Horror Cult Classic 'Puppet Master' to Get Reboot From 'Transformers' Producer

Puppet Master Still 1989 - H 2016
S. Craig Zahler ('Bone Tomahawk') has been tapped to write the first script titled 'Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich,' which will be part of multiple storylines and an expanded mythology.

Di Bonaventura Pictures and Caliber Media are partnering up to bring a new version of Charles Band’s cult classic horror franchise Puppet Master to the big screen.

S. Craig Zahler (Bone Tomahawk) has been tapped to write the first script titled Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich, which will be part of multiple storylines and an expanded mythology. A director search is underway.

The film will be produced by Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Mark Vahradian for di Bonaventura Pictures alongside Dallas Sonnier and Jack Heller for Caliber. Band will executive produce. Sonnier and Band announced the project together onstage Saturday at the Texas Frightmare Weekend presented by Fangoria.

"We couldn’t be more excited to take the series in a new direction while embracing all the practical effects and terrifying insanity that fans of the Puppet Master films love,” said Heller.

The original Puppet Master revolved around a group of anthropomorphic puppets animated by an Egyptian spell, each equipped with its own unique and dangerous device. They are represented as heroes, antiheroes and antagonists. Produced by Band and his Full Moon Features label, the series was established in 1989 with the eponymous first installment, which has since been followed by numerous sequels, comic books, collector's items and toys.

Zahler’s new take promises all of the brutally inventive puppet kills infused with the same comedy that made the original franchise so popular with fans.

The film follows a recently divorced young man who discovers a mint condition Blade doll in his deceased brother’s closet and plans to sell the toy at a convention in Oregon celebrating the 30th anniversary of the infamous Toulon Murders. All hell breaks loose at the Postville Lodge during the auction when a strange force animates all of the various puppets throughout the convention as they go on a bloody killing spree.

“As a child of the '80s and '90s, I spent a vast majority of my allowance on Charles Band-produced films,” said Sonnier. “Puppet Master was hands-down my favorite, and I had the movie poster on my wall and a giant standee in my bedroom. The chance to work with Lorenzo, Zahler and Band all at once on this new take is simply a dream come true.”

Sonnier and Heller met Band several years ago when Sonnier’s wife was doing publicity work for Full Moon Features. They decided to team up on a larger-budget version of Puppet Master, and Caliber took the idea to Zahler, who also was a huge fan of the original films. Sonnier knew that di Bonaventura Pictures was looking to work with Zahler and had experience with universe building on Transformers.

Di Bonaventura Pictures financed the script through a recently created development fund in partnership with Film Italia.

Di Bonaventura Pictures is best known for producing the Transformers and G.I. Joe films as well as genre breakouts 1408 and The Devil Inside. The company's next film is Deepwater Horizon, a true story surrounding the offshore drilling rig that exploded, creating the worst oil spill in U.S. history. It is set to be released in September.

Caliber Media and Zahler worked together on Bone Tomahawk, starring Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson, Matthew Fox and Richard Jenkins. The film was nominated for two Independent Spirit Awards. Zahler’s next film, Brawl in Cell Block 99, is in the works with Vince Vaughn attached to star and with Sonnier and Heller producing.

Zahler is repped by UTA, Caliber and Ziffren Brittenham.