>> In 1989, the world was blessed with the first of the Puppet Master horror film franchise. What is Puppet Master? Glad you asked. Puppet Master is a series of films where human-like puppets are animated by some sort of exotic spell. Each puppet is built with its own unique device that can be used for good or result in a gruesome bloodbath. Throughout the years the Puppet Master franchise has delivered some of the most imaginative and terrifying puppets you can think of—including Leech Woman, a small puppet who purges leeches from her mouth to suck the blood from her victims. Not only are the puppets witty and strange, but the deaths in this franchise are probably some of the most amusing murders you will see in any horror film. When I saw that the thirteenth installment of the franchise was about to release this August, I thought to myself: how can I pass up the opportunity to write about one of the most perplexing, nasty, but yet amusing franchises? I couldn’t, and now here we are—basking together in some bloody, campy horror entertainment.
Nearly 30 years after the original Puppet Master released, the thirteenth installment—Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich—opened in LA Theatres and digital download on August 17th. This installment is directed by Sonny Laguna and Tommy Wiklund—both new in this franchise. It’s written by S. Craig Zahler who is known for his work on Bone Tomahawk (a film that will make you simultaneously vomit and cry). Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich takes place in an alternate reality from the previous films, following recently divorced Edgar (Thomas Lennon), and the chaotic bloodbath of events that ensue at a convention to auction off several Nazi puppets.
Stating the major errors of this film is like saying that rain is wet—we all know this film isn’t striving for critical acclaim or award distinction. This film is made solely for the entertainment purposes of cult horror fans, and it doesn’t disappoint if you want to watch a decent bloodsoaked horror. The film is filled with murderous Nazi hate crimes that only lunatic sadist like Zahler could imagine. It’s campy, brimming with awful jokes, and of course awful dialogue. However, with a writer like Zahler, it’s clear that the dialogue and story were written with the intention to be humorously bad. This, unfortunately, causes the film to lose some credibility. There’s a real authenticity to the eccentric writers and directors who take unyielding pride in their unknowingly poor films, even refusing to acknowledge their faults—for example, Tommy Wiseau and Claudio Fragasso.
I read a lot of opinions before writing this review; many stating the blatant failures of the film’s attempts at criticizing Trump's America through hate crimes performed by Nazi puppets. Honestly, it seems any modern film that tackles murder and Nazis will be criticized for commenting on Trump’s America, even if it’s not the film's intention. I applaud the films possible attempts, especially because it’s a horror movie about puppets. Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich is an entertaining watch for those that enjoy a blood-soaked, stomach-turning cult horror film. Of course, you may find more appreciation for it if you take a week to watch all twelve prior films. Will this film go down as a cult classic horror hit? Probably not, but it undoubtedly compliments the strangely entertaining franchise it belongs to. 4/10 <<