Mini-Review: Puppet Master: The Legacy (2003)

Starring (New Footage): Jacob Witkin, Kate Orsini

Starring (Stock Footage): William Hickey, Charlie Spradling, Sage Allen, George ‘Buck’ Flower, Guy Rolfe, Richard Lynch, Ian Abercrombie, Aron Eisenberg, Gordon Currie, Chandra West, George Peck, Emily Harrison, Josh Green, Greg Sestero, Brigitta Dau, Stephen Blackehart, Jack Donner

Puppet Cast (New Footage): Blade, Jester, Pinhead, Six Shooter, Tunneler

Puppet Cast (Stock Footage): Egyptian Goblin, Leech Woman, Doctor Death, Drill Sergeant, Cyclops, Retro Blade, Retro Pinhead, Retro Six Shooter, Torch, Decapitron, Tank

Directed by Charles Band (as Robert Talbot)

Expectations: Extremely low, this is Puppet Master 8 and it’s mostly stock footage.

On the general scale:
halfstar

On the B-Movie scale:
onehalfstar


Okay, so this film is about 90-95% stock footage from the previous films in the series. This should discredit Puppet Master: The Legacy almost immediately, but wait! Don’t write it off just yet! There are two reasons why you might want to give this one a chance. First, if you’re a big fan you’ll want to see it for Full Moon’s somewhat noble attempt to place all the Puppet Master films in some sort of proper, epic order. Why make the films in your most popular series make sense chronologically the first time around, when you can produce a completely separate compilation film later on to “set things right”? There’s also a small framing storyline that actually ties into the series mythology in a fun, minor way for the hardcore fans, while technically serving this film as a bridge between the sections of stock footage. The other reason to watch this would be if you’ve never seen any of the Puppet Master films, and you have no intention of rooting through seven whole films before getting to this one. The film actually sums up the entirety of the series in a slim runtime just over 70 minutes! That’s either a very impressive editing job or a sad commentary on the amount of interesting story within the Puppet Master series, but I’ll go with the former.

Honestly, there isn’t a whole lot more to say about this one. It’s a bunch of stock footage. What else is there to say? The framing story is shaky, but it’s cool to see Evil Bong‘s Jacob Witkin get roped into the Puppet Master franchise in such a fun story twist. Nevermind that they never really explain anything that happens in between the previous films, so even with an entire film devoted to setting things right, there’s still a degree of mystery. I would expect no less from my friends at Full Moon. They also completely avoid any recap or footage from the awful Puppet Master 5, much to my delight.

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite moments. During the flashback to Curse of the Puppet Master, they show one of the kills that features some stock footage from Puppet Master II. And then later in this film, they showed the scene from Puppet Master II that contained the shot that was aped for the later sequence in Curse of the Puppet Master. Puppet Master nerd laughs ahoy!

Dumb jokes aside, unless you’re really hardcore for Puppet Master or you want a quick rundown of the series’ greatest hits, watch something other than Puppet Master: The Legacy.

Next week, the Puppet Master-a-thon continues with the made for TV film starring Corey Feldman, Puppet Master vs. Demonic Toys!

Retro Puppet Master (1999)

Starring Greg Sestero, Brigitta Dau, Stephen Blackehart, Jack Donner, Guy Rolfe, Robert Radoveanu, Vitalie Bantas, Sando Teodor, George Calin, Juliano Doman, Vlad Dulea, Dan Fintescu

Puppet Cast: Blade, Jester, Pinhead, Tunneler, Leech Woman, Doctor Death, Drill Sergeant, Cyclops, Retro Blade, Retro Pinhead, Retro Six Shooter

Directed by David DeCoteau (as Joseph Tennent)

Expectations: Low, this is Puppet Master 7…if I have high expectations I’m just setting myself up for disaster.

On the general scale:
onestar

On the B-Movie scale:
threestar


“Let’s begin!”

After an extended prologue, it is with this line that Retro Puppet Master truly begins and boy I never could have predicted just what an incredible journey it turned out to be. Followers of truly awful cinema know that Troll 2 holds the distinction of having some of the worst line delivery in film history. Retro Puppet Master comes close to that level of quality here, specifically the actors dubbing some of the character’s lines.

Lots of movie utilize ADR (Additional Dialogue Recording) to fix a flubbed line or make a key change to a sentence. Perhaps the actor’s voice wasn’t quite captured on the recording. ADR is used in virtually every movie but in the case of Retro Puppet Master, it’s more of a first line of defense instead of a fine tuning post-production tool. The finished film ends up being something of a midway point between a traditional film and a spaghetti western, which were shot without sound and later had everything dubbed in after photography. The work here is so bad and careless that I’m positive I could do a better job despite never working a single day doing ADR. Not only do the actor’s deliver the lines stilted and without emotion, all the ambient noise drops out of the soundtrack when a dubbed voice speaks. It’s really quite comical and actually adds lots of enjoyment to what is otherwise a very slow-moving and boring film.

Continue reading Retro Puppet Master (1999) →

Puppet Master 5 (1994)

Starring Gordon Currie, Chandra West, Ian Ogilvy, Teresa Hill, Guy Rolfe, Nicholas Guest, Willard E. Pugh, Diane McBain, Duane Whitaker

Puppet Cast: Blade, Jester, Pinhead, Tunneler, Six Shooter, Torch, Decapitron, Totem Demons

Directed by Jeff Burr

Expectations: Fairly high, because I enjoyed the last one so much.

On the general scale:
onestar

On the B-Movie scale:
onehalfstar


Oh Full Moon, why do you forsake me? Puppet Master 4 satisfied me from end-to-end and I was sure that the concurrently shot sequel would be another equally satisfying series entry. Hey, it worked for Trancers 4 & 5, right? Unfortunately, it doesn’t work here as Puppet Master 5 is two steps down in every way. They really had nothing to go on in this one, seemingly packing all the good stuff into Part 4 and dredging up whatever bullshit was stuck to the bottom of their shoes for this one. Puppet Master 5 is not without its fun moments, but like a thumbnail umbrella in a rain storm of shit, they are almost unnoticeable.

Puppet Master 5 picks up with our new puppet master, Rick (Gordon Currie), in police custody for the murders that the demon totems performed in the previous film. He gets out on bail and goes back to the hotel to retrieve the rest of the puppets and then… I don’t know what. The end goal is never really spelled out. Meanwhile, the new leader of the A.I. project takes three goons (including Christopher Guest’s brother Nicholas Guest) to the hotel to retrieve the puppets for himself. Alongside all that, Sutekh the Egyptian demon transfers his life essence into a final totem demon and sends it through the pyramid portal to the hotel. Shockingly, all of these masterful elements combine to form a tour de force train wreck of a movie. Who would have guessed?

Continue reading Puppet Master 5 (1994) →

Puppet Master 4 (1993)

Starring Gordon Currie, Chandra West, Ash Adams, Teresa Hill, Guy Rolfe, Felton Perry, Stacie Randall, Michael Shamus Wiles, Dan Zukovic

Puppet Cast: Blade, Jester, Pinhead, Tunneler, Six Shooter, Decapitron, Totem Demons

Directed by Jeff Burr

Expectations: Moderate. The series has been solidly fun so far.

On the general scale:
twohalfstar

On the B-Movie scale:
threehalfstar


Puppet Master 4 surprised me right from the start, sinking its hooks and refusing to let go until the credits rolled. Maybe it was the natural high from just coming home from a short vacation, but I thoroughly enjoyed Puppet Master 4 for all its crazy and campy B-movie fun. Many, even fans of the first three films, will instantly discredit the film due to its strange, rubber-suited Egyptian demon opening, but I couldn’t rip my eyes from the screen.

Continue reading Puppet Master 4 (1993) →

Puppet Master III: Toulon’s Revenge (1991)

Starring Guy Rolfe, Richard Lynch, Ian Abercrombie, Kristopher Logan, Aron Eisenberg, Walter Gotell, Sarah Douglas, Matthew Faison, Michelle Bauer

Puppet Cast: Blade, Jester, Pinhead, Tunneler, Leech Woman, Six Shooter, Egyptian Goblin (cameo)

Directed by David DeCoteau

Expectations: High. Really enjoyed the last two, looking forward to this period entry.

On the general scale:
twostar

On the B-Movie scale:
threestar


Puppet Master III is one of the more ambitious Full Moon pictures, seeking to shed light on puppet master Andre Toulon’s backstory by setting the entire film within 1941’s Nazi-controlled Germany. While it doesn’t always reach the heights it strives for (or even the heights of the previous two films), it still manages to be quite an enjoyable Puppet Master film thanks to a couple of good, inventive death scenes and a fairly interesting story. But know this, not a single puppet gets thrown into a wall during this one, so set your sights accordingly.

The Nazis are attempting to resurrect dead soldiers to use as meat shields, but only achieving very limited results. One of the Nazis attends one of Toulon’s shows, this one depicting a new cowboy puppet with six arms (Six Shooter) taunting and shooting at a puppet of Adolf Hitler. The Nazi confronts Toulon about it and questions him on his methods to make the puppets move without strings. After seeing and photographing some undeniable shit, the Nazi returns to headquarters and the hunt for Toulon and his secrets are on, with the Nazi doctor hoping to adapt the techniques to his work on animating cadavers. He’d probably be more successful hooking up with Dr. Herbert West though.

Continue reading Puppet Master III: Toulon’s Revenge (1991) →

Dolls (1987)

Starring Stephen Lee, Guy Rolfe, Hilary Mason, Ian Patrick Williams, Carolyn Purdy Gordon, Cassie Stuart, Bunty Bailey, Carrie Lorraine

Directed by Stuart Gordon

Expectations: Low. I didn’t know this was Empire International before I started watching it, otherwise I would have expected more initially.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:
threestar


With Dolls, I’m continuing my trek through the Empire International/Full Moon catalog. My girlfriend, after watching Ghoulies with me, felt a strong urge to re-watch this film which she had seen as a kid. As the credits began to roll and I saw Empire and Charles Band’s name, I immediately knew why she was compelled to re-watch Dolls. The power of the Full Moon had struck once again and she was powerless to do anything but watch this again. On the strength of Ghoulies I knew that I wanted to watch more of these films, but I had not expected Dolls to be one of them. I love it when a plan comes together. I happened to post my review of Ghoulies last Tuesday and now with this on Tuesday, I’m thinking of making every Tuesday for a while dedicated to Empire International or Full Moon films. I was trying to think of a snappy name for the day, but all I could come up with was Terror Tuesdays or Tuesday Trash. If anyone can think of something cool, let me know. Anyway, look forward to more of Charles Band’s brand of horror.

Dolls does not live up to the bar that Ghoulies set in my head. I still enjoyed this a great deal, it’s just not nearly as well made or fun as Ghoulies was. With that out of the way, let’s get down to business. Dolls opens with a girl named Judy riding in a car with her dad and stepmother. The parents here are downright evil and verbally abusive to little Judy. While a normal, well-adjusted person might be offended by their insults, I simply thought to myself, “Hmm, I hope they’re doing what I think they’re doing… setting these bastards up for some seriously gratifying death scenes!” The car breaks down and they all start hoofing it down the road in the pouring rain.

Continue reading Dolls (1987) →

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