Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich
puppet master | puppet master: the littlest reich | remake | sonny laguna | tommy wiklund | s. craig zahler | thomas lennon | jenny pellicer | nelson franklin | puppet | killer doll | comedy | united kingdom | united states | charlyne yi | barbara crampton | udo kier
Film: Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich
Director: Sonny Laguna and Tommy Wiklund
Writer: S. Craig Zahler
Starring: Thomas Lennon, Jenny Pellicer and Nelson Franklin
I was really excited when I heard they were doing a reboot to the Puppet Master franchise. I know that they aren’t good, but it is a guilty pleasure of films that I grew up with. To get into this, all hell breaks loose when a strange force animates the puppets up for auction at a convention, setting them on a bloody killing spree that’s motivated by an evil as old as time.
This film kicks off in 1989 in small town in Texas. A man enters a bar, his name is Andre Toulon (Udo Kier). He orders a drink and makes inappropriate comments to the bartender who in turn is rude to him. Andre asks the young woman sitting next to him if he is acquainted with the bartender and we learn they are a couple. The two of them are killed on the way home by a couple puppets that are controlled by Andre.
We then shift to the present. Edgar Easton (Thomas Lennon) moves back in with his parents as he’s going through a divorce. His father is hard on him, as he is a former cop and disappointed that his son works in a comic book store. Edgar comes off from work and runs into Ashley Summers (Jenny Pellicer). The two of them hit it off and start to date. Edgar also finds a box of his brother’s things in the closest. In it he finds a puppet. Those that are familiar with the series will see this as a variation of Blade. It cuts his arm and he starts to look into its origins.
It appears there were a series of murders that happened a nearby town we saw earlier in the film. They hold a convention every year and this year they are doing an auction. Edgar decides to go with the puppet he found. He asks Ashley to join him and his boss, Markowtiz (Nelson Franklin) invites himself.
After they check in, they take a tour of the Toulon mansion. It is given by Officer Carol Doreski (Barbara Crampton). It is then we learn that Andre was a Nazi and that he did some heinous things before the police killed him. He’s remains are in a mausoleum on the property. There’s something not quite right about the building, as it has rebar like pipes sticking out of it.
That night the puppets that were brought by people start to come to life to kill. The police are called about a theft and then it turns into an all out war.
Something that I really need to lead off here saying is that despite my nostalgia for this series, one of the biggest issues about it is that there is no continuity to it. This one takes the series in a whole new direction. It is kind of a shame though, as this one has one of the best stories in the franchise, but it is at the cost of violating a lot of things that happen previously. I will say that now I’ve given this a second viewing, I’m fine with it. This isn’t a sequel, but a reboot for the franchise. Where previous films had Andre battling the Nazis, this one has him being a Frenchman that was a Nazi sympathizer. I did find it interesting the different types of books that are in his library, especially since this film seems to be continuing on that the puppets are psychically linked to Andre. This movie also does a solid job at building the mystery of why these puppets come to life and start to kill.
I really liked that they decided to make the puppets villains again. When I was younger I liked when they were turned good, but now that I’m an adult, I’m the opposite. This film is actually quite mean spirited in some of the deaths. I like that they establish early that Andre was a horrible human being. It makes sense when the killings start and who the victims are. They are quite brutal as well. I really dig it.
This film is actually paced really well. It gets right into it and we never get a lull. The film moves at good speed. We get the cold open and then we develop our characters. There is a bit of time to get back into the killing, but it doesn’t feel like it lasts long. Once the kills start to happen, it is a non-stop ride that I was onboard for. I will say that the ending is left open for a sequel, but I come to expect that from this franchise. If we get a similar story like we did here, I’m for that.
Acting for this film I thought was pretty good as well. Lennon I thought was solid as the hero. What is interesting about him is I know he is a comedic actor and I think his strength is in timing. He gives us enough humor while still being a solid lead. Pellicer I also liked. She is that ‘girl-next-door’, but on top of that she is gorgeous. She rounds out the film with Lennon well. Plus we see her topless, which I can’t complain. Franklin also adds some laughs. This film has some Anti-Semitism as they are dealing with Nazi puppets, but I like the change it sparks in him. It is also quite relevant to things that are happening today. I want to shout-out Crampton and Kier, as they are horror veterans. They both did just fine and the rest of the cast rounded out what was needed as well.
The effects for the film were pretty great as well, which I was surprised by. I would say a good majority of them were done practically and they looked like some of the best I’ve seen in some time for the series. There were some CGI and it didn’t look great, but there wasn’t much so it doesn’t bother me that much. I liked how they brought in the old puppets and some new ones. They did variations on the old ones, which I thought was really good. They also make them look scarier, which also helps. This film was also shot really well.
The score the first time around didn’t really stand out, but I didn’t realize that Fabio Frizzi. He’s a legend and I like that they borrowed the original theme and altered it. The soundtrack of the film definitely fits for what was needed. It helped to ramp up the tension of the scenes which is all I can ask for. It’s not the best score I’ve heard, but it does make it one of the stronger ones in the series. Shout out to Richard Band for what he did with the series as well.
Now with that said, I thought this film was really fun. It is actually the best film in the series I would have to say. This series gives me a lot of nostalgia as I grew up on it and it will always have a soft spot. I do look at this as a reboot, so any issues that normally would arise for me for violating previous continuity are null and void. The story has an interesting really brings up some social issues that are quite relevant and I thought it was paced very well. The acting was really good as were most of the effects. The score really does help to ramp up the tension when needed and definitely fit the scenes. I did like hearing the classic theme song being reworked for sure. This one is quite bloody, but if you’re a fan of the series then give this one a watch. I don’t think this film is for everyone though as it can be quite mean-spirited.
My Rating: 8.5 out of 10