An alien spaceship lands near the small town of Ambrose, Iowa.  The aliens are slug-like creatures that attach themselves to human hosts at the base of their necks and send runners into the person’s brain.  The slugs take over the person’s will and absorb any information the human possesses.  The locals that have been taken over build a fake spaceship and tell everyone that the reports of aliens landing were a hoax perpetrated by some youths.  That way they can secretly begin taking over the planet without anyone interfering.

Andrew Nivens (Donald Sutherland) runs a secret CIA branch that investigates alien activity.  Working with him is his son Sam (Eric Thal).  Several investigators sent to the area never returned.  Andrew decides he must go himself to investigate.  Along with Sam he takes, NASA xenobiologist, Mary Sefton (Julie Warner) and his driver, Jarvis (Richard Belzer).  After viewing the crash site, they talk to the manager of the local television station.  They find out that the station manager is one of the people taken over by the aliens.  A fight with the manager results in his death.  The slug tries to escape but is captured by the team.  They take it back to headquarters for examination.

One of the slugs infiltrates headquarters and eventually ends up attached to Sam.  Sam’s slug launches a plan to take over the president of the United States.  The attempt fails and Sam is caught.  The CIA manages to find a way to extract the slug from Sam, but they haven’t found a way to massively kill the slugs that have established a hive and are invading the state of Iowa.  The military is sent in, but the slugs overcome them and take over their brains.     

When Mary gets taken over, Sam decides he must go into the hive to get her back.

“The Puppet Masters” was released in 1994 and was directed by Stuart Orme.  It is an American science fiction horror film loosely based on the 1951 novel by Robert A. Heinlein.

Not having read the story I have no bias on how the movie fares against the book.  I would imagine that if you are a Heinlein purist you will have much to criticize, however, I don’t have that drawback.  I liked the movie.  I am quite sure that Heinlein snobs would disagree.  Not to disparage Heinlein fans but if you are really into Heinlein then you probably shouldn’t watch any movies that are supposedly based on any of his stories.  They will never be the same.  The same could be said, I suppose, for most of the great science fiction writers.

Having watched my fair share of garbage it was nice to see a film that had decent acting, special effects, dialogue, music and cinematography.  It’s not a classic but it is indicative of your standard and rather well-done science fiction movie.  There was plenty of suspense and action and I was interested in the story all the way through.  Perhaps it’s not top shelf “Grand Master” work but it was a fun science fiction movie to watch. 

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