The warning signs are there for all to see with Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich. The fact the bible of gore Fangoria Magazine is involved with the production of the latest instalment in the long running franchise should be enough to tell you that taste and subtly are not high on the agenda. Add to this that the story revolves around a group of puppets who’s creator was a Nazi supporter, and you can see where its (sick) black humour is coming from.
There’s little to say about the film in the way of the plot which revolves around a convention that is meeting to celebrate the murders committed by infamous Nazi killer Andre Toulon (Udo Kier) and his murderous animated puppets. Which is of course really just a means to connect one inventively gruesome death with the next. Though related to the previous outings in the series through it characters and inspiration, there is no need to have seen any of the other films as the background to the franchise is alluded to and explained here several times.
Looking, if you can, beyond its offensive elements (Jewish and gay people appear to be the puppet’s prime targets) Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich achieves some laughs in an ‘I can’t believe they’re actually doing that’ way: a pregnant woman gets a DIY cesarean, whilst another victim’s head ends up down the toilet which probably sums up the level of the humour.
Once they start the numerous deaths come thick and fast, and are surprisingly well executed, leaving little to the imagination shown as they are in full blooded glory. Also the fact virtually none of the unpleasant characters, which includes most of its cast, survive is one of the film’s few saving graces.
It would be nice to say there was some deeper message behind the film – a witty take on Nazism where the bad guys got their comeuppance, and justice wins out. Unfortunately that’s not the case and, without wanting to spoil it, let’s just say that good does not necessarily come out on top. One would hope that in today’s cinema even horror fans would enjoy a little more sophistication with their gore. Not so if this film is anything to go by, and with this outing — which its makers claim they are hoping to reinvent the series with — it seems Andre Toulon and his band of little monsters are still stuck firmly in the past.
Directors: Sonny Laguna, Tommy Wiklund
Writer: S. Craig Zahler, (based on characters created by Charles Band & Kenneth J. Hall)
Stars: Thomas Lennon, Michael Paré, Charlyne Yi, Udo Kier, Barbara Crampton, Nelson Franklin, Jenny Pellicer, Matthias Hues, Tina Parker, Kennedy Summers, Betsy Holt, Victoria Hande
Runtime: 90 mins