Tuesday, October 15, 2013

No Strings Attached

In my efforts to see as many horror franchises as possible, I have taken to buying discount movie bundles at WalMart.

Don't judge me.

I realize that this is both a waste of money and very stupid. I don't really care. It is doing this that allowed me to get the majority of the Halloween and Children of the Corn movies. I loved Halloween, and have yet to watch CotC. But, really, you can't go wrong with either of those series.

Anyhow, one such purchase was the Puppet Master series. One box had 9 movies in it. That left one direct sequel and one crossover. Which led to another box with the movies that were directly tied to that crossover and another crossover. Which led to me getting the remaining movie in one of those series. Which led me to more movies that tied in. These movies also had more ties to other movies. By the time I had unraveled this knot, I had a list the was nearly the entire Full Moon catalog. I would be crazy to try to buy and review all of these movies.

So, of course, I plan on doing just that. However, I will not be doing it all at once. I am going to break this list up into a three parts. This entry will cover just the Puppet Master, Demonic Toys, and Dollman movies.

Puppet Master: A fun start to the series. We start with a puppet maker finishing off a new creation at some hotel in California in 1939. Which looks nothing like California, but whatever. A couple Nazis show up, and the guy hides his puppets and kills himself. Then we jump forward to the present...1989. Man, does this movie have some crappy hair and clothing. Seriously, the hero of the picture has the most glorious mane of mullet I have seen in ages. Regardless, the actual plot is some psychics are called to the old hotel by a buddy of theirs who was obsessed with the puppets. They all show up, find out the buddy is dead and left a wife nobody knew about as his widow. Then the puppets start killing everyone. The whole thing turns out to be some plot by the dead friend to live forever. I will be honest, I had to go look up the plot on Wikipedia to remember why he wanted to kill them all. In the end,the puppets rebel and kill the dude. The End. Puppets appearing: Pinhead, Blade, Tunneler, Jester, Leech Woman.

Puppet Master 2: His Unholy Creation: We start this movie with the puppets bringing their creator back to life with a serum. This is the first inconsistency with the movies, since in the opening of the original it is implied that the way they are brought to life is by way of a magical ritual. The other main continuity error is the tombstone lists the death of Toulon as being in 1941, which is a couple years after the first film showed it happening. The plot here is that the remaining psychic from the first movie has gone insane, and the government has sent in a paranormal investigative squad to find out what happened. In addition, the resurrection of Toulon brings with it the revelation that they puppets need pieces of brain to make the formula that keeps them going. Oh, and one of the investigators may be the reincarnation of Toulon's wife. We do get an interesting flashback to Toulon and Elsa in Egypt where we see how he learned to bring his puppets to life. As with the first movie, things do not go well for most of the people present and the villain gets some good old fashioned puppet vengeance. This is the last movie where the puppets are not the heroes of the movie, which I feel is kind of strange. Puppets appearing: Pinhead, Blade, Tunneler, Jester, Leech Woman, Torch.

Puppet Master 3: Toulon's Revenge: Here we jump back in time to WWII to see how it all started. There is a Nazi reanimation plot that ties in with the formula. Basically, they Nazis want to find a way to bring their dead soldiers back to life to keep fighting, and they think the formula Toulon uses will help do just that. Continuing with the inconsistencies is the fact that the movie takes place in 1941 (previously established as a time well after Toulon was both dead and in America). Another continuity error is the presence of Jester, who was apparently created right before Toulon's death and now shows up well before it. Oh, and we also have the introduction of the idea that the puppets contain the souls of people...so no need for brain pieces now or something. This is still kind of a fun story, as it explains why a toymaker/puppeteer would have made such violent creations. In the movie, when the Nazis come to take the formula from him, they inadvertently kill his wife. So, the rest of the violence is all an act of vengeance and love. We also get the creation of Blade, and a great explanation for why someone who was on the run from the Nazis would have a puppet that looked like a member of the SS. Aside from the continuity errors and the fact that the kid in this is a freaking moron, this was a lot of fun. Puppets appearing: Pinhead, Blade, Tunneler, Jester, Leech Woman, Sixshooter.

Puppet Master 4: The Demon: Hey, look, more messing with continuity. Now, apparently, Toulon stole his life giving formula from some underworld god names Sutekh. Said god is pissed about this and chooses now to get his revenge. You know, decades after Toulon has died, been resurrected, and died again. If this hos how well Sutekh does at getting revenge, then it is no wonder he lost the secret of giving life to begin with. Anyhow, this plan for revenge is in the form of strange totem dolls that come to life to kill some computer programers. Because they have nearly created artificial intelligence. Which is totally the same as living puppets, I guess. OK, so this is a really bad movie with a very lame attempt at a plot. At least the psychic girl in it is hot. We also have Toulon's spirit reincarnated in the body of a puppet that can remove its head to place a better head on it. Which made me wonder why it didn't just keep the badass weapon head on and skip the creepy morphing into a dead guy's face head. The movie ends with a passing of the torch moment where the surviving computer guy is named the new puppet master. Puppets appearing: Pinhead, Blade, Tunneler, Jester, Sixshooter, Decapitron.

Puppet Master 5: The Final Chapter: Taking place immediately after the previous film, this movie is actually better than the one it is a sequel to. The movie starts with our new puppet master in jail for murder of his colleagues, the psychic in a coma after having her soul partially sucked by a totem, and Sutekh ready to come to earth himself to finish the job he started last time. Along for the ride are a new group of people who want to find the puppets to get the secret of their animation for corporate greed. Or something. All I really know is a lot of people die to puppets, Sutekh is defeated, psychic hottie comes out of her coma, and the movie ends ready to lead into a re-invigoration of the franchise. Puppets appearing: Pinhead, Blade, Tunneler, Jester, Sixshooter, Decapitron, Torch.

Puppet Master 6: Curse of the Puppet Master: Of course. Just as we are given an ending that would allow for a new path to the series, it is abandoned for something else. As usual, there is a continuity error. Leech Woman, who was destroyed way back in #2, is somehow back and as good as new. We also have no sign of our new puppet master at all. Instead, the puppets have somehow been acquired by a non-traveling freakshow or something. This was a strange movie, since it is pretty obvious what the end will be but the villain is kind of not very villainous. Like, I know what he is doing is wrong, and I know he deserves what he gets. It just seems like he is not evil so much as curious. Also, the movie ends so suddenly it feels like there is no resolution. All of the plot threads do get resolved, so there is nothing left to say, but is still feels very quick to end. Puppets appearing: Pinhead, Blade, Tunneler, Jester, Leech Woman, Tank, Sixshooter.

Puppet Master 7: Retro Puppet Master: ARG! Why can't they keep the timeline and continuity of this series straight. Now we have a movie showing Toulon on the run, not in America, in 1944. There is no sign of the kid he had with him when he fled Germany at the end of #3. Not even a mention of the kid at all. It is very frustrating seeing no real consistency in these movies. Anyhow, the 1944 thing is a framing device so Toulon can tell his puppets about how he learned the process of bringing them to life. It is 1902, some sorcerer has stolen the secret from Sutekh (an attempt to tie #4 and 5 to the main story). The sorcerer flees to France where he encounters Elsa and Toulon, who have just met and are starting their relationship. Sutekh reanimates some mummies who hunt down the sorcerer and end up killing some people. So Toulon uses the secret to bring those people back in the bodies of his puppets and kills the mummies. Yeah. It's as dumb as it sounds. This also contradicts the previous films where it is show that Toulon learned the secret in Egypt when he is much older and married. Puppets appearing: Retro Blade, Retro Pinhead, Drill Sergeant, Retro Six-Shooter, Doctor Death, Cyclops.

Puppet Master 8: The Legacy: Here;s the movie that I was waiting for. Something to tied up the strange continuity errors and plot holes into one coherent story. By using pretty much nothing but archival footage from the previous films, we are told the story of the series. We see how Toulon had the secret, but supplemented it with the formula. We learn how he left the German kid somewhere safe while he ran. We find out the new puppet master was killed by a rogue agent for the secret. There is still some timeline inconsistency, but at this point I am willing to accept that since the rest was at least half-assed explained away. Too bad the movie is 99% recycled footage since I was marathoning these so I got bored watching this one. Puppets appearing: Pinhead, Blade, archival footage of various.

Puppet Master 9: Axis of Evil: And we are back to the 1939 timeline. No explanation for why or how they 1940's stuff could have happened. I will just move on and try not to care. Here a kid with a gimp leg but master carpentry skills sees Toulon's death and finds the puppets. He goes home, only to encounter the very SS agents who he saw at the hotel. Using the puppets he tries to prevent a Nazi plot to blow up a munitions factory. While the plot may be a little lacking, this was actually a fun movie. I have little to say about it, however, since my this point the budgets for the movies has gotten so low as to be pretty laughable. Puppets appearing: Blade, Pinhead, Leech Woman, Jester, Tunneler, Ninja.

Puppet Master X: Axis Rising: Just like with #4 and 5, this movie takes place immediately after the end of the last one. Except the cast is all different, including the look of some of the puppets. I can understand the difficulty in keeping a cast the same for movies, but they could have at least tried to find people who looked similar to the cast from before. They also could have pretended to pay attention to what the house the main character lived in looked like. Or gotten someone who can fake a German accent so that it doesn't sound British. Really, the only thing about this movie that was any good was that the bad actress who couldn't fake German is pretty attractive, and the Nazi puppets are kind of nifty. Overall, not good at all. Puppets appearing: Blade, Pinhead, Leech Woman, Jester, Tunneler, Six Shooter, Blitzkrieg, Bombshell, Weremacht, Kamikaze.

Demonic Toys: Holy crap, this is a batshit insane movie. We start out with some sort of strange dream of kids playing a card game. The game itself seems to make no sense. They just flip cards, say war, and claim they have won. After the dream ends, there's a scene of uncomfortable dialogue and bad acting followed by more bad acting. Really, the whole movie is just full of bad acting. Long story short, an illegal weapon sale/police bust goes bad and a few dudes die. The death of one prompts the heroine to do her protagonist thing, while the other death brings a bunch of toys to live via demonic means. No explanation why. Meanwhile, the night security guard calls for a delivery of chicken. The surviving cop and crook meet up, get trapped, get saved by the security guard and delivery guy, and shit happens. Really, for the most part the movie is just an excuse to get the cop (who is pregnant) into the same place as a demon child so we can learn about his plot to steal her baby's body so he can be reborn. Also, there's killer toys. Kind of meh, really. Toys appearing: Baby Oopsie Daisy, Jack Attack, Grizzly Teddy, Mr. Static.

Demonic Toys 2: Personal Demons: Holy crap, a Full Moon movie that isn't complete crap. I know, I know...I enjoyed some of the Puppet Master movies. I also know that i have not stated it yet, but there are a handful of movies these guys have put out that I really liked. But, seriously, this is a production house that is know for making crappy cheap movies by the truckload. While this entry in the series is far from great, it is actually not too bad. We have a scene of gloved hands taking the remains of two the toys from the last movie and fixing them. Then we find ourselves in Italy where a university student and an ancient toy expert are waiting for a buyer to show up to purchase an old toy that was uncovered in the basement of a building. The buyer shows up, with a crate containing the rebuilt evil toys, and everyone goes in to look at the new doll. There is a secondary plot of the buyer's hot wife cheating on him and wanting to replace the doll with a replica so she can sell the original and get away from him. The problem with this is the doll turns out to be possessed by a demon. The demon doll awakens the other two toys and they all start killing people. On top of this, a psychic midget is also around, and she becomes possessed by the spirit of the woman who originally owned the doll. In the end, pretty much everyone dies, the evil spirits are exorcised, and the toys are defeated. There were only a few negatives I have regarding this movie. First of all, they toys are done really cheap. Just like the later Puppet Master movies, they kind of skimped on the effects for the dolls and they looked less impressive than in the much older movies. Second, they rely on CG too much, and don't even spring for decent graphics at that. I think there were maybe three shots of actual practical stage blood to the numerous computer sprays. Pretty sad. Finally, the plot of the movie has nothing to do with the toys themselves. they are just shoehorned in to provide the necessary violence while the demon plot plays out. Still, for a 2010 Full Moon movie, not bad at all. Toys appearing: Baby Oopsie Daisy (called Baby Whoopsie here), Jack Attack, Divoletto.

Dollman: Ugh. This is also a bad movie. Really bad. Basically, bad ass alien cop ends stand off in a way the mayor doesn't like. In return, the cop is framed for killing innocents, which is never mentioned or important at all later on. He is kidnapped by the cronies of an old rival (who is only a floating head at this point). Stuff happens, the cop and head end up on earth where they are about a foot tall. Cop encounters a woman trying to clean up her neighborhood and the bad guy head thing finds a bunch of drug dealing gang members to work for him. More stuff, bad guys lose. Only thing anywhere near good in this is the over the top gun the cop uses. On his planet, it is enough to blow a dude to pieces with one shot. So, of course, on earth it is enough to hurt or kill a full sized human even though it is action figure sized.

Dollman v.s Demonic Toys: This is what happens when you start to run out of original ideas. The movie itself is a direct sequel the original Demonic Toys, Dollman, and also a movie called Bad Channels (which is later on the list of reviews). Diminutive alien cop Brick Bardo leaves the people from his movie to get a girlfriend, who is an equally small woman that was shrunk in a previous movie. Meanwhile, our pregnant cop from the Demonic Toys stuff is still on the lookout for more demons stuff. She is basically called crazy, suspended from the force, and finds Brick and his new girl to get help killing the toys. Cop dies, toys die, and I forget the ending. Pretty forgettable movie, except that Nurse Ginger is absolutely gorgeous. Dolls appearing: Baby Oopsie Daisy, Jack Attack, Mr Static, Zombietoid.

Puppet Master vs. Demonic Toys: What happens when you lose the rights to your movies, but not the character designs? This movie. What a strange movie it is too. In many ways, it is just like the actual Full Moon movies. But, in others, it is so much better. The plot barely has any connection to the rest of the series. As in, the only real connection is the name Toulon and the existence of the puppets and toys. The crazy thing is how bad the puppets and dolls look, but good their animation is. The effects are better than most of the other movies in either series, but the look of everything is worse. It is hard to really describe. Anyhow, I have very little to say about this movie. It was about as bad as any of these have been, with the added "benefit" of being made for cable television. Dolls/Puppets appearing: Baby Oopsie Daisy, Jack Attack, Grizzly Teddy, Blade, Six-Shooter, Pinhead, Jester, "Upgraded" versions of the puppets.

 Overall, I like the concept of the Puppet Master movies. Killer toys kind of appeal to me. The first movie in each of the series here is pretty interesting, with the quality going quickly down hill with each sequel. Demonic Toys likewise has an interesting idea, but it kind of fails to deliver in a way I wanted it to. Dollman is better left forgotten. The main thing I am taking away from these is how bad Full Moon movies are. Some are good-bad, like the first few Puppet Masters and the original Demonic Toys. Most are just bad-bad. I am not wondering if it is really worth my time, money, and sanity to try to watch the rest of the movies for this epic undertaking. I probably will, but it may take me a lot longer than originally planned.

1 comment:

Shawn Hartnell said...

I have the exact set you're talking about. It was like a magical moment when I found it. I was just walking along and out of nowhere the horror movie gods blessed me with all the Puppet Master movies in a single, small case and it only cost $8.