Referential Reality in “The Puppet Masters”

In the book Hollywood Science, I noticed how the movie “The Puppet Masters” was mentioned.  I decided to do a little researching to see if the plot of the movie is perhaps related to something that was occurring societally in the-mid 90’s.  What could influence someone to produce such a movie with such a ridiculous plot involving an invasion by infectious alien slugs that attach to people and control their minds?

In 1990, three years prior to the creation of this film, the Hubble Space Telescope was launched during the mission of Space Shuttle Discovery.  Perhaps such a milestone in space exploration caused people to direct their attention toward what could possibly be found as a result of this improvement in technology, setting the stage for a movie such as “The Puppet Masters.”  Still, I think that this movie is ridiculously far-fetched, and cannot imagine how anyone could take an alien slug invasion seriously.  However, maybe combined with the space exploration occurring at the time, people had a heightened responsivity to any idea suggesting extraterrestrial life.

To me, this movie is not at all referentially real, which is why it is not that believable and received horrible reviews.  Perhaps, combined with somewhat convincing scientific “evidence,” the possibility of alien slugs overtaking human hosts makes the situation more conceivable.

Unlike “The Puppet Masters,” the movie “Children of Men” suggests a stronger sense of referential reality to me.  This might be because the disaster in “Children of Men” stems current events that we all are aware of to some extent: immigration, pollution, violence, politics, and reproductive abilities, rather than the far-fetched external force focused on in “The Puppet Masters” (i.e. aliens).

Aside from the far-fetched situation, this movie also has some errors.  Towards the end of the movie, Des Moines is supposedly pictured.  However, there are palm trees in the scene.  Additionally, in a scene where a monkey is infected by one of the slugs and is typing on a computer, he presses keys that completely do not match what he is typing.  As we discussed in class, I think it is funny how often laboratory and scientific scenes are misrepresented.

Interestingly, each movie relates to what was happening socially or politically at the time.  While “The Puppet Masters” reflects the breakthroughs in space exploration, “Children of Men” mirrors the bombings, killing, and violence that we see on the news every day.  This film not only relates to the events occurring today, but comments on such widespread violence.  In the scene where a bomb explodes in a coffee shop, people are initially scared, but then quickly resume going about their day.  Even the buses and trains kept running.  This makes a strong statement that such recurrent violence is causing us as humans to become desensitized emotionally and mentally.

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