August 16, 2018 Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (Movie Review)
Back in the 1980s, the Horror film franchise was born. From A Nightmare on Elm Streets’ Freddy Krueger, Friday the 13th’s Jason Voorhees, Hellraiser’s Pinhead, Halloween’s Michael Myers, and Child’s Play’s Chucky, there was no shortage of villainous heroes returning for more mayhem time after time. Then, in 1989, a little film entitled Puppet Master arrived on the scene, becoming a hit on the direct-to-video market. A new entry into the the killer-doll subgenre of Horror, Puppet Master would go on to spawn eleven sequels, including the 2004 non-canon film Puppet Master vs Demonic Toys. Ultimately launching Full Moon Features production and distribution company, headed by original Puppet Master creator Charles Band, the series has stood strong for nearly three decades.
Now, on Friday, August 17, 2018, a new entry into the Puppet Master’s world arrives with the latest film Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich. Technically the twelfth overall film in the franchise, it is very well possibly the average viewer has lost track of timelines, characters, and plots. That in mind, it is important to point out that this new flick is not a sequel to 2017’s Puppet Master: Axis Termination. Written by S. Craig Zahler (Bone Tomahawk 2015, Brawl in Cell Block 99 2017) and co-directed by Sonny Laguna (Wither 2012, Animalistic 2015) and Tommy Wiklund (Wither 2012, Animalistic, Madness 2015), Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich is more of a reboot to the franchise. Featuring executive production from Charles Band himself, the big question is, how does the attempt at a new Puppet Master hold up to those who came before?
Well, the good thing about Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich, while having knowledge of the legacy of the original story and characters would be ideal, you really could go into this film with little to no previous knowledge. Even if you just are familiar with Puppet Master by name or by the puppets often displayed on promotional posters, it would be enough to step into Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich and enjoy it.
Giving the audience a bit of a backstory as a tablesetter, Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich starts back in 1989 where an old puppeteer André Toulon (Udo Kier: Mark of the Devil 1970, Blade 1998) enters a bar briefly for an encounter with two women. Inevitably they are killed by one of his vicious little puppets, and thereafter it is shown Toulon himself is taken out in his mansion. Fast forward to present day, the story picks up following a comic book artist named Edgar (Thomas Lennon: Reno 911! series, 17 Again 2009), who is down on his luck and about to crash at his parents for a bit. In the process he explores his deceased brother’s room, discovering a evil looking puppet in a box. Looking to make some quick money, he decides to sell the doll at an auction to be held at a convention celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the infamous Toulon Murders. Will it be a smooth transaction or will a new murder spree ensue?
A simple enough plot to follow, Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich does offer an entertaining story for its 90 minute running time. There is just enough backstory to intrigue and some new elements interjected that also compel. For one, there is the tour of André Toulon’s mansion, carefully outlined by former police officer turned security guard/guide Carol Doreski (Barbara Crampton: Re-Animator 1985, From Beyond 1986). Then, from there, the pace is well-executed as the action kicks into with those others who came out to the convention with their puppets for sale, each rapidly being snuffed out.
In addition to Edgar, acting as the focal character, there is his reacquaintance with neighbor turned love interest named Ashley (Jenny Pellicer: State of Affairs series, Cocaine Godmother 2017) and his elitist comic book pal Markowitz (Nelson Franklin: The Office series, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World 2010) joining him along to the convention. Both offering something different to the story, their characters are strong and you will find yourself hoping the trio find some way to survive the reign of puppet terror. Not to be overlooked, other characters such as Detective Brown (Michael Paré: Eddie and the Cruisers 1983, Streets of Fire 1984), who is on the mysterious case of active murders, is a justifiably strong supporting element in the film.
Overall, Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich is a fun Horror film that successfully inspires new interest in a long established franchise. As mentioned, acting as a reboot more than a sequel, there is still much to be resolved in the world of Edgar, leaning itself to the very strong possibility of sequels.
Those that are fans of the original film or the plethora of others that followed will love Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich. Come for the history of the little Horror franchise that could and stay for a refreshing new look into the future of Puppet Master! That is why CrypticRock gives Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich 4 out of 5 stars.