Curse of the Puppet Master (1998)

Curse of the Puppet Master (1998)

Four Years Ago, the Puppets of Andre Toulon Vanished Without a Trace. Now The Puppets have Found a New Home, And a New Puppet Master.

The puppets are being looked after by their new master, Dr Magrew. He is trying to unlock their secret of life by experimenting on the young men he hires to carve puppets for his children’s show. He comes across Tank, a down-on-his-luck gas station attendant who is only too happy to work for Magrew, unaware of the danger he is now in.

 

After Puppet Master 4 and Puppet Master 5: The Final Chapter did such a great job of killing the franchise, Curse of the Puppet Master waited four years to spring itself into the sequel market but with even worse results than before. This one gets off to a bad start by ditching any continuity with the series, forgetting about Rick from the previous two films and replacing him with the new character, Dr Magrew. We don’t get to find out much about why the puppets are now under his care and are willing to kill for him. Not only that but puppets that were killed off in previous films are also resurrected here without any explanation.

To be fair, you won’t really care because the film is too predictable. There’s the Lawnmower Man-style character of Tank who is just too thick for his own good and immediately falls in love with Magrew’s hot daughter. This girl must have been really popular at college because she’s all over Tank within days of meeting him. However this love story is rather forced and dull because it’s all bait for the ridiculous finale where Magrew reveals his true intentions and his daughter is forced to choose between her love or her father. The ending is the worst part of the film bar none. It ends so abruptly and pointlessly that it seems like a reel is missing. If it isn’t then someone really needs shooting for such a terribly crude editing job. It makes no sense whatsoever and there are too many plot threads waiting to be wrapped up which aren’t even acknowledged. I know that some of these Puppet Master films have had open endings to pave the way for direct sequels but this is not the case here as the follow-ups simply forgot anything that happened here and proceed like it never existed.

The puppets were once the stars of this series but with ever-diminishing budgets, the special effects have become too costly and now they’re little more than side attractions. Those expecting to see plenty of Blade, Tunneler, Jester and co. will be grossly disappointed in the amount of screen time they get. Most of the shots of the puppets seem to be culled from stock footage from the other films – I’m sure that at one point, footage from Puppet Master III: Toulon’s Revenge is shown with 1940s Germany in the background! Any stop motion effects have long gone out of the window and now the puppets are just, well, puppets, with limited movement and a complete lack of personality. They don’t do much at all and only kill a handful of people in cheap and nasty ways. Gone are the six-shooting, flame-thrower wielding antics of the past. The feeble body count here is rather bloodless and shows a lack of creativity not just in the killing sense but in the series overall. The puppets were once bad guys but now they’ve been turned into the good guys and can happily co-exist with the family, only killing when they are forced to. They were so much more interesting as devilish little creatures that killed for fun.

 

Not much puppet action, a low body count and a terrible ending – I am a fan of the Puppet Master series but Curse of the Puppet Master takes the series to a new low (which was somehow lowered with the next batch of sequels!)

 

 ★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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