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: Curse of the Puppet Master (1998)
Plot: A Ripley’s Believe It or Not enthusiast, Dr. Magrew (honorary title only) comes into possession of our not so cuddly puppets, and becomes intent on learning how to create more. His idea? Enlisting young men with skills at wood-carving to sculpt the parts of a puppet they will eventually inhabit.
Killer: The puppets are the ones doing the killing, but it’s Dr. Magrew’s determination that really keeps the body count going.
Critique: I don’t see any reason why Curse of the Puppet Master should exist, except as a franchise money grab. That’s what most sequels are, but Curse of the Puppet Master really mails it in. Through the magic of editing, this film slashes its budget like Blade through a throat by using footage from previous films for many of the puppets’ actions leading up to a kill. It’s not always blatant, just enough to make us wince.
Another issue is that franchise canon is turned on its head for good with the return of Leech Woman, and it’s not even to give this puppet another gross leech kill. She’s just there to tick off the puppet count. It’s as if Charles Band forgot that he killed her off in Puppet Master 2, then remembers halfway through shooting but forgets to edit her out in the end.
The one thing that was cool about Curse of the Puppet Master is how they portray Tommy as a human/puppet hybrid. Not cool enough, apparently, because instead of a Hulk-like Tank human/puppet, we get Tank the killer wind-up toy.
Scene of Awesomeness: Sexual predator in training Joey gets absolutely ripped apart by Tunneler and Blade during a workout rape fantasy masturbation session. Well deserved!
Scene of Ridiculousness: It’s tough to decide, but the most ridiculous scenes in Curse of the Puppet Master are scenes that splice footage of the puppets from other Puppet Master films. Your basic SyFy channel viewer may not notice, but I do…
Body Count: 5
1 death by burning. Puppet/human hybrid lives matter.
1 face slicing followed by a Tunneler to the crotch (Awesomely Overkill Award)
1 Tunneler to the forehead
1 prerequisite puppet gang-bang
Actors/Actresses of Note: Tank, aka Josh Green, had a bit part in Pearl Harbor. Other than that, nobody really made a name for themselves after this film.
Quote: “Now, Art, we know that you and Joey were like two balls in a sac.” – Sheriff Garvey