Puppet Master III: Toulon’s Revenge (1991)

Puppet Master III: Toulon's Revenge (1991)

When good puppets go bad

During World War 2, the Nazis learn out that Andre Toulon’s puppets operate without strings as if they have a life of their own. Determined to get their hands on Toulon’s secret of reanimation, the Gestapo try to kidnap Toulon but this disastrously ends with the death of his wife. Toulon escapes and together with his puppets, he plots a nasty revenge against the Germans responsible.


Having exhausted what could be done in the present day with a bunch of killer puppets in a remote hotel in the first two films, the third entry into the Puppet Master series sees them go back in time to the Second World War for this prequel chronicling the events which led to the events of the others. Despite the fresh backdrop and the novelty of the puppets being used as the ‘heroes’ this time (even though they still kill people!), the end result is virtually the same as the previous instalments only with a lot more puppet action.

Puppet Master III: Toulon’s Revenge has too much emphasis on trying to fit itself into series canon that it ends up re-writing canon history in the process, forgetting continuity it needed to maintain for the first two films to make sense. That said, the film does a great job of bringing to life WW2 Germany so there’s never any doubt for a second what time period this is supposed to be set in. Maybe it’s a little too cliché to bring in the Nazis as bad guys but someone needed to go up against the puppets in order to turn them into heroes. And in veteran villain Richard Lynch’s snarling Major Krauss there’s a bad guy worth hissing at the screen for. It makes a welcome change being able to cheer for them as proper heroes, not anti-heroes because they’re eliminating annoying members of the cast as in the previous films. Guy Rolfe’s turn as Toulon adds much needed warmth and sincerity to the character, casting to one side the knowledge we have of how he will turn out. An Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader transformation this is not but Rolfe at least makes the good version of his character sympathetic. The script doesn’t do him many favours however, especially during his wife’s death scene.

The true stars of the series have always been the puppets and they’re at their most deadly and mischievous here. The special effects vary in quality but there’s no question that each of the puppets looks and acts in a unique manner, featuring quirky individual characteristics. Watch them as their bow their little heads in sorrow whenever they get upset – it’s brilliantly life-life. Each of the puppets is given some back story of how they came to be and there’s the bonus addition of an excellent new puppet – Six Shooter, a miniature cowboy armed with six arms and loaded guns. This will raise the issue of why he wasn’t in the first two films if he was a ‘Toulon original’ but there’s too many unanswered questions left floating around here for me to really care. Continuity has never been a strong point in horror franchises! The puppets all get plenty to do here though most of their handy work is devoted to the second half of the film.


Puppet Master III: Toulon’s Revenge is the best sequel in the entire series, arguably the best entry in the entire franchise and possibly one of the best films Full Moon ever made. Whilst that’s not a total badge of honour given some of the poor sequels which followed, it’s at least a fitting testament to a film from an era in which low budget horror films like this had a bit of spunk and fight about them.





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