I’ve been a long suffering “Puppet Master” fan who has waited patiently for the movie series to go back to its original course and head in to the deeper look in to the puppet mythos. After many years of pseudo-sequels and really awful bargain basement follow ups, we get a reboot but one that’s not a reboot, apparently. S. Craig Zahler’s “Puppet Master” is a new direction for the series that is an alternate timeline series that will exist alongside the original movie series from Full Moon. So not only do we have a crappy original series that needs a course correction, but a brand new series that’s junk from the starting gates with a feeble attempt to be provocative and controversial.
What made the Puppet Master mythos so engaging is that Andre Toulon was a puppet master who was victimized by the Nazis and was so consumed by revenge and anger he became a monster. Now the Andre Toulon (Udo Kier in a walk on) is a nazi. And his puppets are, or were, tools of the Nazis seeking to murder saps from modern society. The new take is not only irritating but seems to be included just for the sake of arousing conversation on what is an abysmal horror comedy, overall. It tries to be meta about itself, focusing on a hero who is a comic book and pop culture geek, et al. and then builds a whole new mythos where Toulon was a monstrous Nazi who delighted in making twisted puppets do his bidding.
To make things worse the new puppets have zero personality, while the original puppets that remain in the reboot have had their personalities destroyed. Blade, Pinhead, Driller, and Torch are all just weak representations of themselves, while new puppets like a demonic baby, and deadly clown frog, all lack any real life whenever they’re on screen. The entire premise of “The Littlest Reich” feels like an afterthought for what is just goofy comedy about two guys who go on a trip to a local convention, and end up at the hotel where Toulon indulged in a massacre years prior. All the characters are just there as cannon fodder, and they’re all introduced like pins at a bowling alley. They don’t so much have personalities or back stories, so much as they have targets on their backs meant to arouse conversations from the audience about how vicious their deaths will be.
There’s no need engaging yourself with anyone here, as they’re just going to be dead. In any case, the performances are solid as I enjoyed Thomas Lennon, and Nelson Franklin a great deal. And there are memorable walk on turns from Barbara Crampton, Michael Pare, and Charlene Yi. In any case, “The Littlest Reich” is an abysmal, tedious twist on a movie series that doesn’t seem to be correcting course any time soon. And I will continue waiting for a return to form for the “Puppet Master” seies when it seemed like it was going somewhere.
In theaters and on VOD and Digital HD on August 17th.