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Featured DVD Review: Puppet Master Double-Shot

November 6th, 2011

Puppet Master Double-Shot - Puppet Master 5: The Final Chapter / Curse of Puppet Master - Buy from Amazon

Puppet Master was released on home video back in 1989 and while it is not a great movie, it earned a cult following. I certainly consider myself a fan of the film. However, even most die hard fans would agree the sequels were not able to live up to the original film, while a few were downright bad. Could Puppet Master 5: The Final Chapter and Curse of Puppet Master avoid such a fate?

Puppet Master 5: The Final Chapter

The film begins where Puppet Master 4 ends, namely with Rick Myers, a robotics expert, being interrogated by the police as a suspect for the deaths that occurred in that movie. He's charged with the murders, but Dr. Jennings (Ian Ogilvy), his new boss, bails him out of prison and Susie, his girlfriend and one of the survivors from the last installment, goes to pick him up and take him back to the Inn where the massacre in part four took place. This turns out to be a bad idea and not just for the obvious reasons. Sutekh, the demon whose power was used to create the living puppets in the first place, wants to get the secret formula back. Also, Dr. Jennings sends in a trio of goons to capture the puppets, so he can sell them to the military as weapons. Rick, Susie and the puppets are caught in the middle of these two forces.

Parts four and five were shot back-to-back and I would argue this was a mistake, as the films were far too similar. Even the finale seemed cut and pasted from the fourth film. Worse still, Sutekh was really bad as a villain to begin with. I've seen him compared to a Power Rangers bad guy and it's hard to argue against that description. There's a subplot with Lauren (Teresa Hill), the psychic from the previous film, trying to communicate with Rick and Susie through his computer, but it just doesn't work. On the other hand, this sequel is far from the worst in the franchise. If you are a fan of the Puppet Master films, then Puppet Master 5: The Final Chapter is watchable, which is a quality level most of the rest of the franchise fail to achieve. (The franchise doesn't return to form til part ten.)

Curse of Puppet Master

This film's plot has almost nothing to do with the last film. Instead of Rick taking care of the puppets, they have a new owner, Dr. Magrew (George Peck). The film starts with him packing something into a crate while the puppets look on. He tells them next time will be different, before taking the package, from which muffled screams can be heard, into the woods and setting it on fire. The next day his daughter, Jane (Emily Harrison), returns from college and she asked about Matt, her father's assistant at The House of Marvels doll museum he runs. Dr. Magrew claims Matt left suddenly after saying his father was ill, but Dr. Magrew thinks he was lying. Now he needs a new assistant. Robert "Tank" Winsley (Josh Green) would make the perfect assistant. He's a shy guy and a frequent target of the local bullies. However, he's also very good with his hands and carves wooden dolls as a hobby.

Dr. Magrew hires Robert and introduces him to the puppets Toulon originally made. He wants Robert to carve a new puppet for him, just like Matt was doing before he disappeared. Robert's work is perfect and Dr. Magrew needs perfection if he is to make his puppets come alive. Robert's not sure how Dr. Magrew will give life to these puppets, but the doctor says you just need to put your soul into it. His plans are complicated by the arrival of two cops, who are investigating Matt's disappearance; the local hoods who harassed Robert earlier in the film, and have now turned their attention on Jane; and Jane and Robert, who start to develop feelings for each other.

For many years, Paramount distributed Full Moon's films. However, that deal ended before this film was made. And the studio, which was already low on cash, had to reduce the budget of their films. You can really tell. The puppets are no long stop-motion animated creatures, which looked cool, but rather cheap puppets. When the the best part of the franchise is no longer a selling point, you know you are in trouble. Also, when a film is called Puppet Master, you should focus on the puppets, not the people. Even as a low expectations horror, this one misses the mark, as there are not enough scares or kills to succeed.

The Extras

There are no extras for either movie, nor are there subtitles. They are also presented in 4:3 ratio, but since they were made for the home market at a time before widescreen TVs were even cutting edge, this might be the original aspect ratio.

The Verdict

I like the Puppet Master films, but by this time they were running on steam. Puppet Master 5: The Final Chapter is better than Curse of Puppet Master, but overall the Puppet Master Double-Shot is not worth the money. On the the other hand, the first Puppet Master Collection from Echo Bridge Entertainment, which came out last year, is a better deal.

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