Saturday, November 27, 2010

Pull the Strings!: Puppet Master IV- The Demon

When is enough 'enough?'  This is clearly not a question asked by the folks over a Full Moon Studios.  After all, they have made 3 Killjoy films, 4 Demonic Toys films (counting the Vs. movies) and 5 Subspecies films (counting Vampire Diaries).  Of course, the big Kahuna is Puppet Master, which has 9 films from Full Moon and a 10th one made by the Sci-Fi Channel's team.  I'm just over half-way through them now, so let's not sit around with our hands in our pockets.  Puppet Master 4 (aka Puppet Master 4: The Demon) was made on a shoe-string budget, which was aided by it being made in conjunction with Puppet Master 5.  Yes, it joins the elite ranks of Trancers IV, Subspecies II and LoTR: The Two Towers.  Note to 'Ringers:' hacks can do Peter Jackson's ideas too (and before him)!  This film ignores the cliffhanger/twist endings of both Puppet Master and Puppet Master 2, as well as merely referencing Part 3 (since that was a prequel).  We get a new lead, but Toulon actor Guy Rolfe manages to show up too.  How does a doubly-dead guy appear?  Well, if you don't know, prepare to laugh your asses off when you find out.  All of the dolls are back and joined by a new one: Decapitron.  Sorry, Full Moon- you won't ever live up to that kick-ass name!  Get out your $1,000,000 Laser Tag gloves for my review of...
The film begins in another dimension where a giant puppet talks to a bunch of guys in skull masks.  Context?  Hello?  Hello?  This is apparently the evil creature that the secret of the puppets came from.  Mind you, it was not made clear in Puppet Master 3 (especially with Toulon's contradictory statement about it's source) and it was not clear until Retro Puppet Master- a movie made about five years after this one.  Anyhow, he's mad at Toulon for stealing it, so he's going to get revenge on...this random guy.  Why him?  Because he's the caretaker for the famous hotel that was the setting for the first two films.  How is that still open?  It was the scene of numerous murders in the first film and was the subject of a government study in the second.  Before I have time to ask more questions, I have to note that the villain's tiny monsters kill a pair of scientists.  This serves no purpose until Puppet Master 5, so let's move on.  Apparently, our hero is assigned to be the hotel's caretaker in the Summer.  The guy is a super-genius who is trying to crack the secret of artificial intelligence and how to put it into robots.  Just so you know who to blame when Skynet takes over the world, it's his fault!  He tests this by playing Laser Tag with his Battle Bot rejects.  Full Moon plots- grounded in reality!  He has some friends over, as well as his girlfriend.  Nice of that abandoned hotel to give him a pointless job and let him invite strangers in too!  The pair are boyfriend and girlfriend, despite having no chemistry.  Oh yeah, the girlfriend is a psychic and senses an omen.  I can too- this movie has nearly an hour left!
Our two macho guys discover a chest in the basement that houses Toulon's dolls.  It sure was nice of the puppets to put themselves back in the chest and lock it from the outside, huh?  The guys break it open against the psychic girl's wishes and find Toulon's passport, but eventually learn that he wasn't really a Nazi.  Nice of you to simultaneously assume that we saw Puppet Master 3 and also spoil the ending in one fell swoop!  When the group splits up, the psychic girl decides to play with a Ouija Board.  Yes, they apparently still made those in 1994.  The evil monster puppet uses this as a gateway to bring his stop-motion creations into our dimension.  Side note: why does the guy have doll henchmen sent to Earth when he has human-size henchmen in the other world?  I'm sure that there is a reason, but do you really think that I want to know it?  The stop-motion killers convince the couple to leave, but the guy gets killed in the car.  Naturally, the girlfriend runs back inside...for safety.  Oh, Jerk Boyfriend- how I'll miss you.  You'll get your moment at the end of the review, so don't worry.  When the monsters go after our heroes, the dolls intercede.  The things already proved that they can play Laser Tag, so they must be great at actual combat.  Side note: Six-Shooter is in this chest, but wasn't in it for Puppet Master or Puppet Master 2.  Huh?  A pair of the dolls take out one of the tiny demons, sending a CG lightning bolt into the other dimension and killing one of the servants.  With a body count of 3, I'm sure terrified.
Despite winning their battles so far, the dolls feel the need to bring out another experimental doll from a different chest.  Of course, Toulon stashed into a hiding place other than the one where he put his original dolls, the Ninja doll from Axis of Evil, Six-Shooter and the one where he apparently stashed Torch.  For a guy who was caught off-guard by the Nazis, he sure did plan ahead!  This doll is Decapitron, whose gimmick is that he has multiple heads.  One of them is plastic and gray, which allows him to be a vessel for Toulon's spirit.  Guy Rolfe starred in Ivanhoe (the movie- not the shitty Showtime show based on it) and he's reduced to being a cameo as a head CG-ed onto a doll!  Seriously, who thought of this?  He explains that the second head is the most powerful, but can only be activated by ripping off moments from James Whale's Frankenstein.  It's basically a TV with small Tesla coils on the side and machine guns on the front- not that he ever seems to use the latter.  With only one villainous doll left- after another was taken out by Blade and Pinhead- the new puppet shoots lighting from it's head and kills it.  The monster is pissed, Rolfe has a second, silly cameo and our hero hints that his battle is just beginning.  Don't worry- it will end abruptly after Puppet Master 5. The End.
This trying too hard.  The plot is alright, but requires you to accept things that you shouldn't.  The dolls' origin continues to change, now introducing the magical element into the film proper.  How did the dolls get re-locked in their chest?  I should also add that our heroes mention that the lock appears to be 'fifty years old.'  Why reference the third film's plot set-up if you're just going to piss all over the first and second films?  I can only figure that Charles Band has really bad long-term memory.  He only seems to remember the last film in any series and just makes new shit up.  Case in point: the dolls are inject with fluid through their stomachs, as opposed to the pre-set holes in the necks from the last three films!  I know it's a minor point, but these things stand out in a series that pretends to be in order.  I can excuse the Blind Dead quadrilogy for stuff like this, since the films never actually sync up- nor do they pretend to.  This film is all about 'the legacy of Andre Toulon,' but can't get it right!  He's French (with no accent), then he's a brunette with a Hungarian accent, followed by French with a Spanish accent and finally the rich guy from Tales from The Darkside: The Movie.  Before you think that I do nothing but bitch, I can say that the stop-motion looks good here.  Honestly though, it looked better in 2 and 3.  Keep an eye out for where a human hand subs for Pinhead's in a close-up shot too.  If you like the series, you can do worse.  Of course, the mediocrity of 2 and the not-crappy nature' of 3 make them better choices.  This is a cash-in, simple as that.  Take it away, out-of-context shot of the boyfriend (see- I told you so)!
Next up, we get the second part of the story.  I sure hope it's almost exactly the same as what I just watched!  Stay tuned...

1 comment:

  1. This is my second favorite after #3, it is just stupid puppet fun, nothing more. You have to love the stupid demon puppet!