Puppetmaster Joseph Renfield (Donald O’Connor) is watching some of his old B&W TV marionette shows presumably on VHS tapes. Feeling old and nostalgic, he looks out his back window where he see a more interesting set of strings — those holding together the bikini of his much younger wife. The puppet market must have been very lucrative; you know, back around the time his wife was born.
In the mail that day, Renfield gets a letter offering him a spot on a TV show to revive his old act with Coco the Clown; because there’s nothing modern TV audiences, even in 1982, like better than puppets and clowns.
His wife Ellen seems genuinely to care for Renfield despite their 34 year difference. She recruits one of her friends from acting class who just happens to be a good looking young man to help him prepare for the show. While Coco the Clown looks on menacingly.
All seems to be going well. The new kid David is working out well. Ellen is furious when David updates some of Renfield’s material and storms out. David then casually mentions that acting classes are on Tuesday, not Wednesday as Ellen has been telling Renfield when she goes out each week. While Coco the Clown looks on menacingly.
As David is leaving, Ellen tells him maybe he shouldn’t come back. It isn’t really clear why she want to get rid of David. He accuses her of cheating on Renfield. She says they’ve been married for 8 years — so they were 25 and 59 when they got married. If she’s in it for the money, she certainly is making a good show of it. He goes through Ellen’s underwear, probably the first time in a while, and finds a stack of love letters.
In a drunken conversation with Coco, the clown convinces him to take matters into his own hands. When he awakens in the morning, Coco’s strings are hanging loose and Renfield hears Ellen screaming upstairs. He rushes up to see Coco repeatedly stabbing Ellen in then chest.
As Renfield takes his last gasps — actually he already looks stone cold dead — David and Ellen explain their evil plot.
Unfortunately for them, the original Coco is a little more animated than they thought and avenges Renfield’s death.
Nothing special, but solid.
- Title Analysis: They’re finally starting to understand how it works.
- Why name the guy Renfield? There is only one famous Renfield in all literature, and he has nothing in common with this character.