What the hell happened? The Puppet Master movies were on a roll. How often do you find a series that not only has a sequel that outdoes its predecessor, but the third installment is even better still? But all that momentum came to a dead stop, running into the solid brick wall that is Puppet Master 4.
Review by Crispy
Added: September 15, 2007
The opening credits had just begun when I already had my first complaint. They took the familiar Puppet Master theme, which I absolutely love, and replaced it with some generic, tribal-esque shit. Already on the wrong foot, the movie kicks off in a cave, where some big, skeleton/pumpkin demon is commanding his minions to kill those who are trying to steal their power. He claims it was their power that Toulan stole from them so long ago. He's referring to a group of scientists working on an artificial intelligence project. He silences them by using some form of voodoo to put three of his minion's life essences into nasty looking dolls called Totems. Two of the kills go off without a hitch, but the third becomes a bit of a problem. The third is Rick Meyers (Gordon Currie), something of a super-genius living in the Bodega Bay Inn. He invites his girlfriend, Suzie (Chandra West), over for the night, who unexpectedly brings over two guests. Her friend Lauren (Teresa Hill) and much to Rick's dismay, her boyfriend, Cameron (Jason Adams). See, Cameron and Rick went to school together where Cameron's own genius was constantly overshadowed by Rick's. Couple this bitterness with the fact that he's quite the asshole, and it's obvious why Rick wasn't exactly thrilled to see him. Meanwhile, Lauren has found Blade. Being a psychic channeler, she learns from Blade that somewhere in the house is a case with the other puppets. However, when she finds it, the magnitude of evil coming from it causes her to faint. When she comes to, she finds that Cam and Rick are prying it open, despite her immediate objections. Inside, they find Toulon's legacy. Along with the puppets Pinhead, Tunneler, Six Shooter and Jester, they find the green serum and Toulon's journal. Using the journal, Rick is able to give life to the puppets. Just in time, as the three Totems attack the hotel's occupants. Being the new Puppet Master, the five puppets defend Rick against the demons.
Holy hell, where did this story come from? First of all, let's just look at the obvious plotholes. The puppets are in a case in the attic? Last time we checked, they were on a ride with their new master, fully intent on keeping their murderous streak up. And where the hell did Six Shooter come from? Yes, he was in three, but three was a prequel. Considering he's nowhere to be found in one or two, you can't just throw him in the next continuation and call it a day. Or take out puppets, as Torch was MIA here, despite being on the box cover. And while we're on the subject of the puppets, my God did they ruin Jester. In one, and to a lesser extent two, Jester didn't do a whole lot, just kind of hung out making faces. Still, his role in three was phenomenal, and demonstrated that he has a real cruel streak when the going gets tough. Here, they turned him into a total wuss, all in the grand total of maybe two or three minutes they gave him. They also added a new puppet, Decapitron. Stupid name isn't it? And of course, we have yet another plothole, since the source of his life essence shoots the entire plot of two all to Hell. I swear, I think they were just trying to pretend that one never existed.
Not only are evil demons a stupid idea, but the costumes were horrific. The head demon's looked so cartoony, like something you would pick up at a Party City for forty bucks. I tell you, it wouldn't surprise me in the least if thats where they found the damn thing. Same goes for his minions, complete with their dumb "melting" effect. Cheap seems to be the key word here. In Puppet Master III, there was extensive use of stop motion to animate the puppets. This worked perfectly, since the trademark jerky look of it suited the "living puppet" image well. Here, while there is a few stop motion moments used it's mostly dolls with robotic arms that wave around. Naturally, they don't look alive at all. There is a scene where Blade squares off with one of the Totem, one on one. I am being completely serious when I say that I've seen Rock'em Sock'em Robot bouts that have looked better than that fight. Had that been done with stop motion, it could have been an amazing scene.
When the credits finally started rolling at the end (thankfully using the usual theme music I love so much) I couldn't believe it. These movies were on such a good path, and they just blatantly threw it away. Not even like they tried to do what they had been doing, but it just ended up not as good. No, this movie was a disaster from the word Go. They destroyed the simple beauty of its plot with some dumb shit about evil demons, took a piss all over its own continuity and threw salt in the wound by taking three steps back on the special effects standpoint. It's like Band tried to fuck up his creation on purpose. Let this movie be a lesson to all film makers: If it's not broke, don't fix it. 3.5/10.