Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich follows a down-and-out comic book store owner (Thomas Lennon), his girlfriend (Jenny Pellicer), and his best friend (Nelson Franklin), as they attend a convention centered around the history and lore of the Nazi puppets. Soon they are in a fight for survival, as dozens of the evil puppets begin killing the attendees.
Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich Review
As is the case with many franchises birthed in the 80's and early 90's, the subsequent films have generally suffered the fate of most low-budget sequels. More often than not, the franchises even began to satire their own predecessors. Puppet Master is no exception, long ago giving up any inkling of taking itself seriously. And with a plot about little killer puppets controlled by a seemingly undead Nazi, who can blame anyone for failing to keep up the act with any level of sincerity?
This latest entry goes the route of the most recent Leprechaun sequel in becoming entirely self-aware. With a cast featuring actors generally known for their comedic roles, it's pretty clear from the beginning that virtually nothing will be taken seriously. Thankfully, this always-admittedly odd horror concept bodes well for this comedic take and the little puppets eat it up right along with the audience.
I have to say that I was rather entertained by this romp because it took the only decent element of the previous films (the various puppet designs and their kills) and combined it with dark comedy to produce a fun, if horribly campy, horror movie. It's not a cult classic like the original, but I'd sooner watch a sequel in this style again that another that tries to keep the magic of the original alive.
I was a huge fan of the first Puppet Master films when I was younger, but they haven't aged well. Even most sequels don't age too well before I'm even done watching them. Yet, this one found a fun little niche that I couldn't respect, but I could enjoy.
It verges on guilty pleasure, if a third of our beloved genre couldn't fall into that category already. It's important to go into the film with a level of understanding that the production value isn't great and that the writing and directing are regularly inconsistent and poor. But you get a lot of fun, unique kills from a plethora of puppet designs.
One such puppet design was the bane of the film. Where the movie relied heavily on practical effects (however weak they may be at times), it decided to introduce a puppet that operates like a drone. Like, literally a drone, with a bottom half that looks like your usual quadcopter model and a top half that uses blades to fly around a cut people. In concept, it's a fun design, but the CG used to execute it is abysmal, and it's the final step fully out of any sensible link to the original mythos.
I can't bash it too much because I think the film accomplished what it set out to do, and successfully kept a suffocating franchise from ultimate death. It's worth a look as an easy streaming option during a season that tends to be light on the horror.
Horror Rating System
Horror Qualifier: 8/10
Horror Quality: 5/10
Film Quality: 4/10