Like a lot of productions from B-movie fantasy specialist Charles Band, PUPPET MASTER featured not so much a plot as a situation: a group of potential victims in a sprawling old hotel, stalked by a pack of grotesque puppets come to life. The macabre marionettes were far more interesting
than the humans; each puppet was different, with varying lethal capabilities on which the filmmakers focused, skipping over such details as explanation and motivation. Now, with PUPPET MASTER II, the Full Moon team tries to fill in the gaps.
In the film's opening, set in 1920s Cairo, itinerant puppeteer Andre Toulon (Steve Welles) falls under the influence of an evil wizard with the secret of creating artificial life. This flashback ends abruptly though, snapping the viewer back to the present-day narrative. More paranormal
investigators, the usual sexy, youthful idiots, visit the old hotel on Scarab Hill to solve the bloodbath from the previous film. The puppets still prowl, but the brain serum sustaining them is running low, so they use the remaining brew to resurrect the long-dead Toulon. His withered frame
swathed in mummy-type wrappings (much like the bandaged Claude Rains in THE INVISIBLE MAN), Toulon poses as one of the shuttered hotel's average visitors. That the researchers accept his ruse proves that in matters of brain serum, quantity counts over quality, as Toulon promptly directs his
puppets to kill the interlopers and drain their cranial fluids. Toulon also believes young Carolyn (Elizabeth MacClellan) to be the reincarnation of his lost love, and he schemes to transplant both their minds into life-size, hideously cheerful Barbie-and-Ken-style dolls. Unfortunately for the
Puppet Master, his little creations rebel at the planned diversion of their brain serum, and in a neat final scene the marionettes have a new master--or servant.
What fans there are of the original PUPPET MASTER will get what they want, plus the added luxury of a real plot. In the ghoulish Toulon, played briefly by William Hickey in the first film, the filmmakers finally come up with a human--more or less--who's as much eerie fun as the puppets
themselves. The sequel also establishes that the puppets are not indestructible, and the two who bite the sawdust are the drill-headed Teutonic terror known as Tunneler and the parasite-spitting Leech Woman (whose resemblance to an inflatable sex toy cannot be ignored). To compensate for their
loss Toulon contructs another creature, a flame-throwing fiend called Torch.
The puppets are depicted simply but effectively, mixing real puppets, undersized actors in costumes, and stop-motion animation. Richard Band's haunting, waltz-timed theme music is back, and visuals expert David Allen, who animated the puppets in the first film, steps behind the cameras here for a
somewhat wobbly job of directing. Apart from the sinister Welles, the only actor who stands out is veteran character performer Nita Talbot, as a clueless psychic reporter for "The Inquiring Planet." The victims are generally stupid beyond the call of duty, particularly a swinish farm couple
conveniently within stalking range. Later in the year PUPPET MASTER III: TOULON'S REVENGE, not a true sequel but an inconsistent prequel set in Nazi Germany, also premiered on home video. (Violence, sexual situations, nudity.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1991
- Rating: R
- Review: Like a lot of productions from B-movie fantasy specialist Charles Band, PUPPET MASTER featured not so much a plot as a situation: a group of potential victims in a sprawling old hotel, stalked by a pack of grotesque puppets come to life. The macabre marion… (more)