Thursday, February 14, 2019

In short: Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018)

So, it turns out that, if you put the Puppet Master franchise in the hands of people with actual talent, namely here S. Craig Zahler for the script and Sonny Laguna and Tommy Wiklund the direction, and let them make as hog-wild an exploitation movie as they have a mind to make, you actually get that most curious of things – a highly entertaining Puppet Master film. Not surprising in a Fangoria production, this isn’t a film for everyone, but really made for an audience with a love for gory horror and the old-fashioned exploitation values of gore, tits, and wit. Good taste certainly wasn’t invited, instead we get more or less large appearances by the great Barbara Crampton, the Udo Kier, Michael Paré, Matthias Hues (soon to be controlled by Baby Hitler), and so on. Also, a score by Fabio Frizzi.

Puppet and kill-wise, this is much more packed full with incident and murder, also incidents of murder, than most other Puppet Master films, with a small army of the darn little Nazis (and in this version they are definitely Nazis, giving the the film a nice opportunity to have a more diverse cast to kill as well as saying goodbye to any tragic backstory some of the older films had for the master and his puppets) killing people in increasingly outrageous fashion. Apart from Baby Hitler Hues, one of the high points is a completely shameless killing of a pregnant woman and her unborn. Or one of the low points, if you are of a higher moral fibre than I am, probably. That particular scene is the moment that divides the people for whom this film was made from those for whom it wasn’t. If you’re me and find the whole thing funny (if “holy crap, did they just do that?” outrageous), than you’ll enjoy the rest of the film, too, if not, there’s really no shame in missing the rest of this.

Speaking of the film’s humour, this is very much a throwback to fun 80s and 90s style gore where everyone involved doesn’t take things terribly seriously but isn’t really interested in the post-Scream plague of “irony”, instead providing said fun by skirting (and overstepping) various lines. I would call it dumb fun, but there’s also so much obvious intelligence in the film’s staging, and so much energy and love put into propping up minor characters with neat details before killing them off in Zahler’s script, the “dumb” word doesn’t really apply.

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