Puppet Cast: Blade, Jester, Pinhead, Tunneler, Leech Woman, Six Shooter, Matt, Tank
Directed by David DeCoteau (as Victoria Sloan)
Expectations: Pretty low after the last one.
On the general scale:
On the B-Movie scale:
After the abysmal Puppet Master 5, Charles Band wisely gave the series a few years off before coming out with film number six, Curse of the Puppet Master. It’s a definite improvement in the trajectory of the franchise, returning to the basic suspense / horror framework from the initial three films. Curse of the Puppet Master is not without its share of problems though, but thankfully they don’t detract from the fun too much as long as you’re willing to just roll with them.
It all starts on a dark and stormy night (really, it does) as a shadowy figure that looks like André Toulon shuffles past our puppet friends who are imprisoned in a large cage. He carries a medicine bag into the forest and then sets it on fire. It’s clear that something just isn’t right about all of this, but you’ll just have to stew in it a while longer before all the chips are in hand. If I give away too much of the story, the whole she-bang will unravel because this plot has been around the block more times than a French whore. As I’ve said before though, if they are able to fill in the gaps with good FX and quality filmmaking, I’m game every day of the week. Director David DeCoteau keeps the film fresh with some clever shots and atmospheric lighting, resulting in a film that provides enough fun to satisfy long-time fans, as well as introduce newcomers to the puppets and their unique brand of mayhem.
Speaking of action, the kills are pretty great and bloody in Curse of the Puppet Master. The first one doesn’t happen until over halfway through the film, but fuck if it isn’t one of the most satisfying kills of the series. The resident asshole of the film works out by himself in his living room. The whole movie they’ve built up how much of a dick this guy is. He’s taunted our human hero, threatened Dr. Magrew’s daughter and almost came to blows with the elderly Dr. Magrew himself. This guy is a Grade-A douche-bag, so when the puppets come calling, you know they gotta finish him off in style. Tunneler does the deed, drilling up into his groin as the dude tries to bench press his rage away. I can’t ask for much more than that from a Puppet Master film, and frankly, I’m surprised they held that one back until the sixth film.
All in all, Curse of the Puppet Master is nothing more than an OK horror movie with a ridiculously average plot, but thanks to the fun death scenes and the interesting direction from David DeCoteau, it succeeds in returning my faith in the series. There’s also a couple of new puppets that aren’t in the film much, but add a good layer of depth usually missing from a series’ sixth entry.
Next week, I’m going to take another break from the puppet shenanigans, by jumping into Full Moon’s recent catalog as I take a look at the first Evil Bong film in preparation for the upcoming limited theatrical release of Evil Bong 3D! I have a feeling it’s gonna be pretty bad.