David DeCoteau’s ‘Puppet Master 7: Retro Puppet Master’

Here we go again, back into the fray once more my friends, once more into the bitter night. Puppet Master 7 is a prequel to all the films preceding it, we will finally learn where it was that Toulon learnt to the secret which allowed him his string less marionette’s (A plot point first seen all the way back in Puppet Master 2). Let’s get into the wood and paint of this.  Not how you spell college

Fun Fact: This is not Swedish for college.

So we join Andre Toulon (Guy Rolfe) on the run from the Nazis and hiding out in one of his old bases located in Switzerland. Within his puppet case he finds the head of one of his original creations named Cyclops and recounts the Puppet Master Origin story to his animated marionettes.

The story starts with a man named Afzel (Jack Donner) a 3000 year old Egyptian sorcerer running from some assailants through Cairo. He defeats his pursuers and begins his journey to Paris. We cut to Paris in 1902 and the young Toulon (The Room’s Greg Sestero) whose friends are helping him operate his puppets in a large theatre. Meanwhile Elsa (Brigitta Dau) is the daughter of an ambassador and has run away in order to escape her father’s tyrannical hold.

Elsa arrives at the theatre to watch the show but is distracted once she spots and falls instantly in love with Toulon. Afzel appears on the steps of the theatre injured by 3 Egyptian mummies resurrected by Suketh; Toulon is told the story of the spell of animation (Which Afzel stole in the beginning) and taught the secret thus taking his first steps to becoming the Puppet Master. Elsa’s father does not approve of her new love, deciding that it is best for her to be taken away from Paris and married to another (Which he appears to have chosen).

The 3 mummies return and kill Toulon’s friends when they attempt to defend the theatre. Using the souls of his fallen comrades Toulon animates his friend’s puppets and the fight is on, to save Elsa, stop Suketh’s groovy ghoolies and escape Paris, all the while making his first steps towards becoming a true Puppet Master.

Evil guys

These are reanimated mummies.

I don’t know if you can tell from that plot synopsis but this film has a lot going on and (Surprisingly) handles it all very well. The story makes some modicum of sense which is great, I just wish this was the start to the series and not the end of the initial run. Information is given in a clear way and Guy Rolfe’s scenes offer a nice intro, I have stated previously that he was a highlight of these movies and that still rings true in this entry. All the puppets are given the souls of Toulon’s friends and this makes us slightly more invested in them but it isn’t made clear if they are the same as the current iteration of puppets.

Young Toulon

This guy went on to start the Realdoll company.

All in all this film does well at adding to the mythology and isn’t difficult to enjoy. The accents maybe terrible in places and the cliché characters could be ripped from any film but this is a cheesy horror film which means we allow some small indiscretions. I enjoyed this movie and would recommend watching it before any of the other films. It serves as another nice high point, gives context to the different puppets and shows us the basis for Toulon’s romance with Elsa.

Retro Squats

The spell requires you take a squat on the dead bodies face.

I hold this film in high regards and would give it a Timothy Olyphant, it won’t be the film you expect to watch but it’s always a bt of a treat.

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Jeff Burr’s ‘Puppet Master 5: The Final Chapter’

We are back to Puppet Master and this time it is apparently personal. You know the deal at this point and hopefully don’t expect too much from these films, the supposed final chapter was going to be the end to the series but they decided to carry on with the franchise. This is the 2nd film in the series to be a direct sequel to the previous installment bringing back Gordon Currie, Guy Rolfe and Teresa Hill. Lets dive into this tale of dark goings on in a world beyond the vision of man, a world populated by animated creatures by devious magic. Lets get it on.

Not a Police Station

Not a police station.

So the film opens with the previous protagonist Rick Myer (Gordon Currie) being accused of murder due to the killings at the Bodega Bay Motel. Rick has a witness who would be able to confirm that he did not murder his friends but sadly the witness is his girlfriend Lauren (Teresa Hill) who has fallen into a coma. After hearing his torrid tale of terrifying tools manifested by the god Suketh, the new head of artificial intelligence and Ricks new boss Susie (Chandra West) decides to post bail and help investigate further. Turns out Suketh is still stewing about the whole losing to a mortal thing and takes the drastic action of putting his essence into one the spiky bastards from the last film. With Suketh now on Earth hunting Rick he will need all his friends back again to prove his power, possibly defeat Suketh and save Lauren. Will he suceed witht he help of Obi Wan Toulon (Guy Rolfe)? Will he take the mantle of Puppet Master? What will worry the world of who Suketh be?

Kind of hot

Weird but in a sexy way.

I have watched many bad films in my time, sometimes those films are campy neon drenched madness and sometimes they are boring dull repetitive wastes of celluloid. At this point we have experienced some bipolar quality issues from this series and this film doesn’t help, considering the entry before The Final Chapter was enjoyable on a few different levels, it is even more dissapointing to watch something like this. On the plus side because Suketh has put his essence within a vessel to send to Earth we no longer have to see the awful puppet version but the negative effect of this is we don’t get the slight campy feeling of this obviously awful thing bumbling about. The villains are once again the scabby little things which have no personality or shock value (Especially now they have been used for 2 films).

Suketh Sucketh

If you cannot tell, that puppet has been shot.

The plot plods along and we get to a place that makes sense within the realms of the fictional universe that has been set up, the problem is that the universe has lost it’s most dynamic and interesting character. The sense of a scrambling need to bring back Toulon is evident towards the end when we once again get an appearance from Guy Rolfe giving the same message from Puppet Master 4. There is no use in asking why in this film because we know why, money. Everything wrong with this series is the continuation of a series that should have died but didn’t, it should have died but like Toulon they retcon what they can and revive it.

Still a Puppet

Suketh Sucketh. See what I did there, fucking word boom.

Blargh, well it happened I watched it and now we have to do Puppet Master 6. In terms of a school for this one it gets a David Spade, you’ll remember the past and a little nolstagia will drift in but then you remember what it did later on which makes you sad.

Guy Rolfe

Stop it Guy Rolfe you are better than this!

Jeff Burr’s ‘Puppet Master 4: The Demon’

Well here we go, number 4 in the Puppet Master series and it’s getting a bit easier to watch these. Quality is not always something you can expect but there is never a lack of interesting things to see. Number 4 brings back Mr Toulon played by Guy Rolfe who is a great addition to the cast and brought warmth to the role which helped the shift in tone for film 3. Lets get to the tatties and pies shall we?

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This is a massive puppet of Suketh and I find it hard not to laugh as it waves it arms.

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When you see this shot you should hear Aerosmith singing “Back in the Saddle”

We open up on Suketh who as it turns out is the original holder of the spell to animate inanimate objects. Suketh is pissed since the spell was stolen and has been so flippantly used by humans for all the monkey shines from the previous movies, so he decides that it’s time to send down some of his own 12″ monsters. Back on Earth we find the Bodega Bay Hotel has a new occupant in the form of Rick Myer (Gordon Currie)  A young man working on artificial intelligence systems for a the government and moonlighting as the off season caretaker for the hotel. Rick has his girlfriend Susie over the night but she decides to bring a few friends for an impromptu party during which the Puppets are found, awoken and appear to be in the mood to help. As the demons arrive the Puppets do battle with Suketh’s evil forces while defending the party guests. With the hep of Andre Toulon’s spirit (Guy Rolfe) will Rick be able to save his girlfriend and by extension her friends? What is Suketh doing hiding and not going to Earth himself?

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Puppet Fight!

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That thing looks sharp and deadly but is actually only 12 inches tall.
The good first then we can have a big old shit sandwich 2nd. One good thing is that the characters are a little more like cannon fodder this time around, other than Rick most are cliché horror movie types but the film knows that and moves along briskly without wasting time with exposition. Suketh’s evil monsters are scabby little bastards and while not intimidating they are freaky little things. Guy Rolfe returning is a treat, once again he elevates the series and takes the original Puppet Master from stock German villain into something so much more, the tragic element has been abandoned and he now stands as the Obi-Wan figure promising to train Rick.

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Pinhead is great at working the tip but not so good with the shaft.
The bad and slightly bad. Mr Suketh is a terrible bit of FX work, this massive shambling puppet is one of the worst things in the series and the biggest crime is that he is entirely unnecessary, removed from the plot everything would have been streamlined but included it adds nothing but runtime. In terms of dialogue and writing there could have been a few lines cut or just rewritten to add some finesse to proceedings.

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The last shot is of the puppets waving goodbye and it is spectacular.

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When Suketh is angry you better believe he is going to flail his arms around madly!
In terms of enjoyment this film ranks 2nd of the titles reviewed so far. The series really lacks definition, sometimes being too camp or humorous for horror but not funny enough for comedy, this film is not a victim of that and nicely settles for horror of the House-under-siege variety. I liked it, it’s worth seeing and it gets a Tom Atkins from me, if it was any other series of films I would not rate it so highly but it reached above mediocrity and those are lofty heights for the Puppet Master movies.

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Look, everyone’s favourite puppet! Sexually ambiguous Nazi man person!

David DeCoteau’s ‘Puppet Master 3: Toulons Revenge’

Well I haven’t gone blind so lets continue our adventure into the mystical world of the Puppet Master! Number 3 arrives with the original director and a new actor playing Toulon plus a few better known actors join the cast for this time warp to a time before Bodega Bay Hotel. We are up to the third film, only 7 to go after this and I can rest, maybe go on to some sort of romcom. For now we are dealing with monstrous marionettes and it’s time to cut the jib.

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Take that puppet Hitler, you son of a bitch!

The film opens up in nazi controlled Berlin and a small Puppet show taking place, we see children laugh as six shooter takes a couple of shots at Hitler. The show ends with Andre Toulon (Guy Rolfe) handing our sweets to the children while a very Aryan man waiting to speak to the Puppet Master. It is soon found that Toulon has the ability to bring life to the lifeless and the Nazis begin hatching a plan to steal the secret. Cue the shooting of Elsa Toulon (Sarah Douglas) and the Puppet Master using his wooden friends to exact revenge on the bastards who took his wife, his town and the lives of so many. Will he succeed in driving back the Third Reich? What do the Nazis wish to animate with the formula?

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Nazis; always doing some evil shit with science and the occult.

So as per usual we are going to start with the good then get on to the bad. First and foremost, Guy Rolfe is amazing and deserves recognition for his role in this film, I spent half the film in awe of his dialogue. The director made a wise choice moving the action to Nazi Germany this time around, we instantly have more villainous forces at work and Toulon is made sympathetic easily after he loses his wife to monsters all too real.

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These muppets make it hard to understand the tone of the scene, one is fucking happy and the other looks like it’s a pissed on cornflakes morning.

Here goes the bad. The film itself is the first of many instances of plot holes appearing in this series, Toulon being alive after his apparent suicide in the 1939 does call into question the psychics reasons for being at the Bodega Bay Hotel (Although he eventually turned up there it wasn’t within the same time frame). Leech Women from Puppet Master 2 is also shown to be inhabited by the soul of his wife but when she died in the 2nd film he didn’t even question Blade or Torch on her whereabouts. There are more things that felt off and didn’t match the previous films plot but I don’t think most people will watch these films back to back so it maybe less noticeable normally.

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No bad words will be said about this man.

All in all I found this film incredibly enjoyable especially when compared to the previous 2. I would give it a Julia Roberts, you may not be expecting great things to begin with but it should surprise you.