After threatening audiences with The Amazing Colossal Man, director-producer-special-effects "whiz" Bert I. Gordon again proves that size does matter in his revamp of The Incredible Shrinking Man for American International... more » Pictures. John Hoyt, the wheelchair-bound tycoon from When Worlds Collide, is Mr. Franz, a lonely doll maker who reduces anyone who abandons him to doll-size. How Franz, a former puppeteer, could accomplish this scientific marvel is never explained, but Franz's collection (who, in an oddly unsettling scene, are forced to participate in a marionette show) include his salesman Bob (John Agar, by now an established B-movie staple) and secretary (June Kenny, from Gordon's Earth vs. the Spider) as well as a handful of strangers (including Ken Miller from I Was a Teenage Werewolf and the Queen of Outer Space herself, Laurie Mitchell). As always, Gordon's limitations overshadow his intentions, and his direction and atrocious effects (AIP monster maker Paul Blaisdell is credited with "special design"), as well as the script by SF hack George Worthing Yates (Them!), undo the film's few laudable aspects, chief among them Hoyt's sympathetic performance. However, his self-promotional skills are topnotch--Bob and Sally see Colossal Man on their drive-in date. Puppet People won't impress younger audiences, but parents raised on a diet of drive-in fodder will appreciate its pulpy plot and solid genre cast. Filmed as The Fantastic Puppet People, it was retitled after being paired on a double bill with War of the Colossal Beast. MGM's full-screen print looks excellent, with only mild speckling. --Paul Gaita« less
Puppet People changed the history of the United States
David Thomson | Houston, TX USA | 06/29/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Attack of the Puppet People is no more than a mediocre B-movie made primarily for the drive-in market of the late 1950s. The investors didn't even deem it worthy to be filmed in color. Director Bert I. Gordon and the American International studio instead focussed their lukewarm efforts and severely limited budget on some modest special effects. John Hoyt portrays the self centered doll maker Mr. Franz who turns the people he likes into miniature size. In other words, it's best to be on his bad side. Everybody else is essentially ignored and left alone. Mr. Franz is something of a benign dictator who claims to care for his victims, but refuses to allow them to choose their own destiny. John Agar, better known as the former real life husband of Shirley Temple is Bob, and June Kenny stars as Sally. The plot revolves around the attempt of these doll size folks to escape their current irritating predicament. Please note that I describe their reaction as merely irritating and not existentially horrifying. Alas, do I really need to add that none of the actors in Puppet People were nominated for any acting awards? The dialogue is wooden and embarrassing to watch. It is doubtful if the actors spent even five minutes rehearsing their lines. Far better acting is normally found in one's local high school theater group. The movie's theme song utters the ridiculous lyrics "You're my living doll." Admittedly, though, the song is so banal that you might find it hysterically funny. I still burst out laughing when thinking about it. This 79 minute long flick probably took no more than two weeks to complete. Attack of the Puppet People is definitely a strong competitor for the worst movie ever released.The reader up to this point might assume that I am discouraging them from viewing Attack of the Puppet People. Nothing could be further from the truth. This movie earns a five star recommendation, but not for its dubious artistic quality. It inadvertently is the reason why Richard M. Nixon eventually resigned from the presidency. The lookout for the Watergate burglars was suppose to use his walkie-talkie to warn those inside if the police were entering the building. However, this less than brilliant individual got distracted watching Attack of the Puppet People on television. Perhaps no other movie has ironically so impacted the history of the United States. That is reason enough to own a copy---and prominently place it in your own personal film collection."
"You funny, little people...I wonder why it is you always ha
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 07/07/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"You could generally count on two things when going into a film from producer/director/writer Bert I. Gordon, the first being shoddy visual effects (usually done by Bert himself), and the second being based on the title of the film, you had a good idea what you were going to get, some examples being...The Amazing Colossal Man (1957) had a fifty-foot man going nutzo...Village of the Giants (1965) had a handful of super-sized wacky teenage types giving the establishment what for...and then this film, titled Attack of the Puppet People (1958) featured a group of, you guessed it, pint-sized people struggling to get by in an oversized world. Produced, co-written, and directed by Gordon the film stars John Agar (The Mole People, The Brain from Planet Arous), June Kenney (Teenage Doll, Earth vs the Spider), and John Hoyt (Blackboard Jungle, X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes). Also appearing is Michael Mark (The Wasp Woman), Laurie Mitchell (Queen of Outer Space), Jack Kosslyn (The Magic Sword), Ken Miller (I Was a Teenage Werewolf), Scott Peters (The Madmen of Mandoras), and Marlene Willis (Rockabilly Baby).
As the film opens we see a Brownie troop visiting a modest doll manufacturing company called Dolls, Inc. (snazzy name there) owned and operated by seemingly kindly older man named Franz (Hoyt). As the girls pour over the dolls on display, we see some rather life-like ones in glass canisters in a locked display case on the wall, apparently part of Mr. Franz's special, personal collection...hmmm...enter Sally Reynolds (Kenny), an attractive young woman answering an ad Franz recently submitted to the newspapers who's in need of a new secretary (his last one up and left under mysterious circumstances...yeah right). Despite being a little weirded out by the old man's behavior (seems he's a little too into his dollies), Sally takes the job, much to the delight of a traveling salesman who works with Franz named Bob Westley (Agar) as he begins putting some serious moves on her (what an operator). As the pair make plans for the future, Bob up and disappears, and Franz informs Sally he went back home to take care of business and she should try to forget him. Sally, thinking something hinky at the doll factory, goes to the police with a crackpot theory, but when it doesn't pan out, she decides it's time to split...well, it seems Franz suffers from a severe case of separation anxiety, so much so that when anyone he feels close to tries to leave, he has an interesting method in getting them to stay, specifically a sophisticated shrinky dinky machine, one he uses to put the whammy on Sally. Turns out Franz has quite the collection of pocket-sized pals, the same ones he keeps on display in glass canisters in the front office. After mini Sally is reunited with puny Bob, Franz spills the beans about his process, along with his motives for doing what he does, to which afterwards he introduces Sally and Bob to some of his other diminutive `friends'. As the wee people plot their escape, Franz gets sloppy, and the police start sniffing around. Franz begins to freak, deciding to throw one last shindig with his itty-bitty buddies before closing up shop permanently...
Despite some obvious flaws, I enjoyed this strictly `B' 1950s sci-fi feature. The story may seem weak in a number of areas, but I'd argue it was more of a matter of simplicity. I have little doubt the film was probably made in a very short amount of time, and it seems to have no pretenses about its intent, that being mainly to entertain (and make as much dough as possible). I liked the fact Hoyt's character wasn't evil, but just lonely, desperately in need of companionship. That didn't excuse his actions, but in his mind his relationships with those he chose to de-embiggen worked both ways...he got to spend time with them whenever he wanted while they enjoyed the life of Riley, never having to worry about those mundane concerns most all of us deal with on a daily basis like work, paying bills, and so on...his character's science with regards to his miniaturization process seems somewhat ambiguous (it involved molecular breakdown and resonant frequencies), but I'm sure it probably came across a whole lot more plausible to audiences back in the day when originally released. I'll admit, I'm somewhat of a closet John Agar fan. The man may have not been one of the great actors of the time, but you could generally count on him being entertaining. He's got a few good scenes here, but I've always thought one of his best features to be The Brain from Planet Arous, where he served up the eggs with a big, fat, juicy slab of honey-baked ham. As far as the rest of the performers they did well enough for the film, and I had no complaints. As far as the special effects (Gordon's mainstay was the use of rear-projection enlargement technology), they were fairly clever (and cheap) at the time, but don't necessarily hold up well so many years later, so it's probably best not to get too hung up on that aspect, otherwise you might miss the fun. I did learn a number of things from this film, including the following;
1. When you're six inches tall you're pretty much at the bottom of the food chain. 2. John Agar really seems to hate marionettes. 3. If you're six inches tall you can keep a fifty pound angry canine at bay with a nail. 4. If you're six inches tall clothes taken from dolls whose dimension are nowhere near your own will fit perfectly without alterations. 5. Apparently you can make a living putting on marionette shows. 6. Never leave people you've miniaturized alone for any amount of time otherwise they're sure to plot against you. 7. If you've perfected a process to miniaturize people just so you can keep them around as friends, it's probably not the best idea to keep them on display where anyone can see them even if they are in a state of suspended animation. 8. Scientists don't often realize the vast, commercial, financial, and humanitarian possibilities of their inventions, no matter how obvious they may seem (I'd guess a machine that could shrink and enlarge both inanimate and animate objects could not only do a lot of good but make someone a whole lot of dough). 9. Seems to me the ability to put people into states of suspended animation by use of a pill you've invented might be worth something, but then what the hell do I know? 10. A rear-projection enlarged street rat chasing a pair of six inch people is more funny that frightening, at least by today's standards.
All in all not my favorite Bert I. Gordon feature (I'd have to go with either The Cyclops or The Amazing Colossal Man), but it's still a good deal of fun of the economy B movie kind.
The picture, presented in fullscreen (1.33:1), looks very clean on this DVD, and exhibits only a couple of minor flaws. As far as the Dolby Digital mono audio, available in English, Spanish, and French, it came through very well, with no complaints. The only extras included are an original theatrical trailer along with Spanish and French subtitles.
By the way, I'd appreciate a DVD release of Gordon's The Food of the Gods (1976)...as I write this it's still not available on the DVD format, and that just doesn't seem right. "
Puppet People pleases...
Michael P. Barnum | Oregon | 03/16/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I love this movie! I have loved this movie ever since I was a kid, and watched it whenever it would play on tv in the early 70s...so I was very pleased to see that a major video company (in this case MGM video) was finally releasing it for all to see once again! The story is about a lonely doll store owner, Mr. Franz (played by John Hoyt), who creates very realistic mini-versions of people he likes...the same people who have all also disappeared under mysterious circumstances! A very ambitious little film from AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL PICTURES with some absolutely flawless oversized props and some fairly good performances too! John Hoyt as the desperate doll maker is at his best in this one, and June Kenney (my all time favorite actress...really!) also does a fine job as his slightly suspicious and frightened secretary who eventually finds herself becoming one of the little people! Several other AIP regulars fill out the cast and make this one heck of a fun film! I highly recommend it! The picture quality is crystal clear and the video box artwork is fantastic too! Let's hope MGM Video decides to release some additonal titles from AIPs horror and sci-fi film vault!"
Bert I. Gordon Strikes Again!
Robert I. Hedges | 03/02/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Bert I. Gordon, the producer known for alternately making people and animals really big or small, was the brains behind this film, which is one of the best of the genre. It is a Black and White production from 1958 featuring John Hoyt as the mad doll maker, John Agar in his typical hero role, and a fairly bland performance by June Kenney as the love interest. The plot is fairly typical, Hoyt kidnaps people and shrinks them to doll size so he will never be lonely; after authorities get onto his trail he loses control of his life and the dolls. The movie is actually very well done, and the split screen shots are pretty decent, particularly of the cats and dogs. I was initially leaning toward a five star appraisal of the film, but the ending is somewhat abrupt and anticlimactic, so I give the film four stars for being an entertaining B-Movie genre period piece, and also for the performances of the two male leads. John Hoyt is genuinely creepy in his role of Mr. Franz the doll maker, and John Agar was born to play the hero in period pieces like this and the later "Zontar, The Thing From Venus", a film that definitely needs to be released on DVD soon. My favorite scene in the film is when Agar and Kenney go to the drive in to see "War of the Colossal Beast", another Bert I. Gordon 'human of improbable size' film with an astronaut who grows to enormous proportions. Don't miss it; it's a B-Movie classic!"
Very nice print of a B-movie classic, few dvd features
audrey | white mtns | 06/19/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This was a drive-in movie classic from the late 50s. John Hoyt plays the somewhat-benevolent mad scientist with pathos as he shrinks people he likes, stores them in a display case of dolls, and brings them out at night for entertainment.If you enjoy cheesy B-movies, or if you have fond memories of this or other old b&w 'scary' movies, you will enjoy this nice print of Bert Gordon's (The Amazing Colossal Man) classic, with little people dialing a (rotary!) phone, being chased by a dog, and acting out a scene in a puppet theatre.DVD extras are sparse: a trailer, and subtitles in French or Spanish -- hey, it's educational!!"