Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018)

director: Sonny Laguna, Tommy Wiklund
release-year: 2018
genres: horror, comedy
countries: USA
languages: English

This is the thirteenth (!) film in the Puppet Master series, and the first directed by a Swede. They haven't been anything even approaching good since 1994, but IMDB promises that this one is not completely horrible. The first scene is purple and blue, to let you know it's a horror movie from the 2010s. A German man with a messed up face tells the bartenders he's from France, the bartenders make out, and he storms off, angrily muttering about homosexuals.

If you've seen Puppet Masters 1 through 12, you know who it is.

The bartenders are decapitated moments later, and the cops find some wee little tiny footprints running away from the car.

It's what you like to see in intros.

The German man is now in an electric box, and he communicates telepathically with some murder puppets. The cops run into some big house and start shooting. This is all before the opening credits roll; this film is clearly on an accelerated schedule.

Credits artwork is fabulous.

Post-credits we meet Eddie – more widely known as Lt. Dangle – a man who delivers his lines strangely and mutters. He is moving into his parents' house after his divorce and immediately finds some murder puppets in the closet. His dad is a real dick to him because he's 40 and draws comic books. I see now that Lt. Dangle has the same eyes as Joe Lo Truglio. Did you have to have those eyes to be a member of The State?

Puppet Master 9-9!

Hey, look at that, there are a ton of murder puppets available on eBay!

Any horror series that reaches number 13 necessarily becomes self-referential.

Lt. Dangle is looking to sell his dead brother's murder puppet, and his sexy neighbor and grindcore-loving boss tag along for the car trip to help him deliver deadpan comedy riffs. They drive to a convention about the now-dead Andre Toulon and his murder puppets. The tour is given by that intro cop, who says she shot Toulon to death and he's a terrible nazi who used his murder puppets to torture jewish women to death.

I wish there were murder puppet conventions in my city.

It is very explicitly called out that several of the people in the convention, including Lt. Dangle's boss, are jewish. Then all of the murder puppets go missing. Uh oh.

Small hints and clues are available if you pay very close attention.

The missing puppets waste no time in getting to murdering. The jewish connection is lost pretty quickly… they kill pretty indiscriminately, but with the standard horror restriction that women should only die naked. They try to bring it back around to general "hate crimes" later. The murdering continues at an unprecedented rate, and everyone gets stuck in the now-dark hotel.

Women: leave your clothes on if you want to live.

The puppets look great, and their grotesque slaughters usually look pretty good. The kills are all very swift; they don't linger on puppets or mutilation. No more five minute shots of a puppet slowly creeping down a hall, like we had in the early Puppet Master films.

Don't blink or you'll miss them.

Lt. Dangle's friend agrees to be jewish bait to lure the puppets out. It doesn't go great, and a hotel guest starts murdering people, too. When he's killed, they find a little baby Hitler puppet inside him. This is following by a boring lull in the film when they uninterestingly establish a reason for Lt. Dangle and his friend to split from the rest of the group and wander around the hotel with a gun.

Puppets don't care about babies.

The cinematography hasn't been so bad up to this point, but the shots get pretty messy and confusing here as Dangle and friend are attacked by a slew of puppets. The puppet attacks feel overly rushed, while the friend's death feels very annoyingly unrushed. Get on with it!

I like it when they die quickly.

Dangle and his girlfriend go for a little post-murder-party comedy skit drive, and then smash their car into the electric box that Toulon's corpse was controlling the puppets from. The puppets collapse, mid-murder, and a few people survive. Toulon wakes up as a nazi skeleton zombie, though, with purple electricity inside him. Dangle whacks him with a pipe, so he shoots the girl in the head and wanders off into the woods.

The nazi zombie scene is under-lit.

But then… was it real, or was it just a comic book? We'll never know, because they funded a reboot instead of a sequel!

Which got piss-poor reviews.