Anyone who knows me knows two important truths about my existence: I am easily annoyed by tags in the back of my shirts and I love puppets. If it were up to me, there would be an entire puppet TV channel. Not just a few shows, ideally I'd be talking a whole network. Like most kids, I grew up with the brilliant work of Jim Henson (more than competently continued by his talented son Brian) as well as Sesame Street and the like. Then, in middle school my life changed forever when I saw Peter Jackson's 1989 masterpiece Meet the Feebles and discovered a whole new world. Ever since, I've been on a quest to find puppet movies that dip their toes into the waters of violence and depravity. My journey has brought some results to the surface. Some good, some amazing, but in the end I'm always thirsty for more.
Knowing my interests, a friend of mine told me about Elmwood Productions and the work they've been doing with my kind of puppet movies. I had the fortune of meeting them at CT HorrorFest and nabbed a copy of their newest release Head. In the end, I'm glad I did.
Head opens with a wonderful introduction from a puppet telling you of the horror you are about to witness. It's done in a classic B&W style and is accompanied by a short before getting into the meat of the main story. This little bit of added flavor colors the film wonderfully and cranks the fun factor up right from the start.
The primary film itself opens with a massacre that lets the viewer know that Head isn't messing around. It perfectly captures the classic slasher opening style while having fun with the puppet cast. We then meet our main characters. They consist of a group of friends, including a brother and sister, camping in the woods. Along the way they meet up with a stranger who is taking up shop in the forest for his own reasons. He tells them of the horrific history behind the area including the series of decapitations that have led to the area's infamy. As with any legend, some believe him while others aren't so sure of the story… or the man himself.
Before long, the campers find themselves being attacked by someone, something, perhaps a group. But one thing is certain, there is a fixation with their heads at play. As the blood flows, the group struggles to survive and find out the secrets behind the horror they have walked into.
All of the puppets are great and given their own unique looks and personalities. The impressive voice acting behind the various characters adds a sense of realism to the back and forth as does the dialogue. As any quality puppet film, Head utilizes the puppets well but doesn't rely on them solely to make the story interesting. It would be cheap and easy to write a boring, run of the mill slasher and just fill it in with puppets, but Head goes the extra mile and has some really great stuff going on. While the puppets are clearly puppets, the gore often looks real, adding an extra layer of character to the overall film.
In the end, I found myself completely satisfied with Head. It was a film that utilized the puppets well and told a fun, classic slasher-style story with plenty of unique bits thrown in. I had no issue seeing the puppets as full-fledged characters and the project moved along at a crisp pace. Whether you're a puppet fanatic like me or just a fan of campy slashers, I would highly recommend grabbing a copy of Head.
P.J. Griffin, HMS
The Horror Show Menu.