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.

Continue reading Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018) →

Puppet Master: Axis Termination (2017)

Starring George Appleby, Tonya Kay, Paul Logan, Kevin Scott Allen, Tania Fox, Alynxia America, Lilou Vos, Daniele Romer, Kyle Devero, Allen Perada, Jean Louise O’Sullivan, Kip Canyon, Rob Vardaro

Puppet Cast: Blade, Jester, Pinhead, Tunneler, Leech Women, Six Shooter, Blitzkrieg, Bombshell, Weremacht

Directed by Charles Band

Expectations: Low.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:


If I remember right, sometime around the release of the last Puppet Master movie, 2012’s Axis Rising, Charles Band announced that Full Moon would give the people what they want and deliver a new Puppet Master film every year. They do it with the Evil Bong films, but with Puppet Master I thought it was an especially ambitious claim. It is one they did not make good on, but given the attention paid to the production of Puppet Master: Axis Termination it definitely ended up better for everyone. Five years is a long time, but a good movie is worth more than five half-ass ones with a meager handful of tepid thrills. So yeah, the new Puppet Master is a fantastic addition to the series.

The story is not the film’s strong point, but I doubt anyone would’ve expected it to be. It’s basically just Toulon’s puppets vs. the Nazi puppets like the previous Axis films, but now with better characters! Not in terms of their depth or anything high-brow like that, more like the vanilla-white couple of Danny (Kip Canyon) and Beth (Jean Louise O’Sullivan) are immediately killed off and replaced with a musclebound soldier (Paul Logan), the dwarf magician Dr. Ivan Ivanov from Decadent Evil (now played by George Appleby) and a voodoo priestess (Alynxia America). The Nazis boast a powerful magician of their own in Sturmbahnfurher Steiner Krabke (Kevin Scott Allen), as well as his boss, the strong-willed puppet master Doktor Gerde Ernst (Tonya Kay). Maybe I’m just rusty with my Puppet Master knowledge, but I don’t ever remember this kind of purely magical stuff in the series, but regardless I loved the flavor it added to the film.

Continue reading Puppet Master: Axis Termination (2017) →

Puppet Master X: Axis Rising (2012)

Starring Kip Canyon, Jean Louise O’Sullivan, Brad Potts, Scott King, Stephanie Sanditz, Oto Brezina

Puppet Cast: Blade, Jester, Pinhead, Tunneler, Leech Women, Six Shooter, Blitzkrieg, Bombshell, Weremacht, Kamikaze

Directed by Charles Band

Expectations: Moderately high. I enjoy the Puppet Master movies.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:


If there’s one thing I love about the Puppet Master films, it’s Tunneler tunneling into people. The budgets on the modern Full Moon films ain’t what they used to be, so I’ve learned to set my expectations accordingly and I was not prepared to see Tunneler going full bore into a Nazi’s forehead within the opening five minutes of the film. I called for this in the review of the last Puppet Master film, and damn if Full Moon didn’t deliver!

In this tenth Puppet Master film (or eleventh if we’re counting the horrible, non-Full Moon Sci-Fi channel entry, Puppet Master vs. Demonic Toys), we pick up just the next day after the close of the last film, Puppet Master: Axis of Evil. It’s been over a year since I saw that one, so I don’t remember the finer details of where it ends. I recall everyone fighting on a stage and the good guys triumphing. Anyway, in this film Tunneler is quickly lost into Nazi hands and they set their resident puppet master to the task of reverse engineering him so that he can build a machine to resurrect people from the dead. How one leads to the other I don’t know, but whatever, it’s Part 10, what do you want? Anyway, the good guys Danny & Beth (here played by new, better actors) band together with an Army sergeant played by Brad Potts to take out the Nazi threat. That’s overly reductive, but it gives you the gist.

Continue reading Puppet Master X: Axis Rising (2012) →

Puppet Master: Axis of Evil (2010)

Starring Levi Fiehler, Jenna Gallaher, Taylor M. Graham, Tom Sandoval, Jerry Hoffman, Mike Brooks, Ada Chao, Aaron Riber, Erica Shaffer, Zhang Xiangfu, Gu Yingfeng

Puppet Cast: Blade, Pinhead, Jester, Tunneler, Leech Woman, Ninja

Directed by David DeCoteau

Expectations: I hope it’s better than Demonic Toys 2.

On the general scale:
onehalfstar

On the B-Movie scale:
twostar


Puppet Master: Axis of Evil is a great example of the line that separates trash and art. The film contains some of the best cinematography in Full Moon’s history and it’s clear that a lot of time and effort went into making this film look as good as they could make it look. After watching the behind the scenes vidcasts though, the film was actually made incredibly quickly, so the finished product is all the more impressive. On the other side of that coin, the film features some of the worst acting the company has to offer (I expect no less from David DeCoteau… No hard feelings though) as well as one of the most boring and factually inaccurate scripts I’ve ever witnessed. Because it skirts this line so well, Puppet Master: Axis of Evil ends up being neither good nor playfully bad, instead staying relatively safe and boring.

I love the Puppet Master films despite how poor a lot of them are. I came into this film excited, as the trailer made it look like they had actually stepped up the production values for once. Oddly though, instead of beefing up the FX budget or the script, they focused most of the money on the visual aesthetic, which isn’t the reason most people watch Full Moon movies so it seems like an odd choice. Imagine if they spent that money on the puppets! Despite this renewed focus on the visuals, virtually every set looks like a poorly dressed sound stage with flimsy-walled rooms constructed for that day’s scenes. It’s never really a problem except when there’s a wide shot with yet another wall covered by a giant American flag or a pair of propaganda war posters. In a strange way, it reminded me a lot of Lars von Trier’s set-less films Dogville & Mandarlay, where backgrounds and props were only minor mental cues to your imagination and the feeling of the sound stage was ever-present. If only Puppet Master: Axis of Evil had the acting and directing of Von Trier’s films.

Continue reading Puppet Master: Axis of Evil (2010) →

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) →

Curse of the Puppet Master (1998)

curse-of-the-puppet-master-movie-poster-1020540866Starring George Peck, Emily Harrison, Josh Green, Michael D. Guerin, Michael Sollenberger, Marc Newburger, Scott Boyer, Jason Dean Booher, Robert Donavan, Jason-Shane Scott

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:
twostar

On the B-Movie scale:
twohalfstar


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.

Continue reading Curse of the Puppet Master (1998) →

Page 1 of 212

Subscribe via Email!

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 76 other subscribers

Ongoing Series

Top Posts & Pages