The Puppet Masters

Year: 1994

Production: Disney

Director: Stuart Orme

Starring: Donald Sutherland, Eric Thal, Julie Warner, Keith David, Will Patton, Yaphet Kotto, Andrew Robinson

Screenwriter: Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, David S. Goyer

109 minutes; Color


This is a belated authorized adaptation of Robert A. Heinlein's 1951 novel of the same title. The novel was the progenitor of the "Body Snatchers" sub-genre and inspired a low-budget rip-off The Brain Eaters (1958).

Slug-like aliens land in Iowa and embed themselves in the brains of locals, establishing a mind-controlled beachhead. A government agency tries to resist the invasion, with intelligence chief Sutherland forced to rely on his estranged son (Thal) in the crisis and NASA extraterrestrial expert Warner providing scientific advice. An almost superior shocker the film loses its way during the second half as the darkly serious atmosphere gets replaced by an awkward romance between Thal and Warner. At the same time stupid plot contrivances are glossed over for the sake of maintaining a driving narrative momentum towards the high-flying climax and the weak twist ending. There are subtleties - a CGI flying saucer seen only as a reflection in a hub-cap - but some major set-pieces are fudges, with the alien hive depicted as a tacky mass of net curtains, plastic tendrils and styrofoam sheeting.

The Overlook Film Encyclopedia - Science Fiction

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