Movie reviews 36 – Puppet Master IV-VI

After watching and enjoying the first three Puppet Master movies that I found on a compilation DVD, I was thrilled to find another DVD with the next three movies in the series. Alas, for the most part, the law of diminishing returns applies here as the movies lose much of their unique fun as the sequels get pumped out.

Puppet Master 4 (1993)
A young computer whiz named Rick is working on Artificial Intelligence (AI) for small robots happens to be the latest inhabitant of the old seaside hotel Bodega Bay Inn, where the usual group of puppets haunt the hallways. Unbeknown to Rick, the AI that he is working on verges on the secret of animated life that Andre Toulon, the original Puppet Master, discovered many years before. When Rick and a few friends poke around the old rooms they come across a puppet trunk with old puppet favorites Blade, Pin Head, Jester, Tunneler and Six Shooter. But the puppets are no longer the murderous bunch of old. This time around they are docile and even playful with the gang. But all is not well in a hell-like universe which is led by a demom, Sutekh. Apparently, he does not want the secret of animating puppets to fall into the hands of Rick and those in our world. He sends a few puppet-like creatures, Totems, that look like some reptilian/dinosaur mashups wearing African masks. The Totems are really bodies that are physically controlled by minions of Sutekh. The box from the nether world also end up at Rick’s workplace and kills a few of his co-workers. We soon find Rick and his friends battling the Totems with much needed assistance of the puppets. However, when they do manage to finally kill one of the Totems, that Totem’s counterpart ‘controller’ in the dark universe falls and crumbles to dust. But its a losing battle so the puppets end up building a contraption that brings to life another new puppet, Decapitron! Decapitron has a removable head that can replaced with some odd killing device. With Decapitron, the puppets win the battle. Was all that silly enough for you? Aside from some cool animation sequences from the netherworld, this movie is a pretty messy addition to the Puppet Master series.

Puppet Master 5 : The Final Chapter (1994)
This movie starts off just about where the last one left off and for a change, they’ve kept the cast from the previous movie (well not including those that died off of course). Rick is released from police custody while still being suspect in the deaths of his co-workers. But his new division boss hears about the existence of these animated puppets and wants to get his hands on them so that the company can profit from what he believes is simply superior robotic AI technology. He rounds up 3 men, with shall we say with ‘tarnished’ records, and they all meet up one night to break into the Inn to find the puppets. But Rick and his girlfriend also arrive at the hotel along with yet another incarnation of a Totem puppet from the netherworld. But this latest Totem is Sutekh himself. This movie must have been shot back to back with Puppet Master 4 as it’s pretty much just a slightly different take on the same story. The only thing of any significance in the movie is that at the end, Rick is recognized as the new official Puppet Master. Yawn.

Puppet Master 6 – Curse of the Puppet Master (1998)
An older man and his daughter live in a home where they also hold occasional puppet shows on their property. Oddly, their cast of puppets are the familiar cast of the Puppet Master killer puppets. The man claims to have found the puppets at an auction and he and his daughter don’t seem to make much of deal of the fact that the puppets are alive and scurrying all over the place. When they meet up a young gas station attendant that has a knack for intricate wood carving, the man convinces the boy to take a job with him to carve out puppets. The old man has plans for a particular puppet he wants built. In the meantime the daughter has eyes for their muscular new employee. We also know there is something fishy going on as the movie begins with the old man burying and setting fire to what is obviously a live puppet in the opening sequence of the movie. But it’s never clear as to why he killed that particular puppet. At the end of the movie, with the work completed on the new parts of the new puppet, the boy is strapped to a table and the old man transfers the young boy’s consciousness into this new ‘puppet’ that features an electronic TV screen with the boys face. Having stood silently on the sidelines, the regular crew of puppets have seen enough and decide that the old man is up to no good and has got to go. In one of the most abrupt and incomprehensible final scenes, the puppets just kill the old man. We’re not sure why they just did not do so from the start. We’re not sure what the purpose of the new puppet was. And it’s never explained why the man had to kill that puppet in the opening sequence. I had the feeling that either a lot was left on the editing floor or perhaps this version of the film suffered some unfortunate or unintentional editing. What scenes with puppets there were in this movie were unoriginal and unsatisfying.

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