Expert stop-motion animator David Allen and his mischievous puppets return for their fourth and weakest outing in this popular video series.
In a grotesque subterranean chamber, a demon sends his "children" to the earth's surface to retrieve the "secret formula Toulon stole from us." The targets are the classified Omega Project scientists, who are working on artificial intelligence, and a shadowy figure (Dan Zukovic) delivers tiny
creatures in a boxes, one each to Dr. Baker (Felton Perry) and Dr. Piper (Stacie Randall). The creatures kill them and absorb their brains. The third member of Omega, doing his research while caretaking the off-season, storm-swept Bodega Bay Inn, is Rick (Gordon Currie), who is visited by his
girlfriend Susie (Chandra West), scientist cohort Cameron (Jason Adams), and his girlfriend Lauren (Teresa Hill). The psychic Lauren leads them to Toulon's old trunk, in dusty storage at the Inn for 50 years, which contains his notebooks, serum, and puppets, including the skull-headed,
leather-coat clad Blade; Pinhead; the many-faced Jester, the screw-headed Tunneler, and Six-Shooter, the six-armed, giggling cowboy.
Rick discovers that Toulon stole his animating serum from demon-worshipping Egyptian sorcerers; he injects the puppets--who come to life--and believes he has found the secret Omega has been searching for. Through a mystical board game, Lauren accidentally unleashes three more murderous demon
creatures, and Cameron, who has stolen a vial of serum, is killed. The creatures, terrorizing Rick, Susie, and Lauren, are battled by Toulon's puppets and killed one by one, although the last is decimated by Decapitron, a new puppet brought to life through Rick's computer and a bolt of lightning.
Toulon's head (Guy Rolfe) materializes to dub Rick the new puppet master, who must "protect my secret and keep it from evil."
After telling the same story twice in Parts 1 (1989) and 2 (1991), the PUPPET MASTER series received a creative (and budgetary) shot in the arm with Part 3 (1991), a prequel set in 1930s Germany that told the story of how puppeteer Toulon kept his secret animating serum from the Nazis' clutches.
Part 4 returns to present day, and to the tired teens-in-peril horror formula of the first two pictures. The weak screenplay, the work of no fewer than five credited writers, does add some new creatures, including the netherworld demons from whom Toulon stole the formula, and their doll-sized
toothy "children," which recall the elongated-head design of the ALIEN monsters. Some story ideas, carefully set up here, like the little demons absorbing the knowledge of their victims, are simply forgotten, and soon the movie sinks into familiar hide-and-seek-with-the-monsters teen terror.
Allen's work, a blend of animatronics and stop-motion animation, is once again marvelous, although scenes of the puppets battling each other are less effectively accomplished. Technically, the film looks like a rushed, low-budget affair, and the ending is left wide open for a part five. Jeff
Burr, who directed LEATHERFACE: TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE III and the better STEPFATHER II, directs with some energy but little imagination. Richard Band's familiar theme music, among the best lo-fi synthesizer scores, adds to the proceedings. The acting is routine but serviceable, though veteran
Guy Rolfe--who took over the part of Toulon in Part 3--reduced to a few scenes as a literal talking head, is missed. (Violence, profanity.)
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- Released: 1993
- Rating: R
- Review: Expert stop-motion animator David Allen and his mischievous puppets return for their fourth and weakest outing in this popular video series. In a grotesque subterranean chamber, a demon sends his "children" to the earth's surface to retrieve the "secret… (more)