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Interview with Charles Band, Creator of the Puppet Master series talks Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich

Charles Band discusses the franchise’s roots, the new direction, and the future of the series

In celebration of the release of the hotly anticipated Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich being released on Friday, I had the opportunity to sit down with the franchise’s famed creator, Mr Charles Band. Band runs the Full Moon Empire which released all of the original 11 films in the Puppet Master franchise. He even directed the last batch of those films. Band has handed off the reigns of the franchise over to Fangoria, Dallas Sonnier, and Bone Tomahawk director S Craig Zahler for this new film. Let’s talk a look at what Band had to say about this new film.

Was it hard putting this beloved franchise in a new company’s hands?

Not really, in this case. Producer Dallas Sonnier and I are good friends and the deal we made worked out for both of us in that – and I think this is unprecedented – he gets to create his own PUPPET MASTER universe using the blueprint of what we created, but we still control our own PUPPET MASTER universe. Both are radically different on many levels. For one, our puppets FIGHT Nazi’s…in this new “Bizarro World” Puppet Master, the puppets ARE Nazis!

How involved were you in the production of Littlest Reich? Were you on set at all? Or did you get to take a look at the script before production?

I was there in the early stages but honestly was pretty involved with the always rocking world of Full Moon, including releasing our own 11th PUPPET MASTER movie AXIS TERMINATED as well as EVIL BONG 777, our merchandising, licensing deals, running our streaming and Amazon channels. Whew. No, I trusted Dallas to do his own thing and actually just wanted to be surprised by what he was cooking up.

This film has buckets of gore, really upping the blood quotient since the last film. Are you into that cinematically or are you a less is more kind of guy?

I love gore when it’s used well, for sure. I produced RE-ANIMATOR for crying out loud! (laughs) I’m not necessarily a gorehound though. But I am into giving the crowd what they want and this new PUPPET MASTER delivers the goods with a pretty single minded dedication to gross people out. And that’s great!

Barbara Crampton plays a fairly large role in this film. Did you get a kick out of seeing her back in the franchise?

Right, so back to RE-ANIMATOR, I’ve known Barbara for years and she’s been in lots of my biggest movies. She’s fantastic. And I think it’s great that they cast her. She’s having a serious career renaissance lately and I couldn’t be happier for her.

I saw your brother, Richard Band, is credited with a piece of score in the movie. Can you talk about his involvement here?

The score here is by Italian composer Fabio Frizzi, who is best known for scoring the movies of Lucio Fulci – including ZOMBIE which I distributed in the 80’s via my Wizard Video label. Richard didn’t make any new music for this version, but the classic PUPPET MASTER theme is his and was adapted for this movie.

Littlest Reich is being released under Fangoria’s new distribution label. I remember finding out about Curse of the Puppet Master from a splashy full page ad in the magazine when that film was coming out. Full Moon has a long history with the magazine from spotlight articles to your current work with former editor Chris Alexander. Can you talk about your history with Fangoria and your thoughts on this being the first movie being released under this new arm?

What’s amusing is that we scooped Chris up from FANGORIA and he eventually left that magazine to focus on Full Moon and DELIRIUM magazine, which is the magazine we created, I publish and Chris edits. He brought over veteran FANGORIA staffers like Michael Gingold and designer Bill Mohalley. Then when FANGORIA collapsed, years later, Dallas’ company Cinestate bought it. So the “old” FANGORIA – now DELIRIUM – is part of the Full Moon universe and now the “new” FANGORIA is part of the world responsible for remaking these new Full Moon-inspired movies. So we are both heavily connected in weird and cool ways!

In this film, the puppets aren’t fighting the nazis like in your films. This time, they are the nazis. What do you think it is about these little guys that connects them to the nazis?

Well, Nazi’s are bad (laughs). And you’re right, in our mythology, Toulon and the puppets HATE Nazis and are out to stop them. But since this new film is operating in a different universe it makes perfect sense to have them BE Nazis. It’s an inversion of the classic PUPPET MASTER mythology and I’m fine with it.

Where do you put Littlest Reich in the timeline with the other films? Or is this it’s own separate entity?

Oh yeah, it’s ground zero for a completely different universe. It is entirely its own thing screenwriter S. Craig Zahler created using the DNA of our series.

Where can folks see some of the other films in the Puppet Master franchise?

Everywhere! PUPPET MASTER remains the most popular direct-to-video film franchise in history and our films and merchandise are everywhere. But you can get EVERYTHING we do and have done by visiting our store www.FullMoonDirect.com and stream the movies on our FullMoonStreaming.com and Amazon channels.

Are you still merchandising toys and dolls of the Puppets based on the films?

Absolutely! In fact we just released a really cool line of vinyl dolls, including a VERY cool “Blood Splattered Blade” figure that fans are freaking out about. We also recently launched a new line of 1:1 scale replicas of the PUPPET MASTER characters, created by FX wizard Tom Devlin. Again, all this awesome merch can be found at our store, www.FullMoonDirect.com.

What films are you working on now for Full Moon?

Our biggest deal right now is the completion of my old friend and partner David Allen’s THE PRIMEVALS, a movie that Dave and I had been planning for decades and that we finally mounted in the early 1990s. It was a HUGE deal for us and for fans of Dave’s brilliant stop-motion animation. It was the ultimate Full Moon movie and we had a wide window to finish the intricate effects. And then Dave got sick and passed away in the middle of post-production and the movie was shelved. But we’re finally – with the vision of Dave’s partner, FX wizard Chris Endicott – finishing THE PRIMEAVLAS and it’s incredibly exciting for all of us. We’re also preparing a new project loosely called THE DEADLY 10 – 10 new horror movies made by Full Moon legends that fans can be part of, almost like a step-by-step film school that fans can be watch being made, from pre-production to release. We’re still working all that out but it’s incredibly innovative and exciting. And that’s only scratching the surface of what’s in store!

Check out the red band trailer here:

Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich is in Theaters and Available on VOD & Digital HD this Friday, August 17, 2018

Written by Matt Storc

(Chicago Events Coordinator) Matt Storc is a screenwriter and director from the great city of Chicago. He enjoys sharing movies with people almost as much as he enjoys making them. He also does a killer rendition of the other guy's part in Shaggy's "It Wasn't Me" at karaoke."