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S. Craig Zahler Almost Directed The ‘Puppet Master’ Reboot

As a fan of the original franchise’s early years, I have had my eye on Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich for awhile now. A reboot of the diminuitive terror-filled film series, The Littlest Reich has a bigger budget and a higher pedigree of talent behind it than recent installments*. Full Moon guru Charles Band is still on board producing the puppet madness, but this time he has Lorenzo di Bonventura and a few others alongside him. The wild plot this time around sees a man (Thomas Lennon) taking an old puppet he discovers in his dead brother’s home to a puppet convention(!), where a bloodbath naturally ensues. Furthermore, none other than S. Craig Zahler (Bone Tomahawk) has written the screenplay and almost directed the film!

That’s right! In a recent interview with BirthMoviesDeath, Littlest Reich star Barbara Crampton revealed that Zahler came very close to helming his own script…

“Craig was initially going to direct,” Crampton reveals, “but then he got busy prepping another movie, Dragged Across Concrete, and he wanted to put his attention on that. It stars Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn, so I guess I’ll defer to him if he needs to go work with them [laughs]. Craig suggested our directors, Sonny Laguna and Tommy Wiklund; they’re from Sweden, and they did Wither and a couple of other movies there. Their stuff is pretty brutal and raw, and there’s a lot of lightness in the Littlest Reich script, so they wanted someone who could marry the comedy and the gore and horror. Craig was like, ‘These guys would be perfect,’ and Dallas was like, ‘Who?’ [Laughs] Then he looked them up and saw some of their movies, and said, ‘Great, I’m down with that.’ This is a really nice opportunity for those guys, to do something a little bit more mainstream.”

I’ll trust Zahler’s judgment when it comes to the hiring of Wiklund and Laguna, especially since I’ve heard nothing but good things about their Evil Dead-esque Wither. That said, it would have been pretty wild if Zahler had done it himself. Still, one cannot complain when this film will still bear his mark. Besides, we have his already-completed Brawl in Cell Block 99 on the way this year and the aforementioned Dragged Across Concrete is currently filming. Bone Tomahawk fans are about to be knee-deep in Zahler-penned (and directed) films and I couldn’t be happier.

Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich is a reinvention of the classic Puppet Master horror franchise. It is directed by Sonny Laguna and Tommy Wiklund, from a screenplay by S. Craig Zahler. The picture is produced by Charles Band, Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Jack Heller, Dallas Sonnier, and Mark Vahradian. The film stars Thomas Lennon, Barbara Crampton, Michael Pare, Udo Kier, Charlyne Yi, Nelson Franklin, Matthias Hues, Alex Beh, Jenny Pellicer, and Mary Katherine O’Donnell.

* – Yes, the original franchise is still going. In fact, it recently wrapped production on its twelfth installment, Puppet Master: Axis Termination. It seems that the DTV sequels will continue, even if The Littlest Reich spawns its own separate franchise.

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