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John’s Horror Corner: Curse of the Puppet Master (1998), and what should have been the death of a franchise

July 6, 2013

MY CALL:  Hands down, the worst of the franchise.  Even serious fans will likely find nothing but disappointment here.  IF YOU LIKE THIS WATCHPuppet Master (1989), Puppet Master II (1991; the most slapstick crazy of the first three), Puppet Master III (1991) and Puppet Master 4 (1993).  Also try Ghoulies (1985) and Ghoulies II (1988).  SEQUEL SIDEBARPuppet Master III (1991; set in 1941 and having the highest production value of the first three franchise installments) is actually a prequel to Puppet Master (1989), which occurs decades later in present day and is seamlessly followed story-wise by Puppet Master II (1991; which was the least serious, most zany installment).  Puppet Master 4 (1993) returns us to present day after Puppet Master IIPuppet Master 5 (1994) picks up right where part 4 ended and marks the most noticeable drop in quality of any other franchise installments.  But Curse just gets worse.

David DeCoteau (Puppet Master III, Dreamaniac) has returned to the franchise and is steering it catastrophically off a cliff.  What’s wrong with it?  SO MUCH!  For example, the lead character may not be Toulon, but he behaves exactly like Toulon.  Why?  No apparent reason.  Just bad writing.  It doesn’t “mean” anything.  MAIN CHARACTER FAIL!

Dr. Magrew (George Peck; Dawn of the Mummy) runs the “House of Marvels.”  His star attractions are Toulon’s animated creations Blade (Parts 1, 2, 4 and 5), Pinhead (six movie veteran), Jester (six movie veteran), Six-Shooter (from parts 1, 4 and 5), Tunneler (six movie veteran) and Leech Woman (parts 1, 2 and 3), all of whom he purchased at an auction–we receive no further explanation of this shady backstory nor does the House of Marvels come into play later.  So why bother telling us these things at all?  Writing 101, people!  You don’t put a gun on the wall in Act 1 unless it’s going to be fired in Act 3.   PLOT FAIL!

Ever since, he’s been trying and failing to create his own living puppets.  This is another plot element that gets no proper development other than a ‘nod’ later in the movie.  This could have saved the story. Instead, it just worsens it like a cancer because you really want to know more about these failed efforts–are they little monsters?  DOUBLE PLOT FAIL!
I would love to see how this little guy was made, and at what cost.  Are there others? Do they all look like that.  Folks, THIS idea is cooler than this whole movie!

To redouble his efforts Magrew hires a talented wood carver (Tank) to help him in his endeavors.  Because clearly it’s good wood work, and not next-gen science or Toulon’s sorcery, that is holding him back from playing God!  TECHNOLOGY FAIL!  So Tank moves in with Magrew and his cute teenage daughter (Jane).  For whatever reason, Magrew has no issue with moving a strange quiet man he just met like YESTERDAY into his house under the same roof as his cute teenage daughter.  That’s a TRIPLE PLOT FAIL and a FERTILE VIRGIN DAUGHTER FAIL at the same time!
Yeah, as if any hot-blooded man would move some strange dude who’s “good with his hands” in him and his daughter.

For whatever reason–hey, wait a minute.  I’m saying “for whatever reason” a lot in this review.  I think it’s because the writing and direction were so idiotically haphazard that I truly don’t know “the reason” that things are happening in this movie!  Any, for whatever reason, Tank has nightmares that he is part puppet–like, for real, half-man, half-puppet.  No clue as to why.  In the first 45 minutes of the movie, these nightmares are all of the “action” we get, making this is, by far, the slowest and most boring of the Puppet Master franchise.  DREAM SEQUENCE FAIL!
Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh! Puppet parts!

Magrew transitions from a nice old guy with some puppets into a something of a sociopath.  But with this change we find little satisfaction.  The death scenes are few and only Tunneler, who drills a guy in the crotch while he’s bro-ing out blasting his pecs, seems to get any worthy screen time.  To properly appreciate how underutilized the characters were I’d like to point out that a character named Leech Woman never shows us why she’s named Leech Woman.  LEECH WOMAN FAIL!
Like this really couldn’t fit in their budget?  Come on!  This scene probably cost 10 bucks!

There were some lame blood splatter attempts, but the effects were clearly the worst of the franchise.  The puppets were often poorly puppeteered rather than the classic stop-motion that Puppet Master fans craved, the body count was too low, the kill creativity was non-existent and, making matters worse, the movie basically just ended in the middle of a scene that certainly did not feel like an ending.  What–did they run out of money at that exact moment?  OUCH!  ENDING FAIL!
You know what?  I just don’t care any more!  SPOILER ALERT!  The ending looks like this.
Then this happens…then they roll the credits.
WTF?  That’s it?  For realzies?  That screen shot is the last second of the movie?

Hands down, the worst of the franchise.  This FAILS us in every way imaginable.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. July 6, 2013 10:54 pm

    Reblogged this on HORROR BOOM and commented:
    Here’s a great, and hilarious, review by John Leavengood on the worst movie in the Puppet Master franchise, with lots of helpful photos. I suppose I could review it myself, but guess what? I’M NOT SITTING THROUGH THIS SHITTY MOVIE! So thanks, Mr. Leavengood, for falling on the grenade for us, we appreciate it, plus your review is much more entertaining than the flick itself. We horror fans gotta stick together!

    • johnleavengood permalink
      July 6, 2013 11:34 pm

      Thanks so much for that. Always pleased to learn that someone appreciates my awful-inspired ranting. I signed up to follow you in kind.


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  2. John’s Horror Corner: Retro Puppet Master (1999), the seventh installment of a franchise that just doesn’t seem to know when to quit | Movies, Films & Flix
  3. John’s Horror Corner: Puppet Master: The Legacy (2003), this incredibly annoying eighth franchise installment serves as a nothing more than a review of the past movies with loads of stock footage | Movies, Films & Flix
  4. John’s Horror Corner: Puppet Master: Axis of Evil (2010) | Movies, Films & Flix
  5. John’s Old School Horror Corner: Creepozoids (1987), yet another low budget 80s Alien rip-off | Movies, Films & Flix
  6. John’s Horror Corner: Hideous! (1997), it’s not your typical mutant monster fetus movie | Movies, Films & Flix
  7. John’s Horror Corner: Head of the Family (1996), a delightfully tasteless sleazy horror comedy | Movies, Films & Flix

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