a loose moral, Mademoiselle, attatched to the complaint, I suspect they'll do nothing.
See more »


Featured in Puppet Master: The Legacy (2003) See more »

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User Reviews

Not as bad as they say...
5 November 2006 | by (Mexico) – See all my reviews

In 1989, writer Charles Band and director David Schmoeller created "Puppet Master", an inventive horror film about a group of puppets magically brought to life by its maker, Andre Toulon, and took to America during World War II. While the original film and its sequel were basically straightforward slashers, the third film made an important big change in the format, moving away from horror to fantasy and setting the movie in the WWII, explaining how Toulon escaped from the War and moved to America. The following three films in the series had the Puppets as heroes and took place in the present, returning the gore and violence to the series by walking the fine line between horror and fantasy. "Retro Puppet Master", the seventh chapter of the Puppets' saga, takes the series again further into fantasy, telling the story about the origins of Andre Toulon and the Puppet's first adventure.

In turn of the century Paris, young puppeteer Andre Toulon runs a small puppet theater where every night he and his crew make a living. One night after a show, he meets Ilsa, the Swiss Ambassador's daughter who secretly watched his act, however, the circumstances of their meeting are not nice as Ilsa found the body of the mysterious Afzel after he was brutally attacked by a pair of thugs. Andre takes care of the wounded Afzel, who claims to be a 3000 years old sorcerer, but while at first he believes the man is crazy, soon Andre begins to believe, as the dying Afzel tells him the secret that will put Andre in danger for the rest of his life: the ancient gods' secret of giving life to inanimate things.

Ever since it was released, "Retro Puppet Master" became quite a controversial movie among fans of the series, as the screenplay (by Benjamin Carr) is definitely more a fantasy adventure than a horror film, making it receive many critics due to the lack of gore and suspense. Personally, I think the move really helps to the story, as for the first time in years the focus of the film is not on the Puppets, but on the Puppetmaster himself, so the toning down of the horror is a reasonable change. The story is also about how he met his future wife Ilsa, so romance plays a very important part of the story (another difference with the previous installments).

Directed by a long time Full Moon regular, the notorious David DeCoteau, "Retro Puppet Master" is surprisingly a change of tone from the typical late 90s Full Moon releases. It's a lot subtler, and even classier than other DeCoteau films, and is probably his best film in a long time. While the cinematography looks like the average TV movie and the special effects are of a terribly bad quality (due to budgetary constrains), the movie looks very good considering its a period piece, and even the score (by John Massari) fits the new tone of the film as a glove.

Newcomer Greg Sesstero has a big challenge when playing the younger version of a character that basically was created by the great Guy Rolfe (who has a cameo), however, Sestero makes a terrific job and adds a lot of charm to the role. Brigitta Dau makes a good job as Ilsa, and like Sestero often make sup her lack of experience with her charming personality. Jack Donner does a terrific low-key performance as Afzel, but the efforts of these three actors get ruined by the average performance of basically everyone else in the film.

Worth to point out are the terribly bad performances of the three servants (the main villains of the movie), who easily are the worst part of the film. While some of this may not be entirely their fault (as their lines are also the less inspired part of the script), their lack of talent make a bad role atrocious, as it literally kills what could had been a good movie. While I praised Carr's original take on Band's idea, it's safe to point out that his work does not help the film to reach its true potential, as some lines of dialog are simply awful. Many has been written about the simplistic special effects, and while sadly they are not on the level of the previous films (they are of TV Series quality at best), at least there isn't an overuse of them through the movie.

"Retro Puppet Master" has received a lot of what I think is an undeserved bash through the years, however, it's safe to say that it's one of the best film sin the series. While it certainly could had been a lot better, it really shows that Band was concerned in saving his beloved franchise (he would do a better job in "Legacy"), and DeCoteau's direction is remarkably effective (almost reminiscent of his better earlier work). While many fans don't like the change to fantasy, I think it was what this particular chapter needed. Watch it with an open mind and low expectations, and you'll be rewarded.


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