I looked for this movie for YEARS and got stuck with a worn ex-rental VHS of it for the longest, as the DVD that went out of print, was going for a small fortune on eBay and Amazon. One day, while buying the SE of Hitchcock's "Psycho," I stumbled upon this import DVD and immediately bought it. So onto the review.
Plot: 4 psychics, led by somewhat witless Yale professor Alex Whitacre (Paul LeMat) and an alcoholic fortuneteller Dana Hadley (Irene Miracle), are summoned to a hotel for a colleague's funeral. They all suspect something fishy is going on- but are each taken by surprise as living- and murderous- marionettes stalk their every move- and slaughter them one-by-one. Will anyone survive- or will they all become the victims of the Puppet Master?
Acting: Very good- for the most part. Golden Globe winner Irene Miracle (who is billed second despite being killed shortly before the end) steals the show with her zany antics and vicious one-liners, and LeMat takes over for the remaining twenty minutes of the movie.
Effects: Fantastic- except for a few complicated shots, and they're still decent then. These puppets actually appear to be alive, shocking as it may be, and all have a little personality to their movements, especially Blade, the adorable yet creepy knife-armed puppet, who has most screentime, but I can see why.
Overall: The script is pretty good, albeit somewhat slow-moving in the first third. This movie is definitely recommended to horror fans.
Now, once the boxset of the entire series was released, I bought IT, and its presentation of PuppetMaster 1 is better than this one, with better picture and soundmix, but it costs $100, and really if you don't want the whole series (THIS movie is the best of the series), this DVD is plenty good enough.