How far will writing and directing a Kurt Russell-starring cannibal-Western get you in Hollywood? Quite far, it turns out. EW recently reported that S. Craig Zahler, who directed last year’s Russell-featuring horror movie Bone Tomahawk, was teaming with Vince Vaughn for his second film, the prison-set thriller Brawl in Cell Block 99. Now, comes the news that di Bonaventura Pictures (the Transformers films) and Caliber Media (Some Kind of Hate, Bone Tomahawk) are developing what is being described as “a brand new take” on producer Charles Band’s Puppet Master series of horror films and that Zahler will write the script for the first movie, Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich. The franchise, which concerns a group of anthropomorphic puppets animated by an Egyptian spell, dates back to 1989 and director David Schmoeller’s Puppet Master. Subsequent entries in the series include 1991’s Puppet Master II, 1994’s Puppet Master 5: The Final Chapter, and 2012’s Puppet Master X: Axis Rising.
The storyline for Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich follows a recently divorced young man who discovers a mint condition 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.
The film will be produced by Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Mark Vahradian for di Bonaventura Pictures alongside Dallas Sonnier and Jack Heller for Caliber Media. Charles Band will executive produce.
“As a child of the 80’s and 90’s, I spent a vast majority of my allowance on Charles Band-produced films,” said Sonnier in a statement. “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.”