"You are the worst I have ever seen, but
you are the Pumaman."
Flying over Stonehenge, a UFO drops off a magical
golden mask. A voice-over alien promises that the mask will be protected
son, and his sons after him. They will be man-gods; blessed with the
infinite powers of the puma (a Puma-man, if you will).
Naturally, any device of great power must
eventually fall into the wrong hands. Quicker than you can say Warrior
Queen, the mask falls into the evil hands of Kobras (Donald
Pleasance!). He discovers that the mask can control the human mind (not
unlike Pabst Blue Ribbon), which can be very helpful when wanting to
take over the world.
Unfortunately, plans for world domination are cut
short when alien hieroglyphics reveal that the mask is protected. Any ne’er-do-well who attempts to use it for evil will fall
to a grisly demise by Pumaman.
So logically, Kobras must eliminate the mask’s
guardian. But how does one go about finding a Pumaman?
Easy. By throwing random men out skyscraper
windows. If they splat, they’re obviously not
So Kobras and his goons spend lazy summer
afternoons tossing random men out skyscraper windows. On the other side
of town, Vadinho, native shaman and friend to all Pumamen, does his part
in finding the man-god. Not wanting to break from the tried-and-true
method, he too tosses random men out skyscraper windows.
Vadinho soon comes across Tony Farms, a
paleontologist working at a local museum. After Tony survives his window
toss, Vadinho runs up to him, tells him he’s a Pumaman, and
disappears. He’s just mysterious like that.
(This later segues into the obligatory: “I’m
not a Pumaman” and “You are a Pumaman!” conflict, but
let’s skip it.)
Unfortunately, Vadinho isn’t the only one who
discovers Farms’ hidden gift. Kobras sets his sights on the heroic
paleontologist, for once the Pumaman is out of the way, nothing can stop
him from taking over - the world!!! (Pronounced
“verld” with an echo effect to increase menace.)
This review is part of Secret
Santa, the latest B-Masters’ roundtable. Lyz, of And
You Call Yourself A Scientist! fame, drew my name. I must admit that
she went fairly easy on me. Out of mercy? Charity? Who knows? Pumaman
isn’t a good film, but it’s not that painful, either.
The acting is sub-par, but that’s to be expected.
Besides, Donald Pleasance is always a treat. He hams like none other:
The beady eyes. The emotionless line delivery. The shiny pate. As a
director, you can’t go wrong with big Don.
But you can go wrong with Walter George Alton.
It’s nothing personal. Considering the material, he does just fine.
But why get Gary Busey when you can just as easily hire Nick Nolte? Meaning,
Alton wants to be Dirk Benedict so bad he can just taste it. Fresh off Battlestar
Galactica, Dirk could’ve brought some star-power punch to the
production. Or was Donald Pleasance supposed to provide the ratings’
There was lots of action; fighting and what-not.
I’m not talking about fancy-schmancy wire work or characters freezing
in mid-air while a bullet flies between their legs. Apparently, Pumaman
likes to mix the power of B. A. Baracus with the unorthodox dork-fu of
William Shatner. We get some
thug tossing (across cars, into walls, but sadly, not into dumpsters)
along with a dabble of “In real life, that would’ve never
connected.” Things like Pumaman falling between the legs of an
attacker, then kicking him in the chest. With the lightning speed of,
say, Jackie Chan, I might be able to accept this feat. With the
clumsiness of Walter George Alton, however, it proves a bit harder to
swallow. And if you’re going to pay homage to Shatner, everyone knows
you have to throw in a weak chop to the back of the neck. It’s a
Perhaps a chop to the back of the neck would’ve
prevented Our Hero from being made a fool of by Donald Pleasance.
Pumaman beats on a dozen bad guys without breaking a sweat, only to be
out-muscled by Donald Pleasance in the film’s finale? Suspending
disbelief, I can accept Pleasance as a criminal mastermind. But he’s
just a little too doughy to be slapping around a man-god. Unless that
man-god happened to be Corey
- Vadinho is a proud member of The Temple of the
God Who Came From Other Worlds. If any organization was in desperate
need of an acronym, this would be it.
- Hypnosis through shaky cam! Why spend lots of
money on special effects? We’ll just screw with camera lens! Nobody
will know the difference!
- Pumaman spends a great deal of time flying and
looking. Flying. Then looking. Then back to flying. Nothing is more
exciting than bad blue-screen flight interrupted by periodic pauses to
look around. It truly completes the effect.
- I can understand having a protector for a mask
that could enslave the world, but it begs the question: Why bother
dropping the mask off in the first place?
- The stirring love theme from Pumaman.
- Pumaman, as the name implies, is blessed with all
the wondrous powers of a puma, which include:
power of flight.
power to tear steel and crumble bricks with your bare hands.
power to teleport (I have a great story about this puma that
teleported into my grandmother’s bathroom in Wyoming, but for the
sake of brevity, I’ll refrain).
power to see in the dark.
power to punch guys really hard (my grandma was punched by said
puma, but again, we should probably skip it).