These pages are filled with nostalgia. It’s not that I necessarily want to live my life always looking in the rearview mirror, but I look back so fondly on my childhood that I’m just not willing to let it go. I don’t want to be unrealistic either. It wasn’t all perfect but all the uncertainty and anxiety is gone simply due to an adult perspective. That’s great, but I’m not willing to let go of the wonder and excitement I felt. I want to bottle that stuff up. That’s sort of the point of this site – a collection of moments that have brought me great personal joy.
This entry comes in a roundabout way and isn’t even from a movie that ever happened this way. In the early 90s, I fell in love with Charles Band’s Full Moon Entertainment. It started with Puppet Master, Subspecies and a few other quality titles. What kept me coming back, even when the quality started to wane, was the video magazine they put on after every feature, VideoZone. I would rent movies that I was only marginally interested in without hesitation because of these. I would scan Video Paradise’s new release wall for that little notation on the bottom of the box that advertised an all new edition of VideoZone. They did such a fantastic job of making me feel like an insider.
By the time Seedpeople rolled around in 1992, the movies were starting to feel like the product of an assembly line. It’s safe to say, that at this point, I was renting them primarily for the VideoZones. I was still interested in the flagship Puppet Master franchise though and so when I caught this little doozy in the merchandise section of the Seedpeople VideoZone, I was chomping at the bit.
This was part of a 1992 calendar that Charlie Spradling (at her most attractive) was selling. The camera then moves down to reveal that this is the image on top of the October page of the calendar.
It goes without saying that this was in the days before the internet. I took this as a guarantee that we’d be seeing Puppet Master IV by October. Not only would we be seeing Puppet Master IV, but we’d be seeing the puppets fight the toys from Demonic Toys. It all made perfect sense to me. After all, part III was advertised as “When Good Puppets Go Bad” and the teaser after the credits for part IV promised we’d be seeing “When Bad Puppets God Good”. They were obviously the heroes of the series by now anyway since they were killing Nazis the last time around.
Any doubts I had about Full Moon were now gone (how many times has someone ever said that with a straight face?) and I was ready to roll. What would any impatient kid do at this point? I started calling every video store that wasn’t long distance. A lot. I would usually call about once a week and ask if they had a release date on Puppet Master IV. Most would humor me and clack on the keyboard a bit and tell me that they didn’t have anything yet. I told I’d check back later, and I did. I wonder how annoying I was to the clerks. I’m betting that if they had caller ID back then, they would’ve stopped answering my calls after a while.
At first, I wasn’t worried at all. It was still a few months from October. I’d just keep checking. As summer grew to a close though, I saw nothing new. No mention in Fangoria, and more importantly, no mention on Full Moon VideoZones. By the time October rolled around, I was crestfallen. Looking back, this was only about five or six months, but at that age, it felt like years. No exaggeration there, this was even more frustrating than when I called all the local toy stores looking for the Nightmare On Elm Street game where you got to control Freddy.
I include this piece in my curious collection even though it ended in heartbreak. I feel slightly pathetic even typing that, but it’s true. Those few months where I thought it was going to happen were pretty amazing though. I imagined possible plots and fight scenarios endlessly. It’s important to me that I don’t lose sight of the trivial things that really mattered to me as a kid, and this version of Puppet Master IV really mattered to me.
The epilogue to this story isn’t much happier. Puppet Master 4 (not IV) was released toward the end of 1993. This one had Friday the 13th Part VIII alumnus Gordon Currie as the new puppet master. Try as I might, even I had to admit that the glory days of Full Moon were firmly in the past. This was only reinforced by Part 5 that was shot simultaneously. These only really look good in comparison to the non-Full Moon Puppet Master Vs Demonic Toys which was finally unleashed in 2004. This one featured Friday the 13th Part IV alumnus Corey Feldman as the new puppet master. No way to sugarcoat this one – it was terrible!