Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Puppet Master 3

I have to hand it to the Puppet Master movies: I’m three films in now, and each one has been a visible improvement over the previous movie. Here, we get to see, if not quite the origins of the OG Puppet Master Andre Toulon (Guy Rolfe, the third actor to play the role, though he would go on to repeat the role in another three films), how he spent his time when the Nazis had taken over and decided his living puppets needed to be replicated for the war effort.

As a great many filmmakers already know, there is no concept so great that it can’t be improved by throwing Nazis into the mix, and director David DeCoteau (who IMDB informs me also directed Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama, which I may have to crush on him a bit for) clearly understands that. We get an evil Nazi officer (Richard Lynch) who decides to capture Toulon and, just to show he means business about forcing him to make puppets for the Reich, guns down Toulon’s wife in front of him. Somehow this breeds a measure of rebellion in Toulon’s heart, and he manages to escape, leading to a showdown between his puppets and the major’s forces.

First, it has to be said that the period setting enables, in addition to all the cool Nazi imagery (say what you want about the regime, it had a pretty snappy look to it), the introduction of yet another neat new puppet in the form of Six Shooter, a cowboy with six arms (and a revolver in each, of course), presumably to help add to the overall firepower of the puppets now that they’re facing an actual army. We even get to see here the creation of Blade, who has always been probably the most “iconic” of the puppets (I may be wrong on that, but I doubt it -- come on, he was based on Klaus Kinski, people!). Sadly, we don’t get Torch here, despite him being outright dressed like a Nazi storm trooper, but I suppose you can’t have everything.

Unfortunately, while we do get a nice new setting, better screenplay, and better acting than we did in the first two, we do run into one slight snag, and that is that it’s not really much of a horror movie at all. The puppets are now unquestionably in the heroes’ camp for this one, and the kills noticeably suffer as a result. There’s not much available in the way of stalking and killing, and most of the Nazi deaths come at the hands of Six Shooter simply gunning them down instead of Tunneler drilling holes in them, Blade slitting their throats, Leech Woman puking up an army of leeches onto them, or Pinhead punching them right in the damn face. It’s a change that fit’s the story, but I can’t help but feel a little let down all the same.

Still, despite that, it’s easily the best film yet in the series, and I’m eager to find out if they can actually keep this momentum going. At this rate the recently released Puppet Master: Axis of Evil (the ninth or tenth in the series) must no doubt be one of the greatest horror movies ever made. I can only hope that actually winds up being true.

Rating: ** ½

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