Fantasia 2018: Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich [Review]

PMLR12 - UDO KIERThe puppets are back in a re-imagining of the series in “Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich” which made its Canadian premiere at Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal. Get ready for some inventive new kills as the marionettes are on the loose.

In the late 80s, we are witnesses to murders from Andre Toulon’s (an immortal Udo Kier) puppets in a small town in Texas. The tragedy leaves such a mark on said town that, 30 years later, they have an odd “anniversary” of the town’s murders within a hotel that also exhibits much of Toulon’s memorabilia. A freshly divorced man with his new girlfriend, as well as his lazy, nonchalant boss, decide to go visit this hotel-museum. At the same time, he’ll potentially try to sell a strange puppet he’s had closeted for many years, as there will be an auction for numerous other ones as well. There’s only one problem, however: the puppets have all come to life and are committing Nazi-hate crimes, murdering anyone whom Nazis would traditionally see as scum, in addition to anyone else who dares get in their way. The puppets have become the puppeteers inside this hotel.

Some were saying it could be considered a sequel, some claimed it could be a remake. From some research, most sources consider it a “re-imagining” of the Puppet Master series, simply revisiting in a different way the original story.

There were definitely some creative and imaginative kills displayed in this installment. Without spoiling anything, one involving a man and his own urine was quite entertaining. What I also appreciated was some decent practical effects. In a world of computerized, digital effects, I always value when a director works with an FX team to bring forth some visually impressive gags that was thought out and thoroughly worked upon.

Unfortunately, those are the only positive points of the film. The storyline could’ve been developed in a little more explorative manner. The main character is portrayed in uncharismatic, bland and uninteresting fashion by actor Thomas Lennon ( “Reno 911”), in addition to having a few other mediocre talents onscreen. The only shimmer of light is the legendary Barbara Crampton (“Re-Animator,” “From Beyond” and “You’re Next”), who plays the tour guide around Toulon’s Nazi memorabilia and is also stuck in the midst of the puppet killings.

Nothing truly stands out from this feature film from directors Sonny Laguna and Tommy Wiklund, who have also collaborated for horror projects in the past. “Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich” isn’t a complete waste of time, since it is definitely a pleasant movie to view with some friends around a beer and some pizza. It isn’t a good movie; it’s a fun movie, deserving 3 stars out of 5.

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[Average: 5]