While “Puppet Master 3” was a prequel to “Puppet Master” parts one and two, “Retro Puppet Master” is a prequel to the entire series. Rather than being chased by the Nazis, a young Toulon is facing off against mysterious undead agents working for a demonic force that wants his life serum. In “Retro Puppet Master,” the writers pay tribute to the original movies by re-casting Guy Rolfe as Toulon. Still running from Nazis, he camps out for the night in a cabin and regales his puppets with how he originally began his journey.
There’s apparently a puppet hell. Or at least a dimension where puppet like creatures exist. And Toulon stole their elixir that grants them life. I would love to have found out what the elixir exactly is. Is it a potion? Is it the secret to immortality? Or is it the blood from the creatures that reside within this dimension? Also, do the monsters from “Mystery Monsters” come from that realm as well? It’d have been cool to link both pictures together as one universe.
I’m not sure why, but “Ooga Booga” is apparently in the same universe as “Zombies vs. Strippers.” Not only is the strip club mentioned in passing, but Charles Band shoe horns the woefully unfunny and poorly created recurring character Hambo, a dysfunctional children’s show host in to the movie for reasons I can’t possibly fathom. Perhaps these last two films have been produced by the same person who feels the need to jump start their own Hambo movie somewhere in the future, I can only imagine. This isn’t the first time Charles Band has indicated these movies are all in the same universe, but I’m shocked that Band and Full Moon would rely on a recurring character like Hambo. I’d far more expect Full Moon to create a more enigmatic and interesting character to appear in their films to bridge stories from time to time than a perverted clown with a pig nose who hosts a kids’ show. But lo and behold, that’s what “Ooga Booga” feeds us.
“Toulon’s Revenge” is by far the best of the “Puppet Master” movies and the peak of the series. After the third installment, the series pretty much spiraled in to abysmal depths. “Toulon’s Revenge” is a smartly crafted revenge tale that takes a step back in the mythos and discovers Toulon’s life. Where parts one and two explored the evil of the puppets and madness of Toulon, “Toulon’s Revenge” is a prequel that explores a time where Toulon was a noble genius, and his puppets an innocent group of anti-heroes. With “Toulon’s Revenge,” director David Couteau manages to comprise a strong back story for Toulon, whose entire hatred toward humanity and lunacy is given a rhyme and a reason, thanks to his battle with the Nazis, and the officer that takes the life of his wise.
For reasons I can’t possibly understand, the subtitle “His Unholy Creations” has been taken off the title for “Puppet Master II,” and now it’s just “Puppet Master II.” Which is a shame, considering “His Unholy Creations” is a fine summary of the film’s entire premise. A direct follow-up to the first film, “His Unholy Creations” is a notch above the first film with a better story, thicker tension, and much more interesting grue. The characters of Toulon’s puppets are also given a clearer definition and motive. As well, they’re given a larger screen time, allowing them to wreak pure havoc on all kinds of hapless humans and really causing intense pain.
I’m assuming “Rocco” is open to interpretation for audiences everywhere as it’s a particularly twisted and demented short film about an imaginary friend and a man that may or may not be psychotic. Much of the film is incredibly muddled and not very explanatory, so I’m essentially left to figure out for myself what, if anything, the plot is alluding toward. After a series of deaths involving his old friends from his home town, a man is greeted with a box at his door. Of course logic tells us that he should open it to see what’s in it, and he does.
For once, a new “Puppet Master” movie has a plot all on its own and offers little to no clips from the previous films as filler. I was certain there’d be a segue in to a clip show, but thankfully “Axis Rising” presents something of a plot and events. As well as mythos evolution. Taking place directly after “Axis of Evil,” the villainous Ozu is caught by the Nazis and killed once her puppets are discovered in her bag. Poor Tunneler is caught by the Nazis after he murders one of the officers, and hoping to figure out Toulon’s formula, they bring him to master scientist Freuhoffer, who hopes to use the formula for his own benefit. Evil Nazi officer Moebius plans to turn rebels in to his own army of puppet soldiers, but is finding little success with gory results. With Tunneler dissected and the scientist learning the secrets, the Nazi’s just may be able to form their own army of deadly puppets.
The third entry in the “Puppet Master” series is by far my favorite. It’s my strongest memory of Full Moon in the nineties, and it made me a Full Moon fan boy for life. Back in the mid-eighties to late nineties, Full Moon was a bold studio. While their titles were hit or miss, even when they missed they were still very courageous in delivering some truly off the wall and creative genre pictures. “Toulon’s Revenge” is my favorite of the “Puppet Master” series and one I truly love to watch again and again.