Attack of the Puppet People
Attack of the Puppet People (working titles The Fantastic Puppet People and I Was a Teenage Doll, and re-titled Six Inches Tall in the UK) is a 1958 American black-and-white science fiction horror film starring John Agar, John Hoyt, and June Kenney. The film was produced, written, and directed by Bert I. Gordon for his Alta Vista Productions. He also worked on the film's special effects. American International Pictures released it as a double feature with War of the Colossal Beast.
|Attack of the Puppet People|
Theatrical release poster
by Reynold Brown
|Directed by||Bert I. Gordon|
|Produced by||Bert I. Gordon|
|Written by||Bert I. Gordon |
George Worthing Yates
|Music by||Don A. Ferris |
|Edited by||Ronald Sinclair|
|Distributed by||American International Pictures|
Attack of the Puppet People was rushed into production by AIP and Bert I. Gordon to capitalize on the popular success of Universal-International's The Incredible Shrinking Man, released the previous year in 1957.
A Brownie troop visits the doll manufacturing company, Dolls Inc., owned and operated by the seemingly kindly Mr. Franz (John Hoyt). As the girls tour the factory, they see a number of very lifelike dolls stored in glass canisters locked in a display case on a wall. These are part of Mr. Franz’s "special collection".
Sally Reynolds (June Kenney) answers a newspaper advertisement for a secretary position (Franz's previous secretary has mysteriously vanished). Although concerned about his obsession with the special doll collection, she reluctantly agrees to take the job.
A traveling salesman, Bob Westley (John Agar), comes to the office, and he and Sally soon develop a relationship. After working at the doll factory for several weeks, Sally receives a marriage proposal from Bob. He persuades her to quit her job, while promising to break the news to Franz.
The next day, however, Franz informs Sally that Bob has returned home to take care of extended business, and so advises her to forget him. She notices a new doll in his collection that looks just like Bob. Frightened, she goes to the police, claiming that Franz has somehow shrunken Bob and added him to his doll collection. Hearing this, Sergeant Paterson (Jack Kosslyn) is highly skeptical, but to placate her, he investigates. Franz is able to convince him that the dolls are just what they appear to be: dolls.
When Franz finds out that Sally plans to quit, he locks her in his lab. He has developed a machine that can shrink people down to one-sixth of their original size. He uses the shrinking machine on anyone who tries to leave him. All the "dolls" in his glass case are former "friends" put in suspended animation, which he has also invented. Sally becomes his latest victim.
After a reunion between Sally and Bob, Franz reveals how his reduction process works and why he miniaturizes people: He developed a strong phobia against being alone after his wife left him. Periodically, Franz awakens his miniaturized captives so that they can enjoy the "parties" he throws for them.
During a welcoming party for the two newcomers, Franz has to deal with full-size friend and customer Emil (Michael Mark). The small prisoners try but fail to call for help. Sergeant Paterson, however, begins investigating Franz because many people he knows have gone missing. After Franz is questioned again by Paterson, he panics, announcing to his tiny prisoners that he plans to kill them and himself before he is caught. He takes his "collection" to an old theater, supposedly to test his repairs made on Emil's marionette. There, he throws one final party, forcing his captives to act-out Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Bob and Sally manage to escape and make it back to Franz's workshop. Franz tracks them down, but not before they are able to return themselves to normal size. They leave and go directly to the police, despite his pathetic pleas of "Don't leave me. I'll be alone". The fates of the other miniaturized prisoners remain unknown.
- June Kenney as Sally Reynolds
- John Agar as Bob Westley
- John Hoyt as Mr. Franz
- Michael Mark as Emil
- Jack Kosslyn as Sergeant Paterson
- Marlene Willis as Laurie/Theme song vocalist
- Ken Miller as Stan
- Laurie Mitchell as Georgia Lane
- Scott Peters as Mac
- Susan Gordon as Agnes
- June Jocelyn as Brownie Leader
Science fiction film historian Tom Weaver and Dr. Robert J. Kiss talk about the making and distribution of the film on the audio commentary of the 2017 Shout! Factory Blu-ray.
Another of Gordon's films is referenced when a scene from The Amazing Colossal Man is shown at a drive-in.
Donald Barthelme's 1961 short story "The Hiding Fan" features two characters viewing the film.
The film received mediocre reviews at the time of its release. It has since gained somewhat of a cult status among fans of the B movie genre. Its plotline was reused for the French film Le Manteau de Glace.
The Watergate burglary lookout, Alfred C. Baldwin III, was watching Attack of the Puppet People on TV at the time of the break-in. Distracted by the film, he failed to notice a police car pulling up at the scene in time for his accomplices to make their escape.
Attack of the Puppet People was released on DVD by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer as part of their "Midnite Movies" collection. Shout Factory released the film November 14, 2017 on Region A Blu-ray. The transfer was made using a 2K scan of the film's interpositive, in its original widescreen 1:85:1 aspect ratio. Film historian Tom Weaver provides an audio commentary track. The film's theatrical release trailer is also included.
- Warren, Bill (1986). "Keep Watching The Skies, Volume 2". McFarland & Co., Inc. ISBN 0-89950-170-2. Page 732
- "Attack of the Puppet People". Time Out London,
- Bill Warren; Bill Thomas (16 November 2009). Keep Watching the Skies!: American Science Fiction Movies of the Fifties, The 21st Century Edition. McFarland. pp. 80–. ISBN 978-0-7864-4230-0.
- Tim Gross. Gross Movie Reviews: The Wrath of Gross. Lulu.com. pp. 47–. ISBN 978-1-312-79288-3.
- Gary A. Smith, The American International Pictures Video Guide, McFarland 2009 p 18
- Donald C. Willis (1985). Variety's Complete Science Fiction Reviews. Garland. p. 132. ISBN 978-0-8240-6263-7.
- Atlas. Worley Pub. 1971. p. 63.
- Shirley, Craig (20 June 2012). "The Bartender's Tale: How the Watergate Burglars Got Caught". Washingtonian. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
- David Wingrove, Science Fiction Film Source Book (Longman Group Limited, 1985)