It’s rare that I don’t automatically buy sequels and reboots to franchises already in my collection, so the third Malevolence and reboot of Puppet Master were both release day purchases. And if it weren’t for my damn OCD, I would re-evaluate my obligations to franchises.
MALEVOLENCE 3: KILLER (2018)
For me personally, Steve Mena’s trilogy, planned from the start, just never found its footing after the fantastic first film. Part 2, Bereavement, which was actually a prequel, was an entirely different film rather than the amazing love letter to 80s slashers that the first film was. Instead it was too much of a repetitive torture porn for me and I struggled to get through it.
Part 3, like Halloween II 1981, is a direct sequel that picks up right where the first film left off, complete with a flashback clip to the end of Malevolence and the killer escaping to continue his bloodbath.
But instead of Halloween II, what we get is more like the messy installment known as Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers. The good news is that the intense suspense and classic slasher vibe Mena brought to his first film is back, making the kill scenes stylistically like the original Halloween and Friday the 13th films right down to the camera angles, setup shots, and music score. Yep, still love Mena’s talent for horror atmosphere.
However, a series of victims we never get to connect with is tossed at us left and right as the killer mostly targets a bunch of kids who conveniently pass in and out of one house. Their “plot lines” are virtually nonexistent, and they somehow never realize that people are being murdered in like every room.
Meanwhile, detectives searching for the killer end up at the house of Adrienne Barbeau, whose cameo does nothing to elevate the film. She’s simply a vessel to get the detectives aimed in the right direction.
Making the film even more disappointing is that the killer isn’t an ominous, mysterious presence. We know his entire backstory from the previous films, and we know what he looks like because he doesn’t wear a mask. He’s simply a jerk with a knife who could as easily have played the role of one of the victims as the killer.
To add insult to injury, the overly long final scare scene is a dream sequence! Ugh!
PUPPET MASTER: THE LITTLEST REICH (2018)
If ever there was a reboot that left you wondering “What the hell was the point?”, this one is it. Although the tone makes this one dark and gory instead of campy and fun like the original, the basic plot could as easily have been yet another weak sequel to the long running franchise.
From an exploitative angle, the absolutely delicious, viciously gory and brutal kills are about the only place things get as campy as the original films. They’re also the only aspect of this film that could make me believe it comes from the creative force behind two favorites of mine—Wither and Blood Runs Cold.
Comic actor Thomas Lennon is the unexpected main guy, who returns home to live with his parents and comes across a creepy doll in his deceased brother’s room.
Pretty soon all the puppets are out and slaughtering the fuck out of a hotel full of people.
The ongoing Nazi plot of the series continues, with the puppets clearly targeting based on those groups Nazis hate (gays, Jews, etc.).
The onslaught of random, mostly unsavory people in the hotel is about as close to the formula of the original films as this one gets. Well, that and the fact that you can pretty much watch this crappy movie multiple times and still be oddly entertained.
The puppets are a mix of redesigned versions of some of the originals and new ones, but they simply have no personalities like the originals. Hey, at least they make the kills absolutely horrific and exploitative, especially the death of a pregnant woman.
Even so, I personally think the trophy should go to the pissing scene…
And I did kind of like the unexpected battle with something other than the puppets…
Look for appearances by Udo Kier, Barbara Crampton, and Michael Pare.