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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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.

Kimani Ray Smith’s ‘Evil Feed’

So I don’t know how I came across this film but it has found it’s way on to a screen allowing me to attempt to decipher it’s madness. Made in 2013 and starring no one I can find any recognisable credits for, Evil Feed is some schlock horror that is heavy on the gore and low on characterisation.

Girl you have one hell of a character.

Evil Feed starts with the bloody dismemberment of some unknown people by the kitchen staff of a Chinese restaurant named The Long Pig. The owner of the restaurant is killed by his son who soon takes over the business and turns everything into a bid-for-parts live dining experience. A group of young martial arts fans go to a training session but find the sensei is missing, as it turns out he has been captured and forced to fight as part of the bid-for-parts dining experience. It’s up to our intrepid heroes to fight the cannibal diners and save some people they may or may not know.

Saucy?

The film is actually well shot and the gore effects are a mix of practical/digital which is usually avoided in low budget horror due to the cost of sets. To avoid the sets costing a lot of money they use only a couple through the entire runtime. The prominent 2 sets are the restaurant and a MMA arena, there is also a kitchen but that is only seen twice for around 8 minutes in total.

Nicholas Cage is still method acting his character from Face/Off in hopes of a sequel.

The acting is subpar but in horror it doesn’t need to be great, one person that does make an impact is Terry Chen who plays Steven (The psychotic son of the original owner) and hams up the entire script like it was delivered to him written on pork products.

Script delivery for Mr Chen.

As with every horror film we get some boobs and penis, blood and gore, mayhem and murder all within the 90 minute runtime. It’s a fun ride and worth watching if you haven’t seen any other film about cannibals running a restaurant this week.

I give it a Nightmare on Elm Street 5, not great but watchable.

Guillermo Del Toro’s ‘The Strain’ Episode 6

Finally I can honestly say that The Strain is now the program I wanted from the source material. The key characters act as they should as the situation worsens and people are finally reacting to the spread of the Strigoi virus. Things are heating up in the vampire action and a few stock bad guys make moves that make the audience hate them more, that is fine because we shouldn’t like the bad guys.

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Vampire kisses: usually not great to be on the receiving end.

This week opens on a shot of the imminent eclipse which is always a bad thing when vampires are involved. Setrakian kills some more Strigoi but is showing signs of slowing down due to age and attempts to recruit a taxi driver into his new silver wielding gang. Eph gets arrested after his ex wife’s boyfriend calls the FBI who turn up and drag him in for questioning, this leads to him seeing his old buddy the mortician from the first episode. Gus/Jim work together to dispose a Strigoi and Nora/her mum seek refuge from vampires before the eclipse creeps in. Finally Vasiliy mercy kills both his co workers with his can do attitude and a well placed window.

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Sunlight is also the ultimate weapon against die hard MMO players.

Everything moved at a good place this week and felt like we are progressing. The gang are still not together but we are getting there, Vasiliy and Gus are both still not in the A team but they are at least aware of other powers working towards some sort of non-blood related meal in the near future. Gus came off as more likable this episode, sadly his happy smiley cousin got to be Gus’s introduction into virology and how the infection works, which will hopefully feature prominently next week.

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Apparently a small amount of sunlight is fine for vampires.

All in all this weeks biggest gift has been that it was coherent and concise in the plot points we were presented. I am still not a fan of Sean Astin but we did not have to suffer through his presence long. The kinetic pace gave proceedings a feeling of energy and movement which is really all I have wanted from this program since it started.

I give this a Mel Gibson from Lethal Weapon, just the right amount of crazy while also hiding a bit of substance.

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I’m not even going to type the words, just insert Dirty Harry reference here.

Body Melt

 

Body Melt is a movie from the 90’s that attempts to both ape and emulate the body horror movement of the 80’s. Directed by Philip Brophy the film lacks any notable stars beyond a few people who have since had success on TV in soap operas like Neighbours. Lets try and get into the plot of the movie and see if I can make some sense from this mess.

Someone who is experiencing A Body Melt.

So the film centres around a company that produces vitamins to help increase immunity to illnesses and the health of the human race, the newest product is a powdered vitamin drink which the lucky people of Pebbles Court get free samples of. As the residents try the new drink it is revealed that it causes mutations in humans but not before causing some gory transformations. Everything takes place in a sort of anthology so each segment is treated as its own narrative with a few over arching points.

Bag pipes, this is just a picture of some red bagpipes.

After trying the vitamin drink a man begins hallucinating a mysterious women who sometimes appears as a corpse, sometimes as a normal sexy lady. He begins to feel worse and worse until finally he transforms into a pointy faced monster man. His is probably the least interesting story.

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But it is the most sexy.

Meanwhile 2 young men travel out to a health clinic to donate sperm to the mysterious vitamin company. After some car trouble the 2 are forced to visit a local farm to have the windshield replaced, the residence of the farm all appear to be a bit off but the pair try to kill some time by hanging out with them. One of the boys has sex with Bruce Willis in a wig while the other attempts to escape by getting in a car and turning left.

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Really?

Our third segment follows a family checking into the local health clinic for various reasons. The father is having issues with a runny nose, the son is hyperactive, the mother is neurotic and the daughter seems to be the only one with a brain as she notices things are not quite as they seem.

Massive tongue syndrome is sadly fatal.

In the final segment we meet a young couple who are expecting a child. The women visits the local doctor who injects her with some mystery liquid and her foetus transforms into a monster which rips her apart and forces itself into the throat of the man. The finale is dedicated to him vomiting on the police force as they murder him in cold blood for being all messed up. 

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Ouchies!

The plot just does not work but the director really works hard to tie all the stories together with book end segments involving Howard from Neighbours as a villainous doctor. The problem with the film is that, despite all the work to make the different segments fit, they just do not. None of those stories are supposed to be part of an anthology, that is most evident when watching the middle section involving the Australlian hillbilly and the time shifts massively.

Wait, Bruce Willis is in this?

I would not recommend this film to most people but if you are into gory body horror then this should be treated as a curiosity, the special effects are very good and some of the scenes show sparks of inspiration. The acting and script are pretty awful but that may also act as part of the charm in a group viewing.

This film really does live up to the title Ozploitation and in the process of doing so, earns itself a score of one Dustin Hoffman out of Patrick Swayze.

Evil Ed

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This title card looks incredibly familiar.

So here we go. Evil Ed is a film made in 1995 by a man named Anders Jacobsson in his home country of Sweden on the shoe string budget of SEK 250,000 (£22000) which explains why the film feels like something made around the 80’s. From the beginning till the end it really does invoke a sense that you maybe watching something by a young Peter Jackson both in terms of story telling and special effects. I get the sense that maybe the director was a fan of these films and wanted to make something of a homage to those types of exploitation movies which would also explain the reason why much of the cast are doing painful American accents.

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A perfectly normal human nerd.

The plot revolves around Edward (Johan Rudebeck) who is a mild mannered film editor transferred to the Splatter & Gore division. The company have recently purchased a few notorious films from Europe and have Ed edit them down so they can be classified for a wider release. As Ed watches these movies he steadily descends into madness and starts killing anyone who gets in his way driven by various hallucinations. Eventually he is captured and taken to a mental asylum but breaks free for a 20 minute finale in which he murders everyone unfortunate enough to find themselves in his eye line.

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There is actually some pretty good make up.

The film is fun and simply laid out, like the Peter Jackson films we get the perspective of the killer as this is essentially a film about only him. Most characters are fodder who rarely get more than a few lines to protest being gorily murdered, outside of that we know Ed has a child and wife but they get forgotten once we see Ed in his final form. Everything just works well, they have chosen a tried and tested formula that works well with the antagonist being the main character. We don’t need to know much about Ed except that he is a nice guy gone bad due to the circumstances he has been thrust into.

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Who would have thought that Evil Ed would be defeated by a simple case of exploding hand.

I would recommend this film if you are a gore hound or just a fan of horror, in both of these categories this film delivers, do not go into it expecting much more and you will be happy.

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A rare case of face versus shotgun and with the face winning.