Monday, November 22, 2010

Pull The Strings!: Puppet Master III

David DeCoteau directed a film without shirtless guys and gay subtext?  That's news to me!  Let's check this one out then.  This is Puppet Master 3, aka the second film chronologically in the series.  My brain hurts!  This film is set in 1941 Berlin, a date that will be very important for you to remember in the next few days.  Andre Toulon has apparently decided to move out of Paris, although they never really say why.  I guess he got tired of the wine, cheese and mummy attacks.  Although, why you would live in Berlin over six years after the conflicts related to WWII began is anyone's guess.  All of the original puppets are back, plus a new one named Six-Shooter.  Of course, this guy didn't show up in some of the films set in later times, but did in others.  You still haven't reached the really confusing stuff yet!  The movie uses a slew of character actors with decent resumes, including Sarah Douglas, Ian Abercrombie (of Seinfeld fame) and Richard Lynch.  The latter appears to have a thing for Full Moon sequels, as he was also the villain of Trancers II.  A lot of people actually like this movie, so I should probably be nice.  Oh wait- when has that ever stopped me?  Get out your German prostitutes for my review of...
In Berlin, Andre Toulon is running a puppet show that mocks the famous leaders of the day.  Nah, it's just Hitler.  By the way, good call, dumb-ass!  One Dwight Schrute-looking guy in the audience takes notes when he sees the puppets move without strings.  Toulon: people are attracted by this feat, so stop doing it in public!  He stays behind after the show and sees Toulon injecting the dolls with their magic liquid and takes a picture or two.  He reports to his leads (Abercrombie and Lynch) about his findings.  Hey, maybe that will help you with your Evil Dead-style experiments to reanimate dead soldiers.  With only his word and some pictures, the Nazis break in and threaten Toulon for his secrets.  When Toulon's wife runs to grab the serum, she is shot.  That will teach you to touch things that belong to you!  By the way, this event is so important that it only bears mentioning in one other Puppet Master film- the 9th one!  They take Toulon away in a separate car from the other Nazis and leave two of his dolls with him.  WHY?  What sense does that make?!?  He's just going to use them to kill the guards and escape because you...he just escaped.  Now he's pissed off and has a small army of killers at his beck and call!
One of the first things that Toulon does is find the body of his wife, which didn't bleed when she was shot, but has bled since.  He uses the doll he made in her likeness, injects her liquid soul into it (why not?!?) and transforms it into Leech Woman.  How does the leech part work?  Does it make leeches or does he just keep filling it up?  He adds that 'this is the best I can do for you,' which I find a bit questionable.  You could just let her soul live on in Heaven, as opposed to being immortal in the form of a doll that spits up leeches!  Abercrombie, meanwhile, has the formula, but can't make it quite work.  This upsets both him and Lynch's superior, who orders them to do better.  Before that can happen, Toulon sneaks up to a Nazi brothel and lets Six-Shooter in.  His disguise- a jacket and sunglasses.  The doll kills the bemused Nazi, but loses an arm in the process.  Thank you, obvious plot point.
Toulon hides out in a bombed-out building, which is also inhabited by a kid and parent from the first scene.  He helps the kid out, but the dad is convinced that he can sell Toulon out to get his Jewish wife back.  Toulon meets up with Abercrombie, who does a 180% face turn and helps him, only to die in the last installment of 'Deep Blue Sea Moments.'  Naturally, Lynch kills the dad too, but Toulon escapes.  He finds his way back to Lynch, however, and beats him up via his dolls.  They set up an elaborate 'Saw-like' rigging to kill him, which involves hooks, some rope and a halberd.  The man dies, but not before seeing a doll made in his likeness.  Keep an eye out for that continuity aspect to get muddled up too.  Toulon escapes by way of some stock footage of a train station and Lynch's ID.  Yes, nobody in town recognizes the man in the Wanted posters or the fact that he's not the famous Nazi LieutenantThe End.
This movie is...good, but flawed.  I can deal with a lot of the plot quirks because it's a nice, simple story.  Mind you, some of it exists merely for pathos- see the wife and kid apprentice stories.  The villainous acting of Richard Lynch is always good, even if he's more two-dimensional than usual here.  Rolfe does a good job too.  The puppet work is good at times, although some claymation bits are a bit dated.  I guess it's better than mid-90s CG though.  DeCoteau (apparently pronounced Dakota) does a decent job here.  I like that this was not filmed in Romania or Bulgaria.  Of course, they explain that this is only because of issues in those cities.  The Universal back-lot stuff looks good- naturally- but doesn't quite match their stock footage.  Swing and a miss, guys.  As far as telling a good story, this succeeds.  You can question certain choices here and there, but it's easy to recommend to sell anyone on the series.  It's too bad that it gets retconned to hell later.
Next up, we jump ahead to the year 2010...and also jump back in time.  Let the serious confusion begin, readers!  Stay tuned...


  1. I stand behind this one as being the best in the series. Most heart, best storyline, some of the best puppetry. Love it!

  2. Yeah, they were clearly trying here. In spite of being a DeCoteau film, it's pretty good.

    The civil wars in Bulgaria and Romania were the best thing that happened to the series, as they used the Universal back-lot. Did it match their stock footage? Not really. Did it keep them from filming at the same damn castle from the 'Subspecies' films and 'Trancers 4-5?' Yes- thank God.

    Side note: watch the Videozone- you'll learn something!