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Curse Of The Puppet Master (1998)

DVD Cover (Echo Bridge Entertainment)
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4.1
 / 10
6 votes
Movie Connections:
Puppet Master
> Puppet Master (1989)
> Puppet Master II (1991)
> Puppet Master III:... (1991)
> Puppet Master 4 (1993)
> Puppet Master 5: The Final... (1994)
> Curse Of The Puppet Master (1998)
> Retro Puppet Master (1999)
> Puppet Master: The Legacy (2003)
Genres:
Horror, Supernatural Horror
Director:
David DeCoteau David DeCoteau
Starring:
George Peck George Peck
Emily Harrison Emily Harrison
Josh Green Josh Green
Michael Guerin Michael Guerin
Michael Sollenberger Michael Sollenberger
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Review by 385
Added: September 21, 2007
So after the Sutek shenanigans of the last two Puppet Masters, our buddies over at Full Moon have decided to try a different story line. After all, the first three were remarkable, so even though they kind of slumped with those two, it should be no problem going back to pick up the slack, right? Yeah, they should have just quit while they were ahead.

Curse of the Puppet Master has not only started a new story, but it's elected to start over almost from square one. This go around, we're centered on Dr. McGrew, a man who runs a wax museum, specializing in weird or freaky attractions. Naturally, the trunk of living puppets he buys is the perfect addition. Said puppets also get his creative juices flowing and he becomes obsessed with recreating Toulon's work. His daughter, Jane, is home from college and helps him run the show, which gives him more time to work on his experiments. The problem he finds is within the puppet itself. It has to be perfect for the soul to be able to live in the toy, so McGrew hires the dimwitted Robert to build the new puppet after he finds the man has an amazing aptitude for wood carving. Not only is Robert to build the new puppet, but he's providing the main ingredient as well.

Yeah I know what you're thinking. "Damn it, man! What gives with the spoilers?!" Well, I really didn't because there is never any question what his plan is. The first scene of the movie is McGrew burning his previous failure, and just in case you're still too dense to get it, the fact will get bludgeoned into your head numerous times with all the "subtle" hints they used. Well, the three hints that they use over and over. And this one loves repetition. There are two or three scenes, about three minutes apiece, of nothing but Robert carving a piece of wood with the Puppet Master theme playing. Now, it's been well documented how much I love that song, but Jesus even I was getting tired of it.

The wonderful casting here is no help either. Josh Green plays Robert, which was a nice little demonstration of being monotonous as hell. Admittedly, that was mostly the script, but he could have stepped it up a little bit. On the other side of the table, Jane McGrew was portrayed by Emily Harris. While she's pretty damned nice to look at, her acting skills are pretty much useless. Now, to be fair, this was early in her career so maybe she's gotten better; but considering her resume is mostly guest spots on soap operas, I'm guessing not. A few nudity scenes would have been appreciated as well, but no dice. Just as well, it still wouldn't have saved this sinking ship. The only redeeming performance here was George Peck, but he lost it too near the end of the movie. It's a shame too, since this is the first Puppet Master to actually have bad acting. Sure, no one was winning any awards with their performances in the previous movies, but they were all passable. But hey, at least we have killer puppets right?

Said killer puppets were yet another disappointment. First off, director David DeCoteau makes extensive use of stock footage from the first movies to ease the pressure on the budget. The editing is horrendous. Nothing syncs here. Backgrounds are different, direction of looks and attacks are wrong and once again, Jester got screwed in the deal. For whatever reason, they remade the Jester doll. The colors of his outfit are different and he has a completely different hat. Instead of the bells hanging well below his shoulders, they now hang to about ear level; and it's now blue instead of purple. So when DeCoteau decides to just throw in scenes of the original Jester to mix and match with the new one, it really doesn't work. And of course, the technical aspects behind them have taken yet another step down. We now have puppets that have barely any mobility at all. When they want to show a puppet walking it's like a kid playing with a toy, bouncing up and down as it moves forward. I wouldn't be surprised in the least if the camera panned out a little more you'd find it was just someone holding the toy in his hand around the ankles. Don't get me wrong, I know special effects aren't cheap, but do we really have to stoop to this level? But looking on the bright side, they got rid of Decapitron. Plus, while they only got three kills, they were nicely done and shouldn't disappoint the gorehounds. Especially that first one by Blade and Tunneler, even though it's a seventy minute wait just to get to it.

There are a lot of gripes here that are just too major for me not to bring up, but most of them happen in the last twenty or so minutes of the film. If anyone actually plans to watch this, the rest of this paragraph is extremely spoiler heavy so go ahead and skip to the end. Point of no return here. We good? Ok. First off, I'd like to welcome the miraculous resurrection of Leech Woman. Despite being killed off in Puppet Master II, she shows up here. How? I really don't know. Hell, I can't even tell you the "why." She isn't used at all. Throughout the entire running time she doesn't so much as think about spitting out a leech. She literally doesn't accomplish anything besides fucking with both the continuity of the series and my OCD. Plus, Old McGrew here hasn't copied Toulon's plan exactly. The days of syringes and the green stuff are over, now we have Josh Green strapped to a table, spread eagle, in his underwear (the homoeroticism that runs through this film is astounding) when a ray shoots him, sucks his soul out and puts it in the dollar store robot he built. Yeah, the whole movie Robert is working on a humanoid wooden puppet, yet the final product looks like a busted up Johnny5. This scene alone dropped my score by at least 2 points. And after we're treated to the puppets-turn-on-their-master-for-no-reason-whatsoever ending again, Robert shoots him with lightning. Credits roll with McGrew writhing in pain. Now to be honest, I LOVE endings with no real resolution like that. For example, I always thought Rosemary's Baby should end with the labor scene. But you have to be very careful with those endings; they're not really that easy to do. And David DeCoteau apparently wasn't up to the challenge.

So at the end of the day, the franchise has sunk to a whole new low. This movie was so bad it actually makes me wish they had stuck to the Sutek storyline. Incidentally, we go back to that plot in the next sequel (or prequel anyway), Retro Puppet Master. Lucky me. As far as Curse of the Puppet Master is concerned, don't pay any attention to this snoozefest, although that one kill might be worth hunting down. 2/10
Recommended Movies
Retro Puppet Master Puppet Master III: Toulon's Revenge Puppet Master: The Legacy Puppet Master II Puppet Master 4 Puppet Master 5: The Final Chapter Puppet Master Stitches
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