PUPPET MASTER (1989)
The epic series about puppet maker (master) Andre Toulon, who brings his creations to life—as little killer monsters, begins in a hotel, with the unforgettable eerie carnival-like theme song that belongs right up there with classic horror movie music.
Meet the puppets. Pinhead has a big body but a little, um, head. No, literally, his head is small. Tunneler is endowed with more phallic power—he’s got a huge drill for a head. Blade runs around in a trench coat like he’s ready to flash you. But what he really flashes is his deadly blade. And then there’s unforgettable Leech Woman, who totally moans and groans with erotic pleasure when she kills, even though she’s a spitter…of leeches! Nasty.
Leech woman pretty much put this series on the map when she leeched on to a guy strapped to a bed. Kinky be-otch. But all the puppets have memorable moments, and this movie rox the puppet height POV combined with a classic stalker heavy breathing. On top of that, there’s blood, psychics, fortune tellers, and all the classic horror clichés.
PUPPET MASTER II (1991)
More puppet power! Puppet Master II introduces new puppets to the fray, which leads to a whole lot of fire situations. A group of attractive paranormal investigators comes to the hotel to investigate. The guys are really cute in this one and often shirtless.
And as you can see, there’s a naked firefighter….
There are also girl boobs and bloomers. There’s even an “invisible man” type character in bandages and sunglasses. And finally, this one gets into always creepy life-size puppet territory.
PUPPET MASTER III: Toulon’s Revenge (1991)
Let the backstory begin! We go back to Berlin in 1941 so we can learn why Toulon set his puppets loose on the world. And wouldn’t you know it was because of a woman? There are Nazis and a scientific plot to reanimate corpses (there are hints of “zombies”). I generally dislike period pieces, Nazi plots, and revenge films, and this is all of those. Homoerotic horror master David DeCoteau directs, and yet all we see are some chick boobs. Not to mention, the puppet action is pretty lame. DeCoteau delivers the gay goods later in the series.
PUPPET MASTER 4 (1993)
Yay! Back to the present. Part 4 is awesome just because it’s so different. Puppet Master goes sci-fi slasher. There are laser guns, robots, demons (trying to protect “the secret of life”), little Gremlin/Alien hybrids, stupid kids that summon the baddies, and a shirtless hottie.
The puppets are the good guys taking on the Gremlin-Aliens, so no horny men getting sucked off by leeches.
Open the trench coat and show him what you’re packing, Blade!
PUPPET MASTER 5: The Final Chapter (1994)
The Final Chapter? Yeah right. Jason said the same thing in 1984. The shirtless hottie from part 4 is back. The demons are back. The Gremlin/Aliens are back. The plot is almost identical; protect the secret of life! There’s great gore and plenty of welcome victims—suits and slimeballs. This is the most sci-fi the series has been yet.
CURSE OF THE PUPPET MASTER (1998)
Returning to form, this is classic Puppet Master, with the original dolls, original theme music, an old farmhouse, thunder and lightning, an eerie basement workshop, and brutal kills. It’s also directed by gay horror guy David DeCoteau.
Dozens of beautiful bodies practically naked and tied up.
It’s like borderline porno horror….
With so many tits….
You’d never guess a gay guy directed it.
This might be my favorite in the series….
RETRO PUPPET MASTER (1999)
David DeCoteau takes us even farther back than 1941 Germany. There are flashbacks to ancient times, including mummies and pyramids. A sorcerer escapes with the secret of life and is chased to…Paris, 1902. Ugh. Another period piece. We find out how young Toulon learns to bring the puppets to life. And there’s even a hetero romance. You’ve really let me down this time Mr. DeCoteau. This entry in the series is LAME.
PUPPET MASTER: The Legacy (2003)
If you don’t want to watch the first 7 movies, this recap movie is the way to go. More than half of it is flashbacks from the previous flicks. Some woman who wants to steal Toulon’s formula for bringing the puppets to life is told the history of the puppets.
PUPPET MASTER vs. DEMONIC TOYS (2004)
Check out my blog about the Demonic Toys films because they steal the show in this sequel!
PUPPET MASTER: Axis of Evil (2010)
David DeCoteau returns as director and was clearly warned never to make a homoerotic Puppet Master movie again. This is essentially a World War II movie about the Nazis and Japanese. The puppets have a small cameo.
PUPPET MASTER X: Axis Rising (2012)
The 10th film in the series picks up pretty much where the last one left off with the same characters—but different actors! It’s yet another Nazi film, but moves to the extreme opposite of the heavy tone of the 9th film. This is total camp, with a sexy Nazi bitch, a Nazi bimbo doll with shooting tits, ridiculously patriotic dialogue, and tons of puppets. They should have ended the series here to leave us with the cheesy campy horror series we first fell in love with.
PUPPET MASTER: AXIS TERMINATION (2017)
The final chapter of the “AXIS Saga” came just in time to put this series to death. This 75-minute movie is basically 60 minutes of a group of psychics enlisted by the military and a group of Nazi psychics discussing their powers and their puppets before they all get in a battle in the last 15 minutes.
Horror hunk Paul Hogan is leading the good guys, but sadly he never takes off his shirt. Other than that, the puppets deliver the usual bloody kills at the end, the doll with the shooting tits is back, and a Nazi woman makes a Nazi man lick her shoe. That’s about as exciting as this gets. It was definitely time for a reboot.
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.
BLADE: THE IRON CROSS (2020)
After a reboot set in modern times and loaded with gore, the series gets its ass kicked back to the 1940s for more Nazi bullshit. Making matters worse, this is a spinoff, with Blade getting his own movie that he’s barely in until the final fifteen minutes.
So what was done to make this 70-minute movie different in some way? The evil Nazi scientists torture men and then turn them into zombies! Timing is everything, so it was really unnerving watching the Nazis electrocuting a hunky Black guy while talking about the master race.
Anyway, a female reporter ends up with some sort of psychic link to Blade and hopes he can help stop the Nazis. When she digs into his trunk, it’s a slap in the face to see all the other puppets sitting dormant as he is favored to be the star.
There are more zombie scenes than Blade scenes, and at least they’re gnarly. More disappointing is that this doesn’t go for it and become a Blade vs. zombies movie! WTF?
In the final fifteen minutes Blade hacks up all the Nazis. Sadly, whenever you see him running, he’s now CGI. I don’t understand why they didn’t just go classic and feature Blade POV whenever he was on the move.