Attack of the Puppet People - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Attack of the Puppet People Reviews

Page 1 of 3
April 2, 2016
Odd acting and a somewhat misleading title but still relatively interesting
Super Reviewer
½ March 4, 2016
Another movie based on tiny miniaturised people, familiar huh, well that's not surprising seeing as this movie was rushed into production riding on the coattails of similar themed movie 'The Incredible Shrinking Man'. Although to be fair, this movie is vastly different in terms of plot to the Jack Arnold feature. Once again the movies poster is completely misleading, much like the movies title. For starters there is no attacking by the shrunken people, and they aren't really puppet people either, they are specifically referred to as dolls throughout. Although there is one scene towards the end where they are forced to take part in a puppet show, but that still doesn't justify the title. As for the poster, well again what you see never happens, they don't fight a large animal like that, they don't utilise any large weapons. Again towards the end two of the tiny people have to fend off a dog, buts that's all.

The plot is quite unusual really, its not really a horror or a sci-fi, its almost more of a fable or fairytale of sorts. The plot follows a lonely old man by the name of Mr. Franz (John Hoyt). Franz is a doll maker, he creates children's doll entirely by himself, he also repairs them and often ventures into the realms of puppets too. He is well known within his field, held in high regard, his dolls are famous for their detail, their overall craftsmanship. The strange thing is, certain people who have worked for him, or have known him, have a tendency to vanish without a trace. The other strange thing is, Franz has a special collection of dolls, in glass containers, that all have eerie similarities to these very people. Franz claims that he models his dolls after people he has known, but his latest secretary Sally (June Kenney) grows highly suspicious after her fiance disappears and a doll turns up looking just like him. As Sally delves deeper, involving the police, Franz takes steps to ensure her silence, and before she knows what's hit her, Sally joins the special collection of dolls. It is then we discover that Franz doesn't want to hurt his special dolls, he merely wants them to be with him forever, his special friends, he wants to look after them and promises them a life of no worries or stress. Despite initial troubles trying to get the other tiny people on their side, Sally and her fiance Bob (John Agar) eventually manage to organise an escape plan.

Now for the most part this film is (as already touched upon) slightly misleading. Film title and poster aside, you could be forgiven for thinking most of this movie revolves around the adventures of shrunken people trying to get back to normal proportions, but you'd be wrong. Most of the movie revolves around Franz trying to keep his secret under wraps from the world whilst he carries on his daily routine of doll manufacturing and maintenance. The whole crux of this movie is Franz and his loneliness, he is a sad elderly character whose wife left him many many years prior which seems to have affected his mental state badly. So badly in fact that he invented a machine purely to shrink people down to doll-size so he can keep them as pets. Strangely enough he is not a bad person though, he's not a cackling, evil villain, hell bend on world domination, no. Neither is he a psychological maniac looking to torture and harm people. This old man merely wants companionship as he grows old, people to talk to and have parties with, nothing wrong with that. Obviously the horror aspect comes in when he captures people and shrinks them with his hand made machine...ironically a machine which would surely bring him much fame, fortune and attention if he shared it with the world.

But again this isn't really a horror, or sci-fi, it has more of a fairytale vibe to it, mainly because Franz looks after the people he shrinks. He doesn't use them for hard labour, or slavery or anything like that, he treats them well, makes them special clothes, food, has parties for them etc...In return the people he has shrunk have actually become slightly brainwashed over time and come to enjoy their small lifestyles, the lack of work related stress, the daily grind of reality. In the end you actually feel sorry for Franz when his little people escape and regain control of the machine, returning back to their regular sizes. He isn't worried about being caught by the police anymore, he's more scared of being left alone, with no companionship, its sad and shows us maybe he is just misunderstood (yet clearly needing help).

So yes there isn't too much tiny action going on until at least the halfway point. Once the main two protagonists are shrunk down things do get a but more interesting, but not overly so. Again this isn't an action sci-fi, we don't get any fighting or giant spiders. What you get is the small team of shrunken people chatting about their tiny lifestyle, how they kinda like it, discussing the pros and cons and eventually discussing escape. Once the escape plan is put into action then we do get some typically predictable miniature sized action of sorts, by that I mean them trying to switch on the machine to enlarge themselves again. These sequences are visually the most striking as they utilise giant sized props (doorknobs, telephones, scissors etc...) to create the shrunken illusion, admittedly nothing amazing if you've seen other similar films of this genre, but nonetheless very effective and they still hold up today. Later on when the tiny people try to escape for the second time we don't get these nice practical effects, its all rear screen projection against live action footage which always looks hokey.

The movie is a fun ride there's no doubting that, its more of a talkie adventure for sure but luckily the amazing performance by John Hoyt as the creepy yet endearing Franz keeps you solidly engaged. Honesty I can't stress enough how perfect Hoyt is here, the man is a legend of B-movie fluff and making that fluff actually semi decent. Whilst this movie is a solid offering its still naturally very cheesy and full of problems. I mean lets be honest here, surely most people would be able to tell a real human being from a doll?? Sure the human might be doll-sized but surely it would be noticeably very human. I do like the fact that the special dolls in their glass containers are clearly just small cardboard photo cut outs. Then you have the quite glaringly obvious plot hole of...why don't the shrunken folk ever run away? I understand they are tiny and thusly at a great risk from many things, and I understand that Franz takes good care of them. But at first they say they were angry with Franz for shrinking them, which is natural, so surely anyone would have simply run off, very easy to disappear at that size. Its very very weird that they all accept their fate as dolls which get put into suspended animation for weeks, possibly months at a time. Oh yes, Franz has also managed to invent hyper sleep basically, this guy is fecking genius and should be working for NASA earning top dollar! Why the hell is he acting like such a loser feeling sorry for himself??

There are plenty of other funny little bits that I noticed also, such as Franz merely throwing in the bin evidence of the fact he knows where certain missing peoples are. I mean come on! no wonder Sally finds it sheesh! I also liked the badly mimed sing song moment towards the end when Franz's pets enact a play with him in his puppet theatre. The fact that when Sally and Bob escape they don't go to the police, they also could have easily enlarged themselves way back in the middle of the film when they first attempt to escape...loads of time, and why Franz thinks he must kill all his living dolls when the police get a bit too close for comfort, just enlarge them again dude. I also liked Bert I. Gordon's blatant nod to his other movie 'The Amazing Colossal Man' during this film, which, I might add, is the second bloody time he's done that! He also stuck a nod to 'The Amazing Colossal Man' in 'Earth vs. the Spider' whilst adding a nod to this movie too! both in 'Earth vs. the Spider', talk about self promotion! But I guess the biggest mystery of this movie is the fact that we don't find out what happens to the other shrunken people. Both Sally and Bob escape and manage to enlarge themselves again, but the other four people just vanish. I guess we are meant to think they eventually get found and enlarged, but who knows, maybe a rat ate them all.

So what can I say about this movie in the end? It doesn't compare to the superior 'The Incredible Shrinking Man', yet it offers a fresh plot which is good. The effects are very similar of course but not as spectacular as said shrinking movie. Hoyt steals the show where as everyone else is passable, where as the plot is really all about a lonely old man who can only relate to people when they are doll-sized, so he can manipulate them and the situation to his liking. Not so much about adventures of tiny shrunken people. Yes its basically very fairytale-esque, an old toy maker with magical powers who thinks he's not harming anyone by trying to bring a little happiness into his glum life. He's like a selfish old wizard or witch that doesn't realise they are being selfish and kinda evil. I guess the moral of the tale could be, always be yourself, don't try to force people into friendships, and errr...don't shrink them down to the size of a doll and keep them as pets either.
½ June 25, 2015
Very misleading title, because there seems to be no "attack" and no violence and thrills what so ever. The ending is really what spoils the whole film; I was waiting for action and murder but no: plain and no fun. But still, it was kind of fun to watch this movie.
March 21, 2015
More goofy low budget special effects and fun from writer/director Bert I. Gordon, the man who brought us "War of the Colossal Beast," "Empire of the Ants" and many other goofy cult classics. A mad scientist creates a machine that shrinks people down to puppet size. He has a fine collection of puppet people who he holds captive in his lab and who he gets out to play with throughout the film, eventually wanting to put on a puppet show with them. The puppet people all the while are trying to figure out how to escape. It's all very silly, but it's a pretty good time.
½ March 17, 2015
really horrible mess
May 11, 2014
Attack of the Puppet People is, most importantly, a misleading title for a movie about a man who shrinks human beings to make dolls out of and play with in his shop. The man is lonely and can only be happy with these little people under his command. He's not a mean person though, but he goes to great lengths to hide his secret. The thing is though that the puppet people never attack anyone for any reason. They just simply try to escape, as one might expect. Escape of the Puppet People might have been a better title actually, but less interesting. As is, the movie falls below mediocre and falls into 'so bad it's good' territory. Not totally, but there are aspects of it like that. Rifftrax recently did a riffing on it, if that tells you anything.
½ November 19, 2013
So there's really no "puppet people" in this and they don't attack anyone anyway, but "Attack of the Puppet People" certainly has a better ring to it than "Doll People Try to Escape", so let's give Gordon a break. This is one of his better films anyway, with a villain that's really quite sympathetic since he's really just trying to keep those he really likes close to him. Hoyt is really great here, as is John Agar. The ending is pretty anticlimactic, but otherwise, this is a minor gem.
½ October 7, 2012
Well, they're not really puppets and they never attack. So, there's that.
May 25, 2012
Campy and FUN !!! LOL
March 26, 2012
The for runner for the puppet master movies. If you enjoyed this movie, check out Dr. Cyclone (1940)
October 31, 2011
Not at all scary, but it is amusing.
July 29, 2011
This b+w movie was brilliant. A man works in a doll factory. People that work near him or for him are going missing. He makes them into dolls. Such a great fun movie. NETFIX rocks!!!
July 1, 2011
Watchable 50s B-Movie from Bert I Gordon about insane, lonely doll maker, well played by John Hoyt, who turns people into dolls and keeps in jars. John Agar is the hero and Laurie Mitcehll his girl.
½ December 18, 2010
Vintage late 50's sci-fi film keeps your attention as our dollmaker has too little friends and too much time on his hands. While almost comical, this gay like guy who loves dolls creates them in his shop. If he takes a fancy to someone living, he reduces them to a doll.

John Hoyt is a doll manufacturer and he's lonely. In order to have constant (and obedient) company he takes unsuspecting people into the back room of his shop and shrinks them.

The little people are kept in class tubes and taken out for parties and dancing on the table table. Recently chrunk John Agar rebels, and leads an escape plot. Decides he has had enough and attacks, by destroying the Dr. Jeckel marionette.

---"Although criticized for its weak plot and poor special effects, the film has gained somewhat of a cult status among fans of the B movie genre and this led to its ultimate release by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer on DVD as part of the "Midnite Movies" collection." (per Wikipedia)

A low budget picture obviously, this one still held my interest. I wish I could say the same about the dame who just slapped me at my Cafe Americain.

John Hoyt
John Agar
June Kenney
Jack Kosslyn
Michael Mark
Scott Peters
Marlene Willis

Executive Producer: Samuel Z. Arkoff
Director: Bert I. Gordon
Composer: Albert Glasser
Producer: Burt I. Gordon
Art Director: Walter E. Keller
Cinematographer: Ernest Laszlo
Executive Producer: James H. Nicholson
Editor: Ronald Sinclair
Screenplay: George W. Yates
Set Decorator : Frank Webster
November 20, 2010
Evil Dollmaker with a traumatic relationship in the past shrinks people and forces them to party and dance at his convenience.

One slutty dame doll/person don't mind, but the others make a fight for it

A policeman with lots of missing persons on his desk is getting close, without knowing it himself.

Classic '50's shrinking-people-drama in sweet black and white. Hillarious effects.
Super Reviewer
November 17, 2010
The title is misleading, unlike other fifties movies of this kind, and should be called attack of the puppet master instead. The guy turns these people into puppets, and they have to try to get back to normal. It's a pretty simple story, and it's kind of cute, but not all that good in the end. It's just okay.
October 16, 2010
Bert I. Gordon shrinks the base line for size in this yarn! If you mess with the creepy doll maker, the creepy doll maker will turn you into a toy. The title is false advertising...there are puppets...but they don't attack at all...
½ March 30, 2010
I thought this was an interesting and well made piece of sci fi. A puppet maker discovers a way to make humans into little puppets by way of a gonzo machine and threatens the very well-being of the secretaries in his hire! Some of the special effects (especially the shrunken people in the cases) do look phony, but there's still some imaginary set pieces, and cool attempts as special effects. The ending is a bit off (just why ARE little girls wandering around office buildings in the early early morning?), but oh well, you can laugh at it and not feel guilty.
½ November 1, 2009
A lonely doll maker turns people tiny when ever they try to leave him. Hoyt is solid in the lead but the rest of the cast is lazy and apathetic. The script is really weak and has no real action or scares. There was no attacking and no puppet people. As far as really bad movies go it wasn't even particularly funny.
September 5, 2009
Wasn't to bad. However i dont see why it is considered a comedy.
Page 1 of 3