Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018)

Starring Thomas Lennon, Jenny Pellicer, Nelson Franklin, Charlyne Yi, Michael Paré, Barbara Crampton, Udo Kier, Alex Beh, Matthias Hues, Skeeta Jenkins, Anne Beyer, Victoria Hande, Betsy Holt

Puppet Cast: Blade, Pinhead, Tunneler, Torch (as Kaiser), Amphibian, Mechaniker, Grasshüpfer, Mr. Pumper, Junior Fuhrer, Autogyro, Money Lender

Directed by Sonny Laguna & Tommy Wiklund

Expectations: Low, but it’s getting some good reviews.


The idea of a Puppet Master movie without the input of Charles Band was probably great news to many fans. Band’s films have always been low-budget, but Full Moon’s recent output is noticeably more threadbare and trashy than anything from their ’90s heyday. Their last Puppet Master film, 2017’s Puppet Master: Axis Termination, was a great step in the right direction, but I can’t argue that anyone other than die-hard fans will get much out of it. That being said, a Puppet Master film without Band seems weird to me, as Band’s wacko sense of lighthearted macabre is an integral part of the foundation to nearly every Full Moon film. Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich has its own style and tone, which introduces its own problems and shortcomings, and as such it is likely to split both fans and newcomers alike.

Edgar (Thomas Lennon) is a 40-something comic book creator returning to live at his parents’ home after his recent divorce. Nearby a puppet auction is set to happen at the Toulon Mansion, once home to the Nazi puppet maker who died in a stand-off with the police. Edgar still has a Blade puppet found by his brother when they were kids, so he decides to go sell it at the auction. There’s a bit more to it, but that’s all that matters for my purposes here. It’s a ridiculously simple set-up, and not a very elegant one. The film is truly not concerned with telling a story, though; it’s nothing more than an excuse to bring a bunch of people to one location so the puppets can wreak havoc on them. If that’s all you want out of a Puppet Master movie, then this one definitely delivers. That has never been the focus of Band’s Puppet Master movies, but this is a parallel series so that’s not entirely surprising.

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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!

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?

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Puppet Master II (1991)

Starring Elizabeth Maclellan, Collin Bernsen, Steve Welles, Gregory Webb, Charlie Spradling, Jeff Weston, Nita Talbot, Sage Allen, George ‘Buck’ Flower, Sean B. Ryan, Michael Todd, Julianne Mazziotti

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

Directed by Dave Allen

Expectations: High. I enjoyed the first one enough to be thoroughly stoked for this one.

On the general scale:
twostar

On the B-Movie scale:
threehalfstar


Puppet Master II definitely falls into the category of sequel that surpasses the original film. It is bigger and better in every way you’d want, featuring more puppets, more killings, and more puppets thrown against walls. What more can you ask of a low-budget horror movie? Full Moon does its flagship series proud and delivers a fun, over-the-top sequel sure to please fans of the original.

Puppet Master II opens with the puppets digging up the corpse of André Toulon and pouring a nasty green juice onto him. Rise from your grave! From here the film picks up loosely from the events of the first film. The surviving psychic from the first film, Alex, has been committed to a mental institution (and thus cannot appear in the sequel) and the Bodega Bay hotel has defaulted ownership to the federal government. The Bureau of Paranormal Investigations is dispatched to check the place out. It’s all harmless pranks and sexual encounters amongst the group until one night Tunneler creeps into one of their rooms and drills into a dude’s forehead. Let the carnage begin!

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