by Joe Meyers


Not Rated – 1 hour 30 minutes – Release Date: May 17, 2018 (in cinemas and VOD)


Directed by Sonny Laguna and Tommy Wiklund
Written by S. Craig Zahler
Based on characters created by Charles Band and Kenneth J. Hall

Thomas Lennon as Edgar
Jenny Pellicer as Ashley
Nelson Franklin as Markowitz
Barbara Crampton as Carol Doreski
Michael Paré as Detective Brown
Charlyne Yi as Nerissa
Udo Kier as Andre Toulon
Anne Beyer as Hedwig Wagner
Alex Beh as Howie
Skeeta Jenkins as Cuddly Bear

I have fond memories of Charles Band and David Schmoeller’s 1989 cult classic PUPPET MASTER, so I was excited when I heard that PUPPET MASTER: THE LITTLEST REICH was rebooting the franchise. That phrase makes some people’s blood run cold, but fear not. The deal in place allows the original franchise to continue on while this film is the beginning of a whole new, and separate franchise. Think of it as a Puppet Master series beamed in from an alternate universe. Last night I attended the Los Angeles premiere of PUPPET MASTER: THE LITTLEST REICH at the American Cinematheque Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, and it pleases me to say the film is a horror fan’s dream.

The plot revolves around Edgar, a newly divorced comic book writer and artist played by Thomas Lennon, who is forced to temporally move in with his parents. While going through his deceased brother’s room he runs across a strange puppet. Research reveals it’s a collector’s item because it was made by Andre Toulon, played by the always great Udo Kier, an infamous murder killed thirty year prior. It turns out the 30th anniversary of Toulon’s death at the hands of the police and the discovery of his murders is coming up. A huge convention is planned, also containing an auction, and down on his luck Edgar decides to take a road trip to sell the puppet. Of course, evil plans have other ideas and all of the Toulon puppets come to life and wreak havoc of the convention attendees.

The script was by S. Craig Zahler (BONE TOMAKAWK and CELL BLOCK 99) was so well balanced. There were bits of pure horror woven in with character moments, and some great comedic bits, while never feeling cheesy or tongue in cheek in any way. Additionally the directing by Sonny Laguna and Tommy Wiklund was stellar. From what producer Dallas Sonnier, and co-producer Amanda Presmyk said in the post-screening Q&A this really was a labor of love from all involved with putting the film together because nearly all of them were huge fans of the original PUPPET MASTER.


The cast was amazing across the board. Thomas Lennon played Edgar with a real world earnestness that was great to see. Jenny Pellicer as Ashely, in her first horror film role ever, nailed a perfect balance in the co-lead as Edgar’s girlfriend. She’s smart, funny, quirky, cool, and totally badass. The other main character is Markowitz, played by Nelson Franklin. He’s the wise-ass friend, and boss, of Edgar who manages to not just be a snarky punchline machine. The before mentioned Udo Kier is joined by fellow legend Barbara Crampton, playing Carol Doreski, the retired officer who helped take Andre Toulon down thirty years ago. Michael Paré, playing Detective Brown who is investigating all of the sudden murders at the convention hotel chews the scenery in the best way possible. Cuddly Bear, the scene stealing character played by Skeeta Jenkins, shows up around the mid-point of the movie and is my favorite in the film.

Tate Steinsiek, the creature and puppet designer and special effects coordinator, and his crew deserve all the praise in the world. They did an incredible job with all the practical effects and the puppet redesigns were outstanding. It really is breath taking what they were able to accomplish on a low-budget. There were two kill scenes in particular that were mind-blowing, and stuff I’ve never seen done in all my years of being a horror fan. I promise you’ll know which two I’m speaking of, and I’m positive everyone else will be talking about them once they see the movie.

This is a perfect example of a film to see with a crowd. So, either catch it at the cinema or buy it on VOD gather fellow horror loving friends and family to watch. Order some pizza, have a few beers, stock up on chips and dips and have a fun night. Watching PUPPET MASTER: THE LITTLEST REICH brought back great memories of being in middle school, renting a ton of horror movies from the local mom and pop video store and spending the weekend hanging out with friends watching them over a Friday and Saturday night. I truly enjoyed this movie, recommend it, and look forward to buying it this Friday so I can watch it again. Also, stay/watch through the credits!

PMTLR2Post-Q&A photo with panel moderator Jonah Ray, stars Udo Kier, Thomas Lennon, Nelson Franklin, Jenny Pellicer, co-producer Amanda Presmyk, and producer Dallas Sonnier

What The Hell Is Chris Watching Now? – Alien Contamination (1980)


Pop quiz: What do you get when you borrow from Lucio Fulci, Ridley Scott, and Cronenberg and use Columbian drug money to help finance it? That’s right, Fright Fans! You get this sci-fi horror production, Alien Contamination (aka Contamination).

Following his success of the 1978 “space opera”Starcrash, Luigi Cozzi wanted to stay in the realm of sci-fi for his next film. After seeing Ridley Scott’s legendary classic, Alien, Cozzi decided he wanted to make pretty much his own version but on a fraction of the budget. Keeping the eggs, the acid, and an alien creature, but keeping the setting to just Earth, Cozzi was underway. Shot in just 8 weeks with locations in Rome, New York City, Florida, and Columbia (we’ll get back to that one), Cozzi had his film.

“Da suits! Day do nothing!!!”

Now granted, also because of the budget, the big alien creature wasn’t stop motion and was animatronic instead, the creature wasn’t what Cozzi wanted. As the viewer, you only get to see random quick, poorly lit shots of the entire creature. But by that point you don’t really care.


This is where the Cronenberg influence comes in. The acid from the eggs? Well, it’s actually spores released by the eggs when they are in a hot and moist environment. When the spores explode from the eggs, anyone that is splattered by the eggs also explodes!!! In a few of the shots, you get the impression that Cozzi spent a good chunk of the budget on the sternal and gut explosions that happen several times throughout the film. Some are slightly laughable but others are fairly impressive. The graphic nature and slow motion filming of the bodily explosions actually earned Alien Contamination a spot on the “Video Nasties” list for excessive blood and gore.


Crap. I just realized I hadn’t even mentioned an important thing: the plot! A derelict cargo ship coming into the harbor in New York City doesn’t answer any hails. Upon searching the boat, the harbor patrol, a scientist, and a cop find a few dead bodies and a curious collection of pulsating eggs, that look like footballs made from alligator hide, in the boiler room by some steam pipes. Now remember what I said makes the eggs go boom? Yep. Welcome to the game, Victim #1!!!

Bring in more scientists and more government agencies, and we learn the eggs came from space (dun-dun-DAH!) when two astronauts (one played by Ian McCulloch of Zombi fame) returned to Earth. Someone has been hiding and producing more eggs on a Columbian coffee plantation for their own nefarious plots (or are they??) for world domination!

Talk about “walking on eggshells”!

Okay. All the Columbian stuff? Yes, this film was partially financed with Columbian drug money. Hell, a couple of the gunmen that greet the cop and the scientist at the plantation probably weren’t even actors and provided their own guns! Cozzi did say that the drug smugglers where pleased when the film turned a profit on their investment, though.

In the end . . . oh yeah. The ending. This hits the Fulci influence home for me. With the derelict ship floating into the harbor and an ending shot showing NYC again and a potential threat within it, I thought I was watching Zombi again. Seriously, fright fans, this is not a great movie by any means, but it was fun to watch it for what it is. Watch it with friends, have a few laughs, and be surprised by the bodies going *BOOM*.

Trailer for “Contamination”

Episode 150 – A Piece of The (Castle) Rock


We celebrate our 150th episode by doing a deep dive into the first half of the Hulu series CASTLE ROCK. So deep that the episode has an extra 40 minutes!

Warning: If you haven’t watched through Episode 5, you might want to wait to listen. This one is super spoilery and full of discuss and theories.

Episode 150 – A Piece of The (Castle) Rock

[Film Review] THE MEG

by Joe Meyers


Release Date: August 10, 2018 * Rated PG-13 * Run time: 1 hour 53 minutes

Directed by Jon Turteltaub
Screenplay by Dean Georgaris, Jon Hoeber, and Erich Hoeber
Based on the book, “Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror”, by Steve Alten

Jason Statham as Jonas Taylor
Bingbing Li as Suyin
Rainn Wilson as Morris
Cliff Curtis as Mac
Winston Chao as Zhang
Shuya Sophia Cai as Meiying
Ruby Rose as Jaxx
Page Kennedy as DJ
Robert Taylor as Heller
Ólafur Darri Ólafsson as The Wall
Jessica McNamee as Lori
Masi Oka as Toshi

The Meg Pic 2

I could go into detail with a traditional film critique of THE MEG, but why? I’m sure there’s at least a dozen of posts out there with some variation of  the “Meg is Meh” hacky review shredding the films for its flaws. This won’t be one of those, I assure you. Instead I’ll simply ask some questions to start.

Did the trailer for THE MEG make you go “Hell yeah!!!” when you saw you were getting a Jason Statham verses Megalodon film? If so, go see the movie. Did the trailer make you think it looked stupid, and ridiculous, and you’ve got five other films currently in the cinema that’s on your watch list? Then, skip THE MEG and go see one of them instead. Do you fall anywhere in between those two examples? I’d advise you just wait for streaming, VOD, DVD, or Blu-ray.

For me, THE MEG was just as dumb, nonsensical, crazy, cheesy, and fun as I thought it would be…and I enjoyed it from start to finish. I do wish we would be able to see the original film they wanted to bring us, in all its bloody R rated glory. The cast did feel a bit wasted in what morphed into an action-horror-comedy, but as both director Jon Turteltaub and star Jason Statham have said in recent interviews “it is what it is.” I’m paraphrasing, of course.

At the end of the day this falls in line with ALLIGATOR, LAKE PLACID, DEEP BLUE SEA, and the like. Nobody will argue they’re near JAWS in quality. However, THE MEG will fit nicely into a human versus beast movie marathon alongside them all. So, whether you catch it (no pun intended, I swear) at the cinema soon or at home with family and friends, surrounded by pizza and tasty beverages, in a few months, just know that you’re getting exactly as they advertised…Jason Statham fighting a big, damn prehistoric shark for nearly two hours.

The Meg Pic1