Friday, November 26, 2010

Pull the Strings!: Puppet Master II

Charles Band won't leave us alone, so I guess I can't either.  We've officially reached the halfway point in the series, so, naturally, we're covering Part II.  I hate trying to analyze Full Moon films!  This film comes right off of the ending of Part 1, which is a rare thing to see in the series.  Mind you, there are no returning actors and only the same location, but it's an attempt.  This one is the odd one of the bunch, which is saying a lot.  Basically, Andre Toulon is evil now.  It only lasted for this film and wasn't even addressed again, save for in clips from Puppet Master: The Legacy.  I guess they wanted to try something new and then changed their mind about it.  Regardless, we have more killing, more puppets and some freaky-ass stuff overall.  Get out your random pieces of flesh for my review of...
The film begins with a group of people arriving at the same hotel from Puppet Master.  Same grainy shot of the hotel, by the way.  You guys never thought about cleaning that up or making a new one, huh?  Anyways, this group is from the American Paranormal Investigation Unit.  Fun Fact: that doesn't exist!!!  They are investigating claims made by the sole survivor of the incident that occurred there one year earlier.  What happened to the woman who appeared to master Toulon's formula?  She apparently fell into a Black Hole or something, I guess.  Don't you just love Full Moon cliffhangers that amount to nothing?  As another side note, take note of the really bad early '90s fashion worn by everyone, but especially the lead actress.  Back to the plot as our heroes investigate the place.  For all their joking and bravado, they scare instantly when a dish crashes against a wall.  The group is made up of our lead actress, her boyfriend, a horny brunette and a guy with a goatee.  The only noticeable thing about him is that he cracks jokes, questions everything and wears white shorts with a jacket.  Why did anyone ever do that?
Things turn bad one night when Tunneler breaks into the brother's room at night and gives him a frontal lobotomy.  That's what you get for watching Session 9!  The others burst in and smash the thing, but the damage is done.  The group analyzes the doll and sees that it has complex, moving parts.  They also run some sort of scanner over the thing to see that it has a form of blood flowing through it.  Did that technology exist in 1989, at least as far as one that could be hooked up to a Commodore 64?  Around this time, we get to meet another character.  She's a mean, old lady who thinks that something bad is going to happen.  After getting a bad vision, she says that she plans to leave that night.  While packing, she's attacked by Blade and Pinhead, who drag her off.  She's not unconscious or anything; she just can't muster the strength to stand up.  We also meet a pair of country folk who apparently live close to the hotel.  I'm not clear on why there's a farm and a house so close to a hotel built on a cliff, but whatever.  They try to explain that the hotel was built there as a spiritual chamber or something, but I really don't care.  Just when things look bleak, a freaky man covered in gauze and speaking with a Hungarian accent shows up.  Great- who invited Lon Chaney?!?
Big shock- the guy in the rags is actually Andre Toulon, now back from the dead after having his potion poured on him by the dolls in the beginning.  Yet again, this is not how the potion works in later films- continuity is for jerks and losers!  In a flashback, we see Toulon performing in 1912 with his Faust show.  They would show the poster in other films, so here's why!  A guy who looks like Moses shows up, sets the dolls aflame with his magic & offers Toulon and his bride Elsa a set of new dolls that work without strings.  Besides the obvious continuity change from what was established in Retro Puppet Master, you also have to accept that older Toulon had brown hair and a Hungarian accent, despite being blond with a French accent 10 years earlier.  The dolls up their body count by killing the farmer (off-camera) and eventually toasting the woman.  In another confusing bit, Leech Woman is killed and just sort of returns later in Puppet Master 6.  Watch for the stage hand catching a falling lamp before Blade kills the slutty lady too.  We learn that Toulon has a hard-on for reanimating Elsa, who he thinks inhabits the lead actress' form.  Her new man- a guy so dull that I didn't even mention him- fights past the puppets, but arrives too late to stop Toulon reviving himself in a giant, doll body.  For no reason, the other puppets turn on him and kill him.  In the end, they are driving off with Elsa, now in a giant, female doll body.  Another cliffhanger that wasn't ever resolved- perfect!  The End.
This movie is...okay, I guess.  The plot is alright, setting up the dolls to just kill some people- albeit with a focus.  It's hard to look past the elephant in the room though- Toulon being evil.  Where does that come from?  Why does he do it?  Assuming you believe in an after-life of sorts, he spent about fifty years with her there, so why the experiment?  Let's not forget that this plot thread has no bearing on Puppet Master 4, 5 and 6, which all take place after it in the story.  The stop-motion work is genuinely good here, especially some bits with Torch and a kid.  Like all Full Moon films though, the scene in question is just kind of there and serves no real purpose.  In spite of their otherwise good work, some noticeable Goofs occur.  Aside from the obvious stage hand's cameo mentioned before, we also see a good bit of another man's hand as he moves Jester around for the finale.  Seriously, what does Jester freaking do?!?  He never kills anyone that I can think of, so why is he there?  The new puppet Torch is good, but feels kind of weird.  By the way, why is he in Puppet Master 4, but not Puppet Master 6?  I really don't know the answer.  This is a stronger film as a whole than the original honestly, but it still lacks some real focus in the early parts.  It's better than stuff like Retro Puppet Master, but not as good as Part 3.
Next up, we jump to Part 4 in the series- which is part one of a two-part story.  I hope it can live up to the standard set by Trancers IV and V.  Stay tuned...


  1. Im surprised you didnt berate it further, this is one of my least favorites in the series. Toulon is just so over the top, and doesnt fit in to the rest of the series in any way whatsoever

  2. I have a reason for containing my rage against this movie...I'm just saving it for today's review.

  3. Call me crazy, but I enjoyed this one quite a bit. Even more than the original, to be honest. I know that Toulon being "evil" doesn't fit in with the continuity set up in later films--but viewing it objectively, without consideration of what is to come, I think it's pretty solid. In the original, we didn't know much about Toulon, so it's conceivable that he had a bit of a dark streak--who wouldn't be a little pissed after being stalked by Ratzis? So maybe it's parts 3 through 9 that rattled the continuity cage...not this under-appreciated sequel.

    Just a couple of thought pennies.

    My review, if you're interested.