Thursday, February 23, 2017

Attack Of The Puppet People

Bert I. Gordon’s specialty, if it can be called that, was making movies about animate objects that were either very large or very small. Hence, titles in Gordon’s filmography like VILLAGE OF THE GIANTS, THE AMAZING COLOSSAL MAN, KING DINOSAUR, BEGINNING OF THE END (giant grasshoppers), EMPIRE OF THE ANTS (giant ants), FOOD OF THE GODS (giant chicken). And ATTACK OF THE PUPPET PEOPLE, which is not about puppets, but people shrunken to about six inches in height.

A kindly old dollmaker played by John Hoyt (WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE) owns a three-room doll factory on the fifth floor of an office building. He’s the only employee of Dolls, Inc., except for new secretary June Kenney (EARTH VS. THE SPIDER), who is replacing the old secretary, who just disappeared. So did Hoyt’s mailman and several other people in Hoyt’s outer circle, not that the authorities ever noticed. Well, the title gives it away — Hoyt has learned how to shrink people and soon adds Kenney and doll salesman John Agar (TARANTULA) to his repertory company.

Of course, it’s typically silly “Mr. B.I.G.” shenanigans, though Hoyt works hard to create a sympathetic villain. Hilariously, based on absolutely no evidence whatsoever, Kenney deduces her boss turned Agar into a doll just because the doll looks like him. The fact that she’s right makes this plot point no less ridiculous. Gordon takes credit as director, producer, story writer (IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA’s George Worthing Yates wrote the screenplay), and technical effects supervisor.

Befitting a film at this budget level, the quality of the effects varies. Sometimes the simplest are the best — some shots of miniaturized people in glass tubes are actually 2D photographs, rather than actors and photographic effects. Agar and Kenney make out during THE AMAZING COLOSSAL MAN at a drive-in, and AIP released ATTACK OF THE PUPPET PEOPLE on a double bill with Gordon’s sequel, WAR OF THE COLOSSAL BEAST.

1 comment:

Mike Doran said...

Puppet People also marks the screen debut of B.I.G.'s daughter Susan Gordon, as a Brownie who visits the doll factory.
Susan Gordon went on to considerable success as a child/teen actress - and largely on her own merits, at that.
She left acting for a teaching career, and went on to marry happily and raise six children.
Years later, she became quite popular at shows and conventions, had she not passed on at an early age, she might well have made an acting comeback ...
"... it might have been ..."