When an independent film studio stumbles upon a cult classic, chances are that they’ll milk it for all it’s worth with a barrage of sequels. Full Moon Entertainment (now Full Moon Features) had its opus with Puppet Master, so we dive into the original, the sequels, and the cross-overs to see if the milking was deserved.
Movie: Puppet Master 4 (1993)
Plot: The Egyptian demon lord Sutek sees that a technology company is getting close to the secret of giving life to inanimate objects. (It’s really artificial intelligence, but let’s cut Sutek some slack. He’s old.) In order to stop this, he sends his minions out, inhabiting totem dolls, to kill off anyone involved. Fortunately for Rick Myers, Andre Toulon’s puppets are there to protect him.
Killer: Egyptian totem dolls who are inhabited by their evil priests at the behest of their demon lord, Sutek.
Critique: Let’s be clear about one thing in regards to Puppet Master 4: it doesn’t jump the shark. Sure, it may seem like the franchise is jumping the shark by having Toulon’s puppets fighting Egyptian demons, but it keeps with the canon of the Puppet Master series. Toulon received the secret of transferring a person’s soul into an inanimate object from an Egyptian sorcerer (why, we still don’t know) so it’s only fitting that Sutek, who developed this magic, would want to take vengeance against mortals who have stolen it.
Besides that, it’s pretty cool to see some puppet-on-puppet violence. And the artificial intelligence angle for Decapitron is pretty cool, although that’s a bit muddled when it seems that Andre Toulon inhabits the puppet by having his head morph in place of Decapitron’s head.
That said, what Puppet Master 4 has in originality for a story doesn’t translate into original kills. The totems all do the same thing: slicing faces up with their talons. If they did a little more, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Tunneler does his thing, Six Shooter uses a lasso, and Decapitron has the climactic power of electricity to blow a body up, but it just seems boring in comparison to the earlier films. And the poster touts Torch, who is nowhere to be seen.
Scene of Awesomeness: The totems look pretty cool. Unfortunately, they all look alike, so picking out a specific scene with them isn’t really worth it.
Scene of Ridiculousness: In one of the most ridiculous-looking green-screen effects, Andre Toulon’s head is overlayed onto Decapitron. At best, it shows just how far we have come with CGI and green-screen effects.
Body Count: 3 humans, 3 totems
3 humans clawed to death by totem dolls before having their life force siphoned away
1 totem Tunneled to the chest while being held against a wall by Pinhead and Blade (Awesomely Overkill Award, because there aren’t any interesting kills, so it might as well be the first totem killed.)
1 totem electrocuted by Six Shooter’s lasso
1 totem blown up by Decapitron’s electricity blasts
No breasts, unless you want to count Sutek’s nipples.
Actors/Actresses of Note: Guy Rolfe returns as the ghost and morphing Decapitron head of Andre Toulon. Besides that, starring actor Gordon Currie got killed in Friday the 13th Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan and a bit part in the survival movie Alive.
Quote: “I am with you, Puppet Master.” – Andre Toulon, over and over again.