Attack of the Puppet People

Tagged: Film

Film (1958; vt Six Inches Tall UK; vt The Fantastic Puppet People). Alta Vista Productions/American International Pictures. Directed and produced by Bert I Gordon. Written by George Worthing Yates from an original idea by Gordon. Cast includes John Agar, John Hoyt, June Kenney (credited as June Kenny) and Jack Kosslyn. 79 minutes. Black and white.

Lonely doll-maker Mr Franzy (Hoyt) hires attractive Sally Reynolds (Kenney) as his new secretary. Soon, she begins dating Bob Westley (Agar), who proposes to Sally and is accepted; a relocation to St Louis, Missouri, is necessary. Bob then vanishes without explanation. Sally realizes that several others who previously worked for Franzy or knew him well have recently disappeared, and contacts the police. Sergeant Paterson (Kosslyn) isn't greatly interested, even though two of those she names are on the missing persons list. On her return Franz, knowing her and Bob's plans, renders Sally unconscious; when she awakens, she is only six inches tall. Bob and the others have met the same fate. It proves that Franz is extremely lonely, and – being a Mad Scientist as well as a toymaker – he has invented a Miniaturization machine using audio waves that somehow reduce people to doll size. He does this to people he likes, to prevent them from leaving him. Various escape attempts fail; attacks by rats, a cat, and a dog are survived. Franz decides he must kill his "puppet persons", and presumably himself, but first plans to use them in a final "puppet show". Sally and Bob escape, use the machine to regain normal size, and then call the police to the theatre. The fate of the other shrunken people, and of Franz, is left unclear.

Clearly made to capitalize on the success of The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957), Attack of the Puppet People uses oversized props to reasonable effect; John Hoyt gives a strong performance as the demented doll-maker. Though minor, it is far from being the worst Gordon genre production. In a drive-in movie sequence, the film showing is Gordon's The Amazing Colossal Man (1957). [GFi]

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